Leopold von Ranke.

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

. (page 39 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 39 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

protest*. But this did not satisfy the zealously
religious party, and the idea of summoning a coun-
cil in opposition to the pope was already suggested,
especially by cardinal Ludovisio, the nephew and
minister of the former popef.

But what a fire would such a measure have
lighted up ! Events already took a turn which

* " Nella quale," says cardinal Cecchini in liis autobiography,
" concludeva che tutti li danni che per le presenti turbolenze
erano per venire alia christianita, sariano stati attribuiti alia
negligenza del papa." See App. No. 121.

f Al. Contarini speaks of the " orecchio^che si prestava in
Spagna alle pratiche di Ludovisio per un concilio."

584 SWEDISH war. [bookvii.

left no doubt as to their nature, and which would
of necessity give another direction to papal policy.

Urban VIII. flattered himself for a time that the
king would conclude a treaty of neutrality with
Bavaria, and would restore the ejected spiritual
princes to their dominions. But this attempt at a
reconcilement of interests so directly at variance,
soon utterly failed. The Swedish troops inundated
Bavaria, Tilly fell ; Munich was conquered, and
duke Bernard threatened the Tyrol.

These things left no room for doubt as to what
the pope and Catholicism had to expect from
Sweden. How utterly was the situation of things
changed in a moment ! While perhaps the catho-
lic party had cherished the hope of restoring the
Protestant endowments in North Germany to Ca-
tholicism, Gustavus now conceived the plan of
transforming the South- German endowments
which were in his power, into secular principalities.
He already began to talk of his duchy of Fran-
conia, and seemed to intend to fix his royal court
at Augsburg.

Two years before the jiope had had to fear a
descent of the Austrians upon Italy, and had been
menaced with an attack on Rome itself. Now,
the Swedes appeared on the frontiers of Italy, and
under the conduct of a victorious leader whose very
title — the king of the Swedes and Goths — sug-
gested to either party a crowd of recollections*.

* Al. Contarini asserts nevertheless that, " L'opinione vive
tuttavia che a S. S*^ sia dispiaciuta la morte del re di Suezia e



I have no intention of tracing the course of that
struggle which for sixteen years longer desolated
Germany. It is sufficient if we have remarked how
that mighty torrent of Catholicism which seemed
likely to overspread Germany for ever, just as it
was preparing to sweep away the protestant faith
at its very sources, was checked in its career and
triumphantly forced back. It may be observed
generally, that Catholicism, viewed as one body,
was unable to sustain its own victories. Even the
head of the church believed himself compelled by
political considerations to oppose the very powers
which were the foremost champions and propaga-
tors of his spiritual authority. Catbolics, acting
in accordance with the pope, evoked the yet un-
subdued forces of protestantism and prepared the
way for their success.

Plans so vast as those conceived by Gustavus
Adolphus in the plenitude of his power, could not
indeed be executed after the early death of that
prince ; for the triumphs of protestantism were by
no means to be ascribed to its own intrinsic
strength. Yet neither was Catholicism, even when

che piü goda o per dir meglio manco tema i progress! de' Prote-
stant! che degli Austriaci."


it had concentrated its forces, when Bavaria once
more alUed herself to the emperor, and Urban VIII.
contributed fresh subsidies, sufficiently strong again
to overpower protestantism.

This conviction soon obtained, at least in Ger-
many, and indeed gave rise to the treaty of Prague.
The emperor suffered his edict of restitution to
drop, while the elector of Saxony and the states in
alliance with him, gave up the hope of the re-esta-
blishment of protestantism in the hereditary domi-
nions of Austria.

The pope, it is true, opposed every measure
at variance with the edict of restitution, and in
the emperor's spiritual council he had the Jesuits
on his side, particularly father Lamormain, who
was constantly eulogized on that account, as
" a worthy father confessor, a man swayed by
no temporal considerations:*" but the majority
were against him ; the capuchins Quiroga and Y^.-
lerian, the cardinals Dietrichstein and Pazmany,
among others, maintained that if the catholic faith
was upheld in its purity in the hereditary domi-
nions, religious freedom might safely be granted in
the empire. The peace of Prague was announced
from every pulpit in Vienna ; the capuchins boasted
of their share in this " honourable and holy work,"
and instituted special solemnities in its celebration;

* Lettera del card' Barberino al nuntio Baglione, 17 Marzo
1635: " Essendo azione da generoso Christiane e degno con-
fessore di un pio imperatore cio che egli ha fatto rimirando piu il
cielo che il mondo."


scarcely indeed could the nuncio prevent the sing-
ing of Te Deum*.

Urban VIII., though in practice he had contri-
buted so much to the defeat of all the projects of
Catholicism, had yet abandoned no claim in theory,
and had thus deprived the papacy of any partici-
pation in the vital and active interests of the world.
Nothing affords stronger evidence of this than the
instruction which he gave his legate Ginetti on his
departure for Cologne, in the year 1636, to nego-
tiate a general peace. Precisely on all those points
upon which every thing absolutely depended, the

* From the correspondence of Baglioni, as extracted in the
6th vol. of Nicoletti ; e.g. 14th of April, 1635. " Disse un giorno
il conte di Ognate che assolutamente il re di Spagna non ha\Tebbe
dato ajuto alcuno all' imperatore se non in caso che seguisse la
pace con Sassonia : di che mara^-ighandosi il nunzio disse che la
pieta del re cattolico richiedeva che si cumulassero gli ajuti
non seguendo detta pace, la quale doveva piuttosto disturbarsi
trattandosi con eretici, ed applicare I'animo alia pace universale
coi principi cattolici. Fulli risposto che cio seguirebbe quando
la guerra si fosse fatta per la salute delle anime e non per la ri-
cuperazione de' beni ecclesiastici, ed il padre Quiroga soggiunse
al nunzio che I'imperatore era stato gabbato da quelli che I'ha-
vevano persuaso a fare I'editto della ricuperazione de' beni eccle-
siastici, volendo intendere de' Gesuiti, e che tutto erasi fatto per
Interesse proprio : ma avendo il nunzio risposto che la persua-
sione era stata interposta con buona intenzione, il padre Quiroga
si accese in maniera che proruppe in termini esorbitanti, sieche al
nunzio fu difficile il ripigliarlo perche maggiormente non eccedesse.
Ma Ognate passo piii oltre, dicendo che I'imperatore non poteva
in conto alcuno ritirarsi dalla pace con Sassonia per la necessita
in cui trovavasi, non potendo resistere a tanti nemici, e che non era
obbligato a rimetteni I'havere de* suoi stati hereditarj ma sola-
mente quelli dell' imperio, che erano tenuissimi, e che non com-
pliva di tirare avanti con pericolo di perdere gli uni e gli altri.


hands of the ambassador were tied. For example,
one of the most urgent necessities was the re-esta-
blishment of the palatinate, yet the legate was en-
joined to oppose the restitution of the prdatinate to
a non-catholic prince*. What had already appeared
inevitable even during the negotiations at Prague,
viz. to make some concessions to the protestants
in reference to church property, was now become yet
more so ; nevertheless the legate was admonished
" to especial zeal in yielding nothing which might
be for the advantage of the protestants in respect
of church property." Nor would the pope accede
to any treaty of peace with protestant powers. His
envoy was not to give his sanction to any project for
including the Dutch in the peace ; he was to oppose
any transfer or cession to Sweden (this related only
to some pending discussion about a sea-port) ; " the
divine mercy would find means to remove that
nation out of Germany."

The Roman see could no longer entertain any
reasonable hope of subjugating the protestants ; it
is, however, most remarkable and important, that
Urban — involuntarily indeed, but by his stubborn
pertinacity in urging impracticable claims, — himself
rendered it impossible to exercise any material in-
fluence on the relations of catholic states to Rome.

The pope continued indeed to send his ambassa-
dors to the congress which was met for the nego-
tiation of a peace ; Ginetti was succeeded by
Macchiavelli, Rosetti, Chigi. Ginetti was accused

* Siri : Mercurio, ii. p. 987.


of being frugal to a degree which was prejudicial
to his utiUty ; Macchiavelli, of regarding his mission
solely as a means of acquiring rank, — as giving him
a qualification for a higher post ; Rosetti was dis-
agreeable to the French ; — such are the reasons
assigned for the insignificance of their influence*.
The truth is, that the thing itself — the position
which the pope had taken up, — rendered any effect-
ive interference on the part of the nuncios impos-
sible. Chigi was able and popular ; yet he ef-
fected nothing. / A peace was concluded before his
eyes of the very nature the pope had denounced
and forbidden, i The elector-palatine and all the
expelled princes Avere restored ; so far from any
possibility of thinking of the edict of restitution,
many religious endowments were secularized with-
out hesitation, and given up to the protestants.
Spain determined at length to recognise the inde-
pendence of those rebels to pope and king — the
Dutch ; the Swedes kept a considerable portion of
the empire. Even the peace between the emperor
and France was not such as the curia could ap-
prove, containing, as it did, stipulations concerning
Metz, Toul, and Verdun, by which its rights were
invaded. The papacy found itself under the me-
lancholy necessity of protesting ; it chose at least
to give utterance to the principles which it had
been unable to enforce. But even this had been
foreseen. • The spiritual articles of the peace of
Westphalia were prefaced by the declaration, that

* Pallavicini: VitadipapaAlessandroVII.MS. See App.No.130.


the contracting parties would not regard the oppo-
sition of any one soever, whether of temporal or
spiritual estate^

By this peace the grand struggle between catho-
lics and protestants was at length brought to a
close, though to a far different one from that which
the edict of restitution was intended to effect.
Catholicism preserved vast acquisitions, since the
year 1 624 was regarded as the normal year to which
the relative situation of the two parties was to be
referred ; on the other hand, the protestant party
obtained that parity in the diet which was so in-
dispensable to their safety, and had been so long
withheld. All the relations of the empire w^re
henceforth governed by this principle.

It is obvious that an end was now for ever put
to such schemes as had formerly been undertaken,
and had formerly succeeded.

The results of the German contest re-acted imme-
diately on the neighbouring countries.

Although the emperor had been able to maintain
the ascendancy of Catholicism in his hereditary do-
minions, he was obliged to make concessions to the
protestants in Hungary ; in the year 1645 he found
himself constrained to restore to them no incon-
siderable number of churches.

After the vast and sudden elevation of Sweden
to the dignity and importance of a great power,
Poland could hardly think of renewing her old
claims to that country. Wladislaus IV. did not

* Treaty of peace of Osnabrück. Article V. § 1,


imitate the proselyting zeal of his father, and was
a gracious king to his dissident subjects.

Even in France, Richelieu favoured the hugue-
nots after they were stripped of their political in-
dependence. He rendered, however, a far more
important service to the protestant principle by
that mortal combat which he continued to wage
against the pre-eminently catholic power of Spain ;
a combat which shook the Spanish monarchy to
its very foundations. This discord was the only
one which the pope might have allayed without a
scruple. But while all others were in fact ap-
peased, this remained still active, and incessantly
agitated the bosom of the catholic world.

The Dutch, until the peace of Westphalia, had
taken the most successful part in the war against
Spain. This was the golden age of the power and
the prosperity of Holland. But from the time they
aspired to domination in the East, they came into
violent colUsion there with the successful catholic

In England alone, Catholicism, or something
having an analogy with its outward forms, seemed
to find acceptance. We remark envoys from the
English court in Rome, and papal agents in Eng-
land ; the queen, of wdiom a sort of official recog-
nition obtained in Rome*, exercised an influence
over her husband which appeared inevitably to ex-

* Nani: Relatione diRoma, 1640. " Con la regina d'Inghilterra
passa coramunicatione de'ministri con officii e donativi di cor-
tesia, e si concede a quella M*** nominatione di cardinale a pare


tend to religion also ; and in many of its usages
and ceremonies the chm^ch of England closely ap-
proximated to that of Home. But these s^nnptoms
were only the forerunners of the very reverse of
what they seemed to promise. It is highly impro-
bable that Charles I. ever in his heart dissented
from the protestant faith ; but even the shght ap-
proximations to the catholic ritual in which he in-
dulged, were decisive of his ruin. It seemed as if
the violent excitement which had caused such long,
universal, and perpetually recurring contlicts in the
protestant world at large, was now concentrated
in the EngUsh puritans. In vain did Ireland strive
to withdraw herself from their despotism, and to
organize herseh" as a cathohc country ; the subjec-
tion to which she was reduced was but the more
absolute. The aristocracy and the commons of Eng-
land constituted a power, the rise of which marks
the restored prosperity of protestantism in Europe.
By these events eternal barriers were erected
against the progress of Catholicism, which has now
its assigned and definite limits ; nor can its most
ardent or sanguine partisans entertain any serious
thought of that conquest of the world which they
once contemplated and projected.

desli altri re." Spada: Relatione della nunziatura diFrancia, 1641 :
" n S*" Conte Rosetti, residente in quel regno, bene corrisponde
neu' osseqtiio gli ordini del S^ card^ Barberini protettore tutti
pieni deU' ardore e zelo di S. Em".


Indeed the intellectual development of Europe
has rendered this impossible.

A current of opinions and of tastes dangerous to
the lofty unity claimed by the church, has set in,
and bears all before it ; the reh^ous element is
become powerless ; pohtical considerations rule the

For it was not by their own arms that the pro-
testants were saved. The main cause of their de-
liverance was a schism in the bosom of cathohcism,
which enabled them to re-establish themselves. In
the year 1631 we find the two great cathohc powers
in alliance with the protestants ; France undis-
guisedly, Spain in secret. It is certain that the
Spaniards had at that time established an under-
standing with the French huguenots.

But the protestants were as üttle united. Not
only did lutherans and calvinists attack each other
— this had always been the case, — but the different
sects of calvinists. although unquestionably con-
tending for a common cause, took opposite sides
in this war. The naval power of the huguenots
was broken, solely by the support which their co-
rehgionists and ancient allies were induced to afford
to the crown of France.

The head of cathohcism himself, the pope of
Rome, who had hitherto directed the attacks on
the protestants, at length put aside these, the high-
est interests of the spiritual authority. /He took
part against those who had laboured most zealously
for the restoration of Catholicism ; his conduct was
guided by the views and considerations incident to

VOL. II. 2 Q


his temporal sovereignty.* He returned to that Hne
of pohcy which had been abandoned ever since the
reign of Paul III. We may remember that in the
earlier half of the sixteenth century, nothing contri-
buted so much to advance the cause of protestant-
ism as the political efforts of the popes : to these,
as far as human views can reach, did protestantism
now owe its salvation and its stability.

But this example could not fail to work upon
the other powers. German-Austria, which had so
long remained unshaken in her orthodoxy, at length
embraced the same policy ; and the position she
assumed subsequently to the peace of Westphalia,
rested on her intimate alliance with North Ger-
many, England, and Holland.

If we inquire what were the deeper causes of
this phsenomenon, we should look for it amiss,
solely in the deadening of religious impulses, or
the embittering of religious differences. It appears
to me that we must seek elsewhere the substance
and the significance of the fact.

In the first place, the great spiritual battle had
accomplished its work in the minds of men. In
earlier times Christianity had been rather an affair
of surrender of the heart and understanding, of
simple unquestioning acceptance, of faith untouch-
ed by a doubt; now it was become a matter of con-
viction, of conscious compliance. Still more im-
portant was it that men had to choose between two
different creeds ; that they had to reject, to abjure,
to change. Men were personally addressed and
solicited ; their freedom of judgement was invoked.


Hence it happened that ideas connected with
Christianity penetrated more deeply and more per-
fectly into every department of life and thought.

To this is to be added another important consi-

It is indeed true that the prevalence of internal
differences disturbed the unity of collective Chris-
tendom ; but, if we do not deceive ourselves, it is
another universal law of human things that this
disturbance prepared a higher and a larger deve-
lopment of the human mind.

In the press of the universal struggle, religion
was conceived by different nations after the different
"varieties of its dogmatical forms. The peculiar
dogma adopted was incorporated with the feeling
of nationality, as a possession of the community —
of the state or the people. It was won by the sword,
maintained amidst a thousand dangers — it had be-
come part of the life's blood of the nation.

Hence it has come to pass, that the states on
either side have grown into great ecclesiastico-
political bodies, whose individuality is marked, on
the catholic, by the measure of their devotedness to
the Roman see, and of the degree of toleration or
exclusion of non- catholics ; but still more strongly
on the Protestant, where the departure from the sym-
bolical books adopted as tests, the mixture of the lu-
theran and the calvinistic creeds, the greater or less
approximation to an episcopal constitution of the
church, form so many striking and obvious di-
stinctions. The first question in every country is,
what is its dominant religion? Christianity appears


under various forms ; but however great be the dis-
crepancies between them, no party can deny to
another the possession of the fundamentals of faith.
On the contrary, these several forms are guaranteed
by compacts and by treaties of peace, to which
all are parties, and which are, as it were, the funda-
mental laws of a universal republic.

Never more can the thought of exalting the one
or the other confession to universal supremacy find
place among men. The only consideration now is,
how each state, each people, can best proceed from
the basis of its own politico-religious principles,
to the development of its intellectual and moral

On this depends the future condition of the















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