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

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* This article is to be found in Ribiny, i. 358.


thus suddenly assumed a totally different aspect.
The Union embraced a large portion of Germany,
and it jealously watched, and strenuously repelled
every attack of Catholicism. The estates of the
Austrian provinces had consolidated the privileges
demanded by their ancient claims, into a well-
constructed constitutional power. There was now
also a considerable difference in the state of things.
In the empire, Catholicism had once more over-
spread the territories of the catholic princes ; but
when, encouraged by success, it advanced its pre-
tensions, interfered arbitrarily in civil and political
affairs, and endangered the existence of free popu-
lar bodies, it encountered resistance ; and in the
hereditary dominions of the house of Austria, even
within the range of the territorial rights of that
house, it was insuperably opposed by the power of
the Protestant landholders. On one point there
was a general consent. There was a very expres-
sive saying current in Austria, that one sword must
be held in the scabbard by the other.

Actuated by this feeling, the other party now
also prepared for war. On the 1 1th July 1609, a
defensive alliance was concluded between Maxi-
milian of Bavaria and seven ecclesiastical lords,
viz. the bishops of Würzburg, Constance, Augs-
burg, Passau, Ratisbon, the provost of EUwangen,
and the abbot of Kempten ; according to the terras
of which, after the example of the ancient treaty of
Landsperg*, the duke of Bavaria was invested with

* Maximilian makes mention of this confederacy of Landsperg,
in a letter of instruction to his ambassador at Mayence, quoted
by Wolf, ii. p. 470.


extraordinary powers. Shortly after, the three elec-
toral princes of the Rhine joined them, retaining,
however, a certain degree of independence. The
archduke Ferdinand wished to be admitted a mem-
ber of this confederation ; Spain declared its ap-
proval, and the pope promised to neglect nothing
which could promote its interests. It is unques-
tionable that the pope, chiefly through Spanish
influence, allowed himself to be gradually deeper
implicated in the projects of this league*.

Thus were the two hostile parties arrayed against
each other ; both armed, both in constant fear of
being surprised and attacked, and neither able to
bring aflairs to any grand decisive issue.

The necessary consequence was, that it was
henceforward impossible to overcome any difliculty,
or to despatch any business of general importance
in Germany.

In the year 1611, a king of the Romans should
have been elected. The electors met together in
vain. They could come to no agreement.

In the year 1612, even after the death of Rudolf,
a long time passed in unavailing debates. The
three temporal electors demanded, in the capitula-
tion of election, the establishment of an aulic coun-
cil, composed of an equal number of protestant and
catholic members, which the three spiritual princes
opposed. No .election could have taken place, had
not Saxony, which on all occasions showed great

* The documents connected with this affair are not known :
till more detailed information can be found, the statement of the
Venetian ambassador Mocenigo may satisfy us.


devotion to the house of Austria, gone over to the
cathoUc party.

But what could not he carried in the electoral
council, was demanded with the more violence by the
Union of princes at the diet of 1G13, where it was
as I'esolutely opposed by the catholics : no further
deliberation was held on the subject ; the protest-
ants did not choose any longer to subject them-
selves to the yoke of the majority.

In Juliers and Cleves, in spite of the wavering
dispositions betrayed by the weak government of
the last native prince, strong measures had at
length been taken for the restoration of Catholi-
cism, through the influence of his wife, a princess
of the house of Lorraine ; nevertheless it appeared
for a time as if the rival creed would gain the ascen-
dency, since the next heirs were both protestants.
But here too the sectarian tendency of the age
prevailed. One of the protestant pretenders to the
throne turned catholic ; and upon this, the parties
divided. In 1614, as they recognised no common
supreme authority, they proceeded to acts of vio-
lence. The one with the assistance of Spain, the
other with that of the Low Countries, seized what-
ever they could lay hands on, and each very soon
reformed, after its fashion, the country which had
fallen to its share.

Attempts indeed were made at a. reconciliation,
and an electoral diet was proposed ; but the elector
palatine would not listen to this project, as he had
no confidence in his colleague of Saxony. Another
proposal was for a general diet of composition;


but the catholic states had innumerable motives
for rejecting this. Others turned their eyes to-
wards the emperor, and advised him to assert his
dignity by the demonstration of a large armed
force. But what could be expected of Matthias?
who by the very origin of his power belonged to
both parties, and who now, loaded as he was with
chains of his own forging, could display no inde-
pendence or energy. The pope complained loudly
of him ; he declared him unfit to occupy so august
a station in such times ; he remonstrated with him
in the strongest language, and only wondered that
the emperor bore it as he did. At a later period
however, the catholics were not so dissatisfied with
him, and even the bigots declared that he had been
of greater use to their church than might have been
believed. But in the aftairs of the empire he was
utterly powerless. In the year 1617, he made an
attempt to dissolve both the hostile confederacies,
but with so little success, that the Union was im-
mediately after renewed, and the League re-esta-
blished on a new and firmer basis.


That equal balance of parties which had long
existed in Switzerland, now manifested itself as
distinctly as in former times, though more peace-

The independence of each of the confederate
cantons of Switzerland had long been declared ;

VOL. II. 2 F


nor was it lawful so much as to discuss the affairs
of religion at their diets.

At the commencement of the seventeenth cen-
tury, the catholic party no longer entertained the
slightest hope of crushing the protestants, who
were not only more powerful and wealthy than
themselves, but had also in their ranks men of
greater abiUty and experience in business*.

It is clear that the nuncios who had established
their residence in Lucerne, did not deceive them-
selves on this head ; since it is from them that we
derive this representation of the state of things.
Nevertheless, spite of the limits thus imposed on
their sphere of activity, the situation they held
among the catholics was one of great consider-

Their chief care was, to keep the bishops to the
exercise of their duties f. The bishops of German

* Informatione mandata dal S'" Card' d' Aquino a Mons' Feli-
ciano Vescovo di Foligno per il paese de' Suizzeri e Grisoni, (Iii-
formationi Politt. ix.), adds : " Li cantoni cattolici sino a questi
tempi sono tenuti piu bellicosi die i cantoni heretici, ancora che
quelli siano piu potenti di genti al doppio e di denari : ma hoggi
li cattolici si mostrano tanto affettionati e mutati da quelli an-
tichi Suizzeri che se non fosse jiarticolare gratia del Signore,
humanamente parlando, poco o veruno avvantaggio haverebbero
questi sopra gli a\'versarii heretici, e non sarebbe sicuro senza
ajuto straniero il venir a rottura con essi, oltre che li medesimi
protestanti hanno persone piu dotte, prattiche, giudiciosi e po-
tenti in ogni atfare."

t Relatione della nuntiatura'de' Suizzeri: " L'esperienza mi
ha mostrato che per far frutto nella nuntiatura non e bene che i
nuntii si ingerischino nelle cose che possono fare i vescovi e che
spettano a gli ordinarii, se non in sussidio e con vera necessita :
perch^ mettendosi mano ad ogni cosa indiflferentemente, non solo


race were prone to consider themselves princes;
whereas the nuncios incessantly represented to them,
that they were invested with exalted temporal rank
only for the sake of their spiritual calling, the high
responsibiUties of which they constantly pressed
upon them. We find, indeed, that great zeal and
activity at that time animated the Swiss church.
Visitations were made, synods appointed, convents
reformed, and seminaries established. The nuncios
endeavoured to maintain a good understanding be-
tween the spiritual and the temporal authorities, and
their gentleness and persuasiveness ensured them
considerable success. They had sufficient influence
/to prevent the importation of protestant writings,
though they were obliged to allow the people to re-
tain their bibles and German prayer-books. Jesuits
and capuchins laboured with great effect. Confrater-
nities of the Blessed Virgin were founded, including
old and young ; the church and the confessional
were punctually attended; pilgrimages to miraculous
images were again generally performed ; and it
even became necessary to mitigate the severities
which some devout persons imposed on them-
selves*. The nuncios could not find words to

essi vescovi si sdegnano, ma si oppongono spesse volte e rendono
vana ogni fatica del ministro apostolico, oltre che e contro 1^
mente di monsignore e delli canoni che si metta mano nella
messe aliena mandandoli i nuntii per ajutare e non per distrug-
gere I'autorita degli ordinarii."

* An example is given in the Literae annuse societatis Jesu,
1596, p. 187. "Modus tarnen rigido illi jejunio est a confessario

2 f2


convey their sense of" the vahie of the services ren-
dered by the capuchins, especially the Italians of
that order.

These efforts naturally led to conversions. The
nuncios received, supported and recommended
the converts, and endeavoured, from the contribu-
tions of the faithful, to establish funds, under the
control of the prelates, for the maintenance of
the proselytes. Sometimes they succeeded in
regaining jurisdictions given up for lost, and in
which they then hastened to re-establish catholic
worship. The bishop of Basle and the abbot of
St. Gall showed peculiar zeal in this matter.

All these labours of the nuncios were greatly
promoted by the formation of a Spanish party in
catholic Switzerland ; the adherents of Spain, for
example the Lusi in Unterwaiden, the Amli in
Lucerne, the Bühler in Schwyz, &c. were all among
the most devoted servants of the Roman see. The
nuncios did not fail to encourage these sentiments
by every means in their power. They treated those
who held them with all possible respect and courtesy ;
listened with patience to the longest and most tire-
some speeches; were not sparing of titles, and pro-
fessed great admiration of the ancient deeds of the
Swiss people, and of the wisdom of their republican
institutions. They found it absolutely indispen-
sable to keep together their friends by a regular suc-
cession of feasts, while they repaid every invitation,
every civility to themselves, with a present. Presents
were here found to have peculiar efficacy : a man


who was advanced to the dignity of a knight of
the Golden Spur, and received, together with the
honour, a chain or a medal, felt himself bound to
them for ever. They had only to take care not to
promise what they were not certain to be able to
perform ; if they could do more than they promised,
the favour was esteemed the more highly. Their
private life was expected to be regular and deco-
rous, so as to give no handle to censure.

Thus it happened that the catholic interests,
even in Switzerland, were generally sure of a good
reception, and of a quiet progress.

There was only one province, in which the hosti-
lity between protestants and catholics, concurring.
as it there did, with unsettled political relations,
could cause danger and contention.

The government of the Grisons was essentially
Protestant ; but among their dependencies, the
Italian, and especially the Valtelline, were inflexi-
bly catholic.

Hence arose continual provocations. The go-
vernment would not tolerate any foreign priests
in the valley, and had even forbidden their sub-
jects to frequent foreign Jesuits' schools; nor would
it permit the bishop of Como, to whose diocese
the Valtelline belonged, to perform his official
duties there. On the other hand, the inhabitants
saw with the greatest disgust, protestants lords
and masters in their country, and consequently
cherished a secret attachment to their neighbours of
Italy — to the orthodox Milan, while the Collegium


Helveticum, where only six places were reserved
for the Valtelline, constantly sent forth young
divines who inflamed their zeal*.

These religious dissensions were attended with
danger, since France, Spain, and Venice were eager-
ly vying with each other to establish a party in the
Grisons ; these parties frequently broke out into
open violence, and drove each other from the held.
In the year 1607, the Spanish faction, and soon
afterwards the Venetian, took possession of Coire.
The former broke up all the existing alliances, the
latter restored them. The Spanish party had
catholic, the Venetian, protestant sympathies,
and these gave the tone to the whole politics of
the country. It was now of the greatest importance
to ascertain for which side France would declare
herself. The French had pensioners all over Switz-
erland, not only in the catholic but in the protestant
cantons, and possessed a long-established influence
in the Grisons. About the year 1612, they de-
clared for the catholic interest ; the nuncio suc-
ceeded in winning over their friends to the side of
Rome, and the Venetian alliance was therefore
formally dissolved.

This party warfare merited little attention for its
own sake; but acquired great importance from the
fact, that the opening or closing the passes in the

* Rel"^ della nuntiatura : " II coUeglo Elvetico di Milano e di
gran giovamento, et e la salute in particolare della Val Telina,
che quanti preti ha, sono soggetti di detto collegio, e quasi tutti
dottorati in theologia."


Grisons to the one or the other of the great powers,
depended upon it. We shall see that the struggles
of this small state had a considerable effect in de-
termining the general relations of politics and reU-
gion throughout Europe.


At this crisis the question of the greatest interest
to the world was, the position and character which
France would assume with respect to religion.

One glance suffices to show that the protestants
were still extremely powerful.

Henry IV. had proclaimed the edict of Nantes,
by which, not only the possession of the churches
they then held w^as guaranteed to them, but also
a share in the institutions for public education, and
committees composed of an equal number of pro-
testants and catholics in the parliaments ; fortified
places were ceded to them in great number ; and
above all things, a degree of independence was
granted them which seems hardly compatible with
the idea of a State. About the year 1000, there
were seven hundred and sixty parish churches be-
longing to the protestants of France, all in good
order : four thousand of the nobility belonged to
that confession, and it was calculated that they
could bring into the field without difficulty twenty-
five thousand men, and that they possessed about
two hundred fortified towns : — a power able to com-


mand respect, and not to be assailed with im-

Next to them however, and in direct opposition,
arose a second power, — the corporation of the
cathohc clergy of France.

The vast possessions of the French clergy gave
them a certain independence as a body, which be-
came the more conspicuous when tbey entered into
an engagement to pay off a part of the public
debtf. For their contribution was not so forced
but that their engagement to pay it was from
time to time renewed wdth the forms of a volun-
tary act.

Under Henry IV., the meetings which were held
for this purpose assumed a more regular form.
They were to be held every tenth year ; always
in May, when the days are long and allow time
for much business ; never at Paris, for fear of the
interruptions and dissipations of a capital. Every

* Badoer, Relatione di Francia, 1605.

t lu the Memoires du clerge de France, torn. ix. — Recueil des
contrats passes i)ar le clerge avec les rois — are to be found the
docviments relating to this affair, from the year 1561 downwards.
At the convention of Poisy in this year, for instance, the clergy
undertook not only to pay the interest of the debts which had
been incurred by the state, but to discharge them. The discharge
did not take place : the promise to pay the interest however was
adhered to. I'he debts were chiefly those which had been con-
tracted to the Hotel de Ville of Paris, and the city received the
interest; a fixed annual rent was paid to it by the clergy. It is
easy to see, why Paris, even if its citizens had not been such
good catholics as they were, would never have ventured to give
any countenance to the ruin of the clergy, nor consented to the
destruction of the ecclesiastical possessions, which were thus
mortgaged to them.


two years, smaller meetings were to be held for the
purpose of auditing the accounts.

It was not to be expected that these assemblies,
particularly the larger ones, would be content with
the mere performance of their financial duties. The
fulfilment of these soon gave them courage to aim at
larger objects. In the years 1595 and 1596, they
determined to reorganize the provincial councils ;
to oppose the encroachments made by the temporal
authorities upon the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and
to permit no simony: to these resolutions, the king,
after some slight hesitation, gave his sanction*.
It was customary for the clergy to make general
representations in all matters relating to churches
and church discipline ; these the king could not
possibly refuse to receive, and they invariably led
to new concessions. At their next meeting, the
clergy set on foot an inquiry w^hether the changes
they had directed had been carried into execution.

Henry's situation was now most extraordinary ;
placed between two corporations, each of which
had a certain independence, each holding its meet-
ings at stated times, and each assailing him with
opposite representations, neither of which it was
safe for him to resist.

His general intention was, doubtless, to maintain
the balanpe between them, and not to suffer them
to break out into fresh discord ; but if we inquire

* Relation des principales choses qui ont este resolues dans
I'asseniblce generale du clerge tenue a Paris es annees 1595 et
1596, envoyee ä toutes les dioceses. M^moires du clerge, torn,
viii. p. 6.


to which of the two parties he w^as most inchned,
and gave in fact the greatest assistance, we shall
find that, notwithstanding his own protestant ex-
traction, it was undoubtedly the catholic.

Henry was as little swayed by gratitude as by
revenge ; he w^as more solicitous to acquire new
friends, than to reward or to gratify the old.

Had not the huguenots been obliged to extort
from him even the edict of Nantes ? He granted
it only at a moment when he was hard pressed by
the Spaniards, and when the protestants had them-
selves assumed a very threatening and warlike atti-
tude*. They used their freedom in the same spirit
in which they had w^on it ; they constituted a re-
public over which the king had but little influence ;
and from time to time they spoke as if they meant
to choose some foreign protector.

The catholic clergy, on the contrary, attached
themselves to the king ; instead of requiring pecu-
niary assistance, they afforded it ; the degree of
independence they enjoyed could not be dangerous,
since the king held the nomination to the vacant
sees in his own hands. In so far as the position
of the huguenots involved, as it manifestly did, a
limitation of the royal powxr, it is clear that the
extension of that power was inseparably connected
with the progress of catholicismf .

* This appears incontestably from the narrative of Benoist,
Histoire de I'edit. de Nantes, i. 185.

t Niccolo Contarini : " II re se ben andava temporeggiando
conle parti e li suoi ministri e consiglieri fussero dell' una e I'altra
religione, pur sempre piu si mostrava alienarsi dagli Ugonoti e
desiderarli minori : la ragione principal era perche tenendo essi


As early as the year 1598, the kiag declared to
the clergy that it was his intention to render the
catholic church as flourishing as it had been in
former ages ; all he asked was patience and confi-
dence ; Paris was not built in a day*.

From that time the manner of exercising the
rights conferred by the concordat was totally
changed ; benefices were no longer bestowed upon
women and children. The king looked most care-
fully to the learning, the opinions, and the conduct
of those upon whom he conferred church livings.

" In all internal matters," says a Venetian, " he
shows himself personally devoted to the Roman
catholic religion, and unfavourable to the opposite

Actuated by these sentiments, he recalled the
Jesuits ; he thought that their zeal would materially
tend to the restoration of Catholicism, and conse-
quently to the extension of the royal power, such
as he now contemplated and desired itf .

Yet all this would have availed but little, had
not the internal regeneration of the catholic church
of France, which had already commenced, just now

per li editti di pace molte piazze nelle loro mani, delle quali ben
trenta erano di molto momento, senza di queste li pareva non
essere assolutamente re del suo regno."

* Memoires du clerge, torn. xiv. p. 259.

t Contarini : "Per abbassamento del quale (del partito degli
Ugonoti) s'imagino di poter dar gran colpo col richiamar li
Gesuiti, pensando anco in questa maniera di toglier la radice a
molte congiure.'' The king had said, in answer to the demands
of the parliaments, that if they would ensure his personal safety,
the exile of the Jesuits should be perpetual.


advanced with rapid strides. Within the first
twenty years of that century, it assumed a new
form. This change, especially as it regards the
renovation of convent discipHne, in which it ap-
pears under its most striking aspect, we shall now
briefly consider.

The ancient orders, — the dominicans, franciscans,
and benedictines, — were most zealously reformed.
The religious communities of women emulated
their zeal and asceticism. The feuillantines im-
posed on themselves such austere penances that
fourteen are said to have died of them in one week,
and the pope himself was obliged to exhort them to
moderate the severity of their discipline*. Com-
munity of goods, silence, and night vigils were re-
introduced at Portroyal ; the mystery of the Eucha-
rist was adored day and night without intermissionf .
The nuns of Calvary observed the rule of Saint
Benedict in all its rigour ; they offered up inces-
sant prayer at the foot of the cross, which they
regarded as a sort of expiatory penance for the out-
rages offered by protestants to the tree of life |.

At that time Saint Theresa had reformed the
order of the carmelites in Spain, but in a some-
what different spirit. She also prescribed the most
rigid seclusion ; restricting the visits of the nearest

* Helyot, Histoire des ordres monastiques, v. p. 412.

f Felibien, Histoire de Paris, ii. 1339, a work throughout of
great importance as regards the history of this restoration, and
which, in many instances, takes its accounts from original do-

X La vie du veritable pere Josef, 1705, p. 53-73.


kindred at the grate, and subjecting even the con-
fessors to vigilant inspection. But Saint Theresa

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 29 of 39)