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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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kingdom of Sweden : indeed, aid in the execution of this latter
design had been promised him both at the diet of the States held
in Poland, and by the house of Austria ; hence he turned his
thoughts more upon this matter than anything else."

CH. II. § I.] OF WAR. 461

But this very danger instantly aroused opposi-
tion. The protestants, who had resisted the en-
croachments of cathohcism, were not only armed
for self-protection, but had boldness enough to re-
linquish their defensive attitude for one of attack.

In the elector palatine Frederic were concen-
trated all the elements of European protestantism.
His wife was the daughter of the king of England,
and the niece of the king of Denmark ; his uncle was
prince Maurice of Orange ; and nearly related to
him was the leader of the huguenots of the less
pacific party, the Due de Bouillon. He himself
stood at the head of the German Union. He was
a prince of stern, sedate character, endowed with
sufficient self-command to avoid the dissolute ha-
bits which then degraded the courts of Germany,
and chiefly solicitous to fulfil his duties as ruler,
and sedulously to attend the sittings of his privy
council ; a man of a proud and melancholy na-
ture, full of high thoughts*. In his father's
time there were tables in the dining-hall for nobles
and councillors ; he caused them all to be removed,
and would eat in company with none but princes
or persons of the most illustrious rank. The feel-

* Relatione di Germania, 1617: " Federico IV. d'etä di anni 20,
di raezzana statura, d'aspetto grave, di natura malinconico, di
carnaggione buona, uomo di alti jjcnsieri, e rare volte si rallegra,
e coir appoggio dell' accasamento fatto con la figliuola del re
d'Inghilterra c di altri parenti e confederati aspirarebbe a cose
maggiori se segli appresentasse occasione a proposito : onde es-
sendo ben conosciuto sua naturale per il colonello di Scomburg
gia suo ajo, seppe cosi ben valersene, accomodandosi al suo
umore, che mentre visse fu piii d'ogni altro suo confidente,"


iiig of a high poUtical vocation was cherished at
this court, which designedly engaged in a thousand
connexions involving remote consequences. So
long a time had elapsed since there had been any
serious war, that people had no distinct idea what
the future would bring forth ; and the field was thus
left open to the wildest and most daring schemes.

Such was the temper of the court of Heidelberg,
when the Bohemians, who had had a rupture with
the house of Austria, which daily assumed a more
violent and stormy character (especially in conse-
quence of the sense of that danger to their reli-
gious rights to which we have alluded), determined
to throw off their allegiance to Ferdinand, although
he already held their promise, and to offer the
crown to the elector palatine.

For a moment Frederic hesitated. There was
as yet no example of one German prince wresting
from another a throne which was his by legitimate
succession. But all his friends,^ — Maurice, who had
never approved the truce with the Spaniards; the
Due de Bouillon ; Christian of Anhalt, who took
a comprehensive view of the whole mechanism and
bearing of European policy, and was persuaded
that no one would have the courage or the power
to oppose the step when once taken, — all these,
his most confidential advisers, urged him on ; till
at length, hurried away by the sight of the bound-
less vista it opened to him, by ambition and by re-
Hgious zeal, he accepted the proffered crown (Au-
gust 1619). What must have been the results if he
could have maintained his position ! The power

CH. II. ^ I.] OF WAR. 463

of the house of Austria in the east of Europe would
have been broken — the progress of Catholicism for
ever checked.

And already strong sympathies were at work in
his favour. There was an universal stir among
the huguenots in France ; the Bearnois resisted the
king's commands ; the assembly at Loudun took
part with them, and nothing could have been more
desirable to the queen-mother than to gain over
the support of this opposition party, which was
ready to come to open war ; Rohan was already on
her side, and had promised her the co-operation of
the rest.
/ In the Grisons, the scene of incessant agitation,
the catholic or Spanish party was again subjugated,
and the protestant predominant. The court at
Davos received with pleasure the envoy of the new
king of Bohemia, and promised him to hold the
passes of the country against the Spaniards for

It is well worthy of remark, that these successes
on the side of protestantism were accompanied by
a simultaneous rise of the republican spirit. Not
only did the estates of Bohemia maintain a na-
tional independence of the king on whom they had
bestowed the crown, but in all the hereditary do-
mains of Austria an attempt was made to imitate
them. The German imperial cities conceived fresh
hopes ; and the most liberal and timely pecuniary

* Those who were contemporary with these events jierceived
their connexion, M'hich at a later period, was no longer at-
tended to. Fiirstl. Anhaltische Geh. Canzlei Fortsetzung, p. 67.


aid which Frederic received was furnished by

But it was precisely this obvious disposition on
the part of the people to connect rehgion with po-
litics, which now drew closer the ties that bound
together the catholic princes.

Maximilian of Bavaria and Ferdinand, who had
had the good fortune at this moment to be chosen
emperor, contracted the strictest alliance ; the king
of Spain prepared to give efficient succour, and
pope Paul V. was prevailed upon to furnish very
considerable and welcome subsidies.

As in the stormy season of the year the winds
sometimes suddenly veer completely round, so the
tide of fortune and success now all at once turned.

The catholics succeeded in winning- over to their
cause the elector of Saxony, one of the most pow-
erful Protestant princes ; — a lutheran however, and
a bitter and inveterate foe to every calvinistic in-

They immediately conceived hopes of victory.
A single battle on the Weissberg, on the 8th of
November, 1G20, put an end to the power of the
elector palatine Frederic, and to all his projects.

For the Union did not defend its chief with the
requisite vigour. It may be that the united princes
took alarm at the republican spirit afloat, and
dreaded its consequences to themselves ; they re-
fused to open the Rhine to the Dutch, and feared
the analogies which the government of the United
Provinces might suggest to their own subjects.


The catholics immediately obtained the ascendency
in southern Germany also. The Upper Palatinate
was attacked by Bavaria, the Lower by Spain ; and
in April, 1621, the Union was dissolved. All who
had been active in the cause of Frederic were
driven out of the country, or entirely ruined. The
catholic principle passed with wonderful rapidity
from a moment of the utmost danger, to an omni-
potent sway over the south of Germany and the
Austrian provinces.

Meanwhile a great crisis also took place in
France. After a victory which the royal power
had obtained over the rebellious factions of the
court, headed by the queen mother (with whom
the huguenots unquestionably were in correspond-
ence*), the papal nuncio urged the necessity of
taking advantage of the favourable moment for
a general attack upon protestantism ; he would
hear of no delays ; in France, what was once
put off, he said, was never done at allf. Lui-
nes and the king were carried away by his argu-
ments. In Beam the old factions of Beaumont
and Grammont, which had been fighting for cen-
turies, still existed, and their feud enabled the king
to march unresisted into the country, to disband
the military force, dissolve the constitution, and
restore the dominion of the catholic church. The
protestants in the other parts of France made some

* Benoist himself says, ii. 291, " Les reformds n'auroient at-
tendu que les premiers succfes pour se ranger au meme parti (de
la reine)."

t Siri, Memorie recondite, torn. v. p. 148.


demonstrations of taking up the cause of their co-
rehgionists ; hut in the year 1621 they were beaten
in every quarter.

About this same time Giacopo Robustelli, a cap-
tain of the Valteline, having collected a band of
catholic exiles and banditti from the Milanese and
Venetian territories, resolved to put an end to
the sovereignty of the Giisons, wiiose protestant
yoke was so oppressive to his countrymen. Tliis
lawless and sanguinary band was inflamed to a
furious pitch of religious fanaticism by the exhort-
ations of a capuchin friar; on the 19th of July,
1620, they found an entrance into Tirano, and
at break of day rang the bells of the churches :
the protestants hearing this rushed out of their
houses, when Robustelli's troops fell upon them
and massacred them all. The same fierce tragedy
was acted through the whole valley. In vain did
the people of the Orisons make repeated descents
from their lofty mountains in the hope of regaining
their power ; they were beaten every time. In the
year 1621 the Austrians entered the Grisons proper
from the Tyrol, and the Spaniards from Milan.
" The wild mountains echoed with the shrieks of
death, and were fearfully lighted up with the
flames of the solitary dwellings." The passes and
the whole country were taken.

These triumphs of their arms awakened all the
hopes of the catholics.

The pope represented to the court of Spain, that
the Netherlanders were divided and now without
allies, and that a more seasonable time could not


possibly occur for renewing the war against the
rebels; his representations were successful*. The
chancellor of Brabant, Peter Peckius, appeared at
the Hague on the 25th of March, 1621, and in-
stead of proposing a renewal of the truce which
just then expired, proposed the recognition of the
legitimate princes f. The States General declared
this suggestion to be unjust, unexpected, and in-
human, and hostihties broke out afresh.

Here too the Spaniards were at first successful.

They took Juliers from the Netherlanders, which

greatly facilitated their enterprises on the Rhine ;

the whole of the left bank from Emmeric to Stras-

/ burg was in their hands.

These numerous victories conspiring to one end,
occurring in so many different quarters, and at-
tributable to such various causes and antecedents,
yet, when viewed with reference to the state and
progress of the public mind throughout Europe,
constitute but one individual fact. Let us now at-
tend to the more weighty point — the purposes to
which those victories were turned.

* Instruttione a M""^ Sangro. " La onde S. M'^ non puo voltare
le sue forze in miglior tempo ovvero opportunita."

t laterally he pressed for a union, — " sub agnitione dominorum
principumque legitimorum." Both the demand and the answer
are to be found in Leonis ab Aitzema historia tractatuum jiacis
Belgicse, p. 2 and 4.

2 h2



During the procession to celebrate the victory of
the Weissberg, Paul V. was struck with apoplexy.
Shortly afterwards he had a second stroke, of the
effects of which he died, 28th January, 1621.

The new election differed little in its general
features from the preceding ones. Paul V. had
reigned so long that nearly the whole college had
been renewed during his pontificate, and hence by
far the greater number of the cardinals were de-
pendents of his nephew, cardinal Borghese. After
some hesitation and debate, Borghese found a
man who united the suffrages of all his adherents,
■— Alessandro Ludovisio of Bologna, who was forth-
with elected on the 9th February, 1621, and took
the name of Gregory XV.

He was a small phlegmatic man, who had for-
merly acquired the reputation of being a skilful
negotiator, possessing the art of silently and unos-
tentatiously accomplishing his ends*. Now, how-
ever, he was feeble, and sick, and bent with age.

What part in the struggle now going on — a
struggle involving the destinies of the world — was
to be expected from a pope, to whom his ministers
and attendants often did not venture to communi-

* Relatione dilV ambasciatori, 1521 : " Di pelo che a\'A'icinasi
al biondo. La natura sua e sempre conosciuta jjlacida e flem-
matica, lontana dall' imbarraciarsi in rotture, amicissimo d'an-
dare in negotio destreggiando et avanzando li proprj fiui."

CH. II. § II.] GREGORY XV. 469

cate critical affairs, lest they should give the last
shock to his frail existence * ?

But the powers of the papacy, which were too
mighty for the dying arm of Gregory to wield, were
instantly grasped by his nephew, Ludovico Ludo-
visio, a young man of twenty-five, who displayed
all the talent and boldness which the posture of
things demanded.

Ludovico was magnificent and brilliant; he never
neglected an opportunity of obtaining wealth, of
forming advantageous alliances, of promoting and
favouring his friends ; he was disposed to enjoy
life, and indulgent to the enjoyments of others ;
but he never lost sight of the great interests of the
church. Even his enemies admitted his great
talents for the conduct of business ; his singular
justness of mind and tact in discovering a satisfac-
tory way out of the most embarrassing difficulties,
and that calm and cool courage which enables a
man to descry a possible event in the dim horizon
of the future, and to steer his course steadily to-
wards itf. Had not the feebleness of his uncle,
Avhich promised him but a short tenure of power,

* Rainier Zeno, Relatione di Roma, 1623 : " Aggiungendosi
air eta cadente una fiacchissima complessione in un corpiccivolo
stenuato e mal affetto."

t Rainier Zeno : " E d'ingegno vivacissimo : 1' ha dimostrato
nel suo governo per Tabondanza dei partiti che in ogni grave
trattatione gli suggerivano suoi spiriti nati percomandare, i quali
se bene in molte parti aberravano dell' uopo della bona politica,
nondimeno I'intrepidezza, con la quale si mostrava pronto ad
abbracciare ogni ripiego appreso da lui per buono, poco curandosi
di consigli di chi gli haveria potuto esser maestro, davano a cre-
dere che la sua natura sdegnava una privata conditione."


held him in fetters, his fearless spirit would have
shrunk from no consideration of danger.

It was a most important circumstance, that not
only the pope, but his nephew, was filled with the
conviction that the salvation of the world depended
on the spread of Catholicism. Cardinal Ludovisio,
educated by the Jesuits, was their great patron. The
church of St. Ignatius at Rome was built chiefly
at his cost ; he attached considerable importance
to his office of protector of the capuchins, and de-
clared that he thought this the most important
patronage he enjoyed. He devoted himself warmly
and by predilection to the most orthodox and rigid
forms of Romanist opinions^. We can hardly
convey a more accurate idea of the spirit of the
new papal government, than by recalling the fact,
that it was under Gregory XV. that the propaganda
was instituted, and that the founders of the order
of Jesus, Ignatius and Xavier, were canonized.

The origin of the propaganda is properly to be
traced to an edict of Gregory XIII. ; in virtue of
which a certain number of cardinals w^ere charged
with the direction of missions to the east, and cate-
chisms were ordered to be printed in the less known
languages! . But the institution was neither firmly
established, nor provided with the requisite funds,
nor arranged on a comprehensive scale. At that
time there was a celebrated preacher at Rome, one
Girolamo da Narni, who had acquired universal
respect by a life which secured him the reputation

* Giunti, Vita e fatti di Ludovico Ludovisio. MS.

t Cocqueliaes, Praefatio adMafFei Annales GregorioXIII., p. v.

CH. 11. § II.] GREGORY XV. 471

of a saint, and who displayed a copiousness of
thought, a purity of expression, and a majesty of
deUvery in the pulpit, which carried away all his
hearers. As Bellarmine once came from hearing
him preach, he said he thought that one of St. Au-
gustine's three wishes had just been granted to
him, — the wish to hear St. Paul. Cardinal Ludo-
visio was one of his patrons and admirers, and
defrayed the expenses of printing his sermons.
This capuchin now conceived the idea of extending
the institution in question*. By his advice a con-
gregation in all its forms was founded, and charged
to hold regular sittings for the purpose of watching
over the conduct of missions in every part of the
world, and to assemble at least once a month in
the presence of the pope. Gregory XV. advanced
the first funds, and his nephew contributed to them
from his private purse ; and as this institution met
a want, the existence of which was really felt and
acknowledged, its success was daily more and more
brilliant. But it is needless to enlarge on its
achievements. Who does not know what the pro-
paganda has done for philological learning ? Nor
was this all, — for it laboured (and perhaps in the
first years of its existence with the amplest re-
sults) to fulfil its general vocation with admirable
grandeur of conception and execution.

* Fr. Hierothei, Epitome historica rerum Franciscanarum, etc.
p. 362 : " publicis suasionibus et consiliis imvatis." Fra Giro-
lamo had worked upon the pope. Compare Cerri, Etat present
de I'eglise Romaine, (p. 289,) where may also be found a more
detailed account of the institution and the increase of its wealth.


The canonization of the two Jesuits was prompted
by the same views. " At the time," says the bull,
" when new worlds were just discovered ; when in
the old, Luther had risen up in arms against the
catholic church, the soul of Ignatius Loyala was
inspired to found a company which should devote
itself specially to bring about the conversion of the
heathen and the return of heretics. But of all its
members, Francisco Xavier proved himself most
worthy to be called the apostle of the new-dis-
covered nations. For this cause both are now to
be received into the catalogue of saints. Churches
and altars, whereon sacrifice is offered to God, are
to be dedicated to them*."

In the spirit revealed in these acts, the new
papal government now took prompt measures that
the victories gained by Catholicism might be fol-
lowed up by conversions, and all the conquests of
the church justified and confirmed by the re-esta-
blishment of religion. " We must apply all our
thoughts," says one of Gregory XVth's first in-
structions, " to extract the greatest possible advan-
tage from the happy revulsion that has taken place,
and from the triumphant attitude of the church."

A project which was executed with signal suc-

* BuUarium Cocquelines, v. 131, 137.



The attention of the papal government was first
turned to the rising fortunes of Catholicism in the
Austrian provinces.

Gregory XV. not only doubled the subsidy which
the emperor had hitherto received*, but promised
him a sum of no inconsiderable amount as a gift in
addition, — although, as he said, he retained hardly
enough to live on ; — at the same time urging him
not to delay a single moment to follow up his
victory, and instantly to begin the work of re-
establishing the catholic rehgionf, by which alone
he could prove his gratitude to the God of victory.
He lays it down as a first principle, that the na-
tions, by their rebelUous backslidings, had fallen
mider the necessity of a more rigid control, and
must be compelled by force to abandon their god-
less ways.

The nuncio whom Gregory XV. sent to the em-

* From 20,000 gulden to 20,000 scudi. The present was to
consist of 200,000 scudi. He would have liked with this money
to support a number of regiments to be placed under the papal

t Instruttione al vescovo d'Aversa, 12 Apr. 1G21 : " Non e
tempo di indugi ne di coperti andamenti." In particular they
thought at Rome that Bucquoi was far too slow : "La prestezza
apportarebbe il rimedio di tanti mali, se dal conte di Bucquoi per
altro valoroso capitano ella si potesse sperare."


peror was that Carlo Caraffa so celebrated in Ger-
man history. From the two reports which he left,
the one printed, the other in MS., we can ascertain
with perfect distinctness what were the measures
lie adopted for the attainment of these ends.

In Bohemia, the scene of his first exertions, he
immediately endeavoured to banish the protestant
preachers and schoolmasters, " who were guilty of
offence against divine and human majesty."

This was not so easy ; the members of the im-
perial government at Prague deemed it as yet too
perilous. It was not till Mansfeld was driven out of
the Upper Palatinate, all danger from without at
an end, and some regiments marched to Prague at
the nuncio's request, that on the 13th December,
1621, they ventured to proceed to this extreme
measure ; and even then they spared the two lu-
theran preachers, out of deference to the elector of
Saxony. The nuncio, representative of a prin-
ciple which knew no respect of persons, and scorned
all compromise, would hear nothing of this ; he
complained that the whole people were devoted to
these men ; that a catholic priest had nothing to
do, and could not find the means of subsistence*.
In October 1622 he at length carried his point,

* CarafFa ragguaglio MS. ; " Conducevano in disperatione i pa-
rochi cattolici per vedersi da essi (Luterani) levarsi ogni emolu-
mento." The printed Commentarii, however, contain a more
ostensible notice : " Quamdiu illi hserebant, tamdiu adhuc spera-
bant sectarii S. majestatemconcessurum aliquando liberam facul-
tatem." (p. 130.)


and the lutlieran ministers also were banished. It
seemed for a moment as if the fears of the council
of government would be verified ; the elector of
Saxony published a threatening manifesto, and as-
sumed a hostile attitude on the most important
questions ; even the emperor once told the nuncio
that there had been far too much haste, and that
it would have been better to choose a more season-
able time*. Nevertheless means were found to
keep Ferdinand steady to his purpose ; the old
bishop of Würzburg represented to him that " a
glorious emperor ought not to be appalled by
dangers ; at all events it w^re better for him to fall
into the hands of men, than into the hands of the
living God." The emperor yielded. The nuncio
enjoyed" the triumph of seeing Saxony consent to
the banishment of the preachers, and retract his

The way was thus smoothed. The places of the
Protestant preachers were filled by dominicans,
augustines, and carmelites, for there was a great
want of secular clergy ; a complete colony of fran-
ciscans arrived from Gnesen, and Jesuits were sure

* CarafFa, ragguaglio : " Sua M'» mi si dimostro con questo di
qualche pensiere, ed usci a dirmi che si haveva havuta troppa
prescia e che saria stato meglio cacciare quei predicanti in altro
tempo dopo che si fosse tenuto il convento in Ratisbona. Al che
io replicai che Sua Maesta poteva havere piii tosto errato nella
tardanza che nella fretta circa questo fatto, poiche se il Sassone
fosse venuto al convento, di che non ammettono che egli havesse
avuta mai la volonta, si sapeva per ognuno che haverebbe doman-
dato ä S. Mä che a sua contemplazione permettesse in Praga
I'esercizio Luterano che giä vi era."


to be found in abundance ; accordingly, when a
missive arrived from the propaganda charging
them to take upon themselves the duty of parisli
priests, they had already done so*.

The only question now seemed to be, whether
they should allow the national utraquist mode of
worship to subsist, at least partially, according to
the decrees of the council of Basle. The council
of government, and the governor himself, prince
Lichtenstein, were for itf. On Holy Thursday
1622, they permitted the Lord's supper to be once
more administered in both kinds, and a murmur
arose among the people that they would not suffer
this ancient usage, handed down to them from

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 39)