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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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come forward with a protest threatening the em-
peror and princes with the privation of all their
rights ; he even thought that the moment for it
was already arrived f. The nuncio, who had a
nearer view of things, held this to be inexpedient.
He saw that there was nothing more to fear. The
protestants were divided, the catholics held toge-
ther. They often assembled at the house of the
nuncio for the purpose of consulting on measures
to be taken in common. Canisius, from his un-
spotted reputation, his unquestioned orthodoxy and
his prudence, had a great influence over them, and
they decided that no demand for concession should
be listened to ; this diet was indeed the first in
which the catholic princes manifested an effectual
resistance to innovation. The admonitions of the
pope were heard with attention ; the decrees of
Trent were previously accepted in a separate meet-
ing of the ecclesiastical princes.

From this moment we may date the commence-
ment of a new life in the catholic church of Ger-
many. These decrees were gradually promulgated
in provincial synods, and seminaries were esta-
blished in the bishops' sees ; the first who com-

* Maderus de VitaP. Canisii, lib. ii, c. ii. Sacchinus, iii, ii. 22.
t Catena, Vita di Pio V., p. 40, gives an extract from the
Instruction. Gratiani, Vita Commendoni, lib. iii. c. ii.


plied with this rule was, so far as I can discover,
the bishop of Eichstadt, who founded the Wilibald
college*. The prof ess io ßdei was subscribed by high
and low. It is a highly important fact that this
was rendered compulsory in the universities. This
was a rule proposed by Lainez and approved by the
pope, and now brought into operation in Germany,
mainly by the zeal of Canisius. Not only could no
university appointment be given, but no degree, not
even in the faculty of medicine, could be granted,
without the previous subscription of the iirofessio
fidei. The first university in which this was intro-
duced was, as far as I can find, Dillingen ; by de-
grees the others followed. The strictest visitations
were set on foot, and the bishops, who had hitherto
been very indulgent, now manifested great zeal and

One of the most zealous among them was with-
out doubt Jacob von Eltz, elector of Treves from
1567 to 1581. He was reared in the ancient disci-
pline of Louvaine, and devoted his literary attain-
ments and labours to Catholicism. He collected a
martyrology and composed prayers for the hours.
Even under his predecessor he had taken the great-
est share in the introduction of the Jesuits into
Treves, and immediately upon his installation he en-
trusted to them the visitation of his diocese. Even
schoolmasters were obliged to subscribe the prof es-
sio fidei. Under the influence of the methodical
spirit of the Jesuits, a system of strict discipline and

*• Falkenstein, Nordgauische Alterthümer, i. 222.


subordination was introduced among the clergy ; a
regulation was made that the rector should every
month give in a report to the dean, who in his turn,
at the expiration of every quarter of a year, was to
lay a report before the archbishop : all who refused
obedience to these measures were sent out of the
country without delay. A portion of the decrees of
the council -of Trent was printed for the use of the
clergy of the diocese, and disseminated amongst
them for their guidance, while, in order to do away
with all differences in the ritual, a new edition of
the missal was published, A new and rigorous or-
ganization, to which Bartholomew Bodeghem of
Delft especially contributed, was given to the eccle-
siastical tribunal. The archbishop was never so
happy as when he met with any one desirous to
return from the errors of the protestant church ;
on such an occasion he never failed to give the be-
nediction in person*.

But other motives besides those arising from
their connexion with Rome, now urged the spiri-
tual princes to an active and rigid performance of
the duties of their station. They shared, to an equal
if not a higher degree, in the reasons of the tempo-
ral rulers for restoring the catholic faith in their
territories, since their ecclesiastical character pro-
voked a stronger opposition from a population in-
clining to protestantism.

This important chapter of the German history
opens upon us at Treves. The archbishops of

* Browerus, Annales Trevirenses, ii. xxii. 25 : generally speak-
ing, on these points, our best authority.


Treves, like other spiritual princes, had always been
on bad terms with their capital city. In the six-
teenth century protestant doctrines furnished a new
element of dispute ; the ecclesiastical tribunal in
particular met with obstinate resistance. Jacob
von Eltz at last found himself compelled to lay re-
gular siege to the city, which he subdued. He then
produced a decree of the emperor, favourable to his
claims, and thus reduced the citizens both to tem-
poral and spiritual obedience.

Another step taken by him was productive of
wide-spreading effects. In the year 1572 he ex-
cluded the protestants irrevocably from his court.
The consequences of this measure were particularly
felt by the country nobles, who looked to the court
for their advancement and now found themselves
cut off from every hope for the future ; it is likely
enough that more than one of them was thus in-
duced to return to the ancient faith.

Daniel Brendel, elector of Mayence, neighbour to
the archbishop of Treves, was also a zealous catho-
lic. Contrary to the general advice of those around
him, he re-established the ceremony of the proces-
sion of Corpus Christi, in which he officiated him-
self ; on no account would he have neglected ves-
pers, and always insisted on attending to spiritual
affairs before all others ; amongst his privy-coun-
cillors, those received the greatest marks of his
goodwill who were the most zealous catholics ;
the Jesuits speak in terms of admiration and grati-
tude of the favour they enjoyed at his court, and he
sent several pupils to the Collegium Gcrmanicum


at Rome*. He did not however feel inclined to
proceed to such extremities as Jacob von Eltz. His
zeal for religion was tinged with a sort of irony.
Many of his vassals expostulated with him on his
introduction of the Jesuits : " What ! " he replied,
'' do you tolerate me, who am far from discharging
my duties as I ought, and will you not tolerate men
who perform theirs so admirably f ? " We have no
account of the answer which he returned to the
Jesuits when they urged the complete extirpation of
protestantism from the country. It is certain that
he always tolerated lutherans and calvinists both
in the city and at court ; in some few places he even
permitted the use of the evangelical mode of wor-
ship! ; probably however he was thus indulgent from
consciousness of his inability to put a stop to it. He
took very decisive steps in a more remote part of
his domains, where he was not overawed by such
powerful and warlike neighbours as the count pala-
tine on the Rhine. The restoration of Catholicism
at Eichsfeld was his work. Protestant doctrines
had there gained a firm footing under the favour of
the nobles ; they had even penetrated into Heili-
genstadt, in the very presence of the chapter which
possessed the patronage of all the churches: there
was a lutheran preacher in the latter place, and
the sacrament was administered in both kinds ; and

* Serarius, Moguntiacarum Rerum Libri v.; in the section on
Daniel, in particular, cap. viii. xi. xxii. xxiii.

t Valerandus Sartorlus in Serarius, p. 921.

X Complaint of Robert Turner, who sought a Boniface and
found only a "principem politicum." (Serarius, p. 947.)



on one occasion at Easter there were but twelve ci»
tizens of any consideration who partook of the com-
munion according to cathoHc rites *. At this very
period — in the year 1 574 — the archbishop made his
appearance in person at Eichsfeld, accompanied
by two Jesuits, for the purpose of holding a visita-
tion of the churches. He did not proceed to ex-
treme acts of violence, but employed means w^ell
calculated to effect his purpose. He removed the
Protestant preacher at Heiligenstadt, while on the
other hand he founded a college of Jesuits. He dis-
missed none of the municipal council, but effectu-
ally prevented the admission of protestants for the
future, by making a slight addition to the oath
taken by the members, in virtue of which each
councillor bound himself to obey his grace the
elector both in spiritual and temporal matters. His
most important step was the choice of a decided
catholic to fill the office of high bailiff, Leopold
von Stralendorf, who scrupled not on his own re-
sponsibility to follow out the milder measures of his
master with great severity ; and who, in an admini-
stration of six-and-twenty years, conducted with in-
flexible consistency, succeeded in restoring to the
catholic faith its predominance both in town and
country. He expelled the protestant preachers from
both, without heeding the opposition of the nobles,
and replaced them by pupils from the new Jesuits'

The example of similar proceedings had already

* Johann Wolf, Geschichte und Beschreibung vun Heiligen-
stadt, p. 59.


been given in that part of Germany by another spi-
ritual prince.

In the diocese of Fulda the exercise of the evan-
gelical religion had already been permitted by six
abbots successively, and even the young abbot Bal-
thasar von Dernbach, surnamed Gravel, promised,
at his election in the year 1570, to make no change
in this respect. But whether it was that his ambi-
tion became inflamed by the favour shown him by
the papal court, or whether the restoration of Ca-
tholicism appeared in his eyes the fit means of in-
creasing his insignificant authority, or whether he
had really undergone a more profound change of
opinion, — he gradually evinced not only dislike, but
hostility to the protestant doctrines. The first thing
was to summon the Jesuits to his aid. He was not
personally acquainted with any, nor had he ever
seerrone of their colleges ; general report alone, the
descriptions of a few scholars from the college of
Treves, and perhaps the recommendations of Daniel
Brendel, determined him. The members of the
order accepted his invitation with alacrity ; those
from Mayence and Treves founded a colony in
common : the abbot built them a house and school
and assigned them a pension, and, being himself
extremely ignorant and unlettered, submitted to
receive instruction from them*.

* ReiiFenberg, Historia Societatis Jesu ad Rhenum Inferiorem,
i. vi. ii. ; who adds in this passage to the notices of Sacchinus
(iii. vii. 68.) from a treatise drawn up for him by the Jesuit
Feurer. On the protestant side, complaints of the city of Fulda,
and of the knights of that chapter, in Lehmann, De Pace Religio-
nis, ii. ix. 257.


Dissensions soon arose between the abbot and
the chapter, who had a voice in affairs of this na-
ture, and by no means approved of the invitation
to the Jesuits ; and, a favourable opportunity hav-
ing soon presented itseh', Balthasar was not long
in attacking the city.

The parish priest of Fulda, who had hitherto
preached evangelical tenets, returned to the catho-
lic faith, and once more began to perform the cere-
mony of baptism in the Latin tongue, and to ad-
minister the sacrament of the Lord's supper in one
kind only. The citizens, long accustomed to the re-
formed ritual, were not at all inclined to acquiesce in
this change, and demanded the removal of the priest.
It may easily be imagined that their prayer was not
listened to. Not only was the catholic form of wor-
ship strictly observed in the cathedral ; the evange-
lical preachers were dismissed one by one from the
other churches, and Jesuits placed in their stead.
The abbot had already exchanged his protestant
councillors and officers for others of catholic opin-

It was in vain that the nobility remonstrated
against these measures ; as if astonished, Bal-
thasar replied, " that he hoped it was not their
intention to prescribe rules for the government of
the territory entrusted to him by God." Several
powerful princes of the empire endeavoured by
means of embassies to persuade him to desist from
these changes, and to dismiss the jesaits ; but he
remained inexorable. He even proceeded to threat-
en the knights of his dominions, who claimed a
sort of immediate dependence on the empire ; — a


prerogative which would have been exceedingly
impaired could the spiritual ruler have enforced
obedience in matters of religion.

Such were the steps by which Catholicism, after
its conquest might have been deemed accomplished,
arose in renovated strength in Germany. The most
various motives lent their aid ; the religion and the
doctrines which were again beginning to resume
their ancient sway, and that system of ecclesiastical
subordination restored by the decrees of the council
of Trent, were especially seconded by motives of
internal policy : it was clear, how far more powerful
was the sovereign whose belief was shared by his sub-
jects. The restoration of the church had, indeed,
at first extended merely to separate points ; but
these opened a boundless prospect to the spirit of
catholic reform. The fact that the spiritual princes
met with no more general resistance, must have had
vast and peculiar weight. At the peace of Augs-
burg an attempt had been made to secure toleration
to the Protestant communities inhabiting ecclesi-
astical territories, by an express declaration of the
emperor ; the spiritual princes now refused to take
any cognizance of this declaration ; at all events,
they were utterly regardless of it. The imperial
power was not sufficiently strong or resolute to
come to any effective decision on the subject, far less
to enforce obedience. In the diets of the empire
there was neither energy nor unity enough to main-
tain any such resolution.

The greatest changes took place without noise,
without attracting the serious observation of cotem-


poraries, without finding mention in the works of
historians, — as if such were the natural and inevi-
table course of events.


Whilst the struggles of Catholicism were thus
mighty and successful in Germany, an agitation
from the same cause arose in the Netherlands and
in France, though marked by very different cha-

The fundamental difference was, that in each of
these latter countries there existed a strong central
power, which spontaneously took part in every
fluctuation of public opinion, put itself at the head
of religious movements, and was directly affected
by the opposition they encountered. The various
relations of the government had consequently a
greater unity, and its proceedings were conducted
with more consistency and energy. It is well
known how numerous were the measures taken by
Philip II. at the commencement of his government
in the Netherlands, to ensure perfect obedience ;
he was compelled to abandon one after another, and
he only held fast with inflexible and relentless per-
tinacity to those which conduced to the mainte-
nance of Catholicism and of the unity of the church.


He completely altered the ecclesiastical constitu-
tion of the country by the creation of new archbi-
shoprics and bishoprics. No opposition, no ap-
peal to the rights he thus invaded, turned Philip
from his purpose.

These bishoprics assumed a double importance
since the council of Trent had so exceedingly in-
creased the rigour of church discipline. After a
short deliberation, Philip II. had adopted the de-
crees of the council, and directed their promulga-
tion in the Netherlands, as well as in his Spanish
dominions. The people of the former country, who
had hitherto been exempt from any galling restraint,
were now subjected to the strictest supervision and
to all the rigours of forms and ceremonies from
which they were just anticipating entire emancipa-
tion. To this cause of discontent we must add the
penal laws, so many of which had been enacted by
the preceding government of the Netherlands, and
the zeal of the inquisitors, daily more and more sti-
mulated by the new Roman tribunal.

The Netherlanders left no means untried to move
the king to relax from his severity, and he some-
times appeared inclined to milder measures. Count
Egmont imagined, during his stay in Spain, that he
had received his assurances to that effect ; but this
was scarcely to be expected. We remarked in a
former place how much Philip's power throughout
his dominions rested on the religious temper of the
times ; had he made concessions to the Nether-
landers, they would have been demanded in Spain,
where he could not have granted them. It cannot


be denied that he was subject to the pressure of a
tyrannous necessity'; but, besides, these were times
in which the accession of Pius V., and the pro-
ceedings which marked the beginning of his reign,
awakened a new zeal throughout the whole catholic
world. Philip was singularly devoted to that pope
and lent a ready ear to his exhortations. At this
moment the attack of the Turks upon Malta was
repulsed, and the bigoted enemies of the Nether-
landers might, as the prince of Orange feared,
have taken advantage of the impression made by
this victory to bring the king to some violent de-
termination*. And in fact, towards the end of the
year 1565 an edict appeared which surpassed all
former ones in severity.

The penal laws and the decrees of the council,
and of the subsequent provincial synods, were to be
most scrupulously executed ; the inquisitors were
to have exclusive cognizance of religious offences ;
all the civil authorities were instructed to aöbrd
their assistance; and in each province a commissary
was appointed to watch over the execution of this
edict, and to report thereon every three months f.

It is evident that the effect of this edict was to
establish a spiritual domination, if not as strict as
in Spain, certainly not less so than that of Italy.

The consequence was, that the people flew to
arms ; the destruction of images began, and the
whole country was wasted by fire and sword : there

* The prince held Granvella in suspicion. See his letter in
the Archives de la Maison d'Orange-Nassau, i. 289.

t Strada, after a formula of the ISth Dec. 1565, lib. iv. p. 94.


was a moment indeed in which the government was
compelled to give way : bat as usually happens,
acts of violence defeated their own ends ; the more
moderate and quiet of the inhabitants were alarmed,
and lent their assistance to the government. The
Governess was victorious ; after she had taken the
rebellious places, she felt herself strong enough to
impose an oath upon the men in office, and even
upon the king's vassals generally, by which they
solemnly bound themselves to the maintenance
of the catholic faith, and the extirpation of he-

The king, however, was not yet satisfied. These
events occurred at that unfortunate moment marked
by the catastrophe of his son Don Carlos, and
never was he more stern or more inflexible. The
pope again exhorted him to make no concession
prejudicial to Catholicism; the king assured his ho-
liness that he would not suffer even the roots of a
malignant plant to remain in the Netherlands, and
that he was determined either to lose the provinces,
or to maintain inviolate the catholic religionf . In
order to carry this resolution into effect, as soon as
the disturbances were put down, he sent into the
Netherlands his best general, the duke of Alva, at
the head of a well-appointed army.

Let us pause a moment to consider the funda-

* Brandt, Histoire de la Reformation des Pays Bas, i. 156.

t Cavalli, Dispaccio di Spagna, 7 Aug. 1567 : " Rispose ilre,
che quanto alle cose della religione S. Santita stasse di buon
animo, che owero si han da perder tutti quei stati o che si con-
servera in essi la vera cattolica religione, ne comportera che vi ri-
manghi, per quanto potra far lui, alcuua radice di mala pianta."


mental idea which guided all Alva's proceedings
and conduct.

Alva was convinced that in all violent revolution-
ary movements everything was accomplished when
the leaders were got rid of. The fact that Charles
v., after all his mighty victories, was almost driven
from the imperial throne, he attributed to the for-
bearance of that prince in sparing his enemies when
he had them in his power. The alliance between
the French and the Spaniards, which was contracted
at the congress of Bayonne in 1565, and the terms
there agreed upon, have been the subjects of much
discussion. Of all that has been said about them
thus much only is certain, — that the duke of Alva
exhorted the queen of France to get rid of the lead-
ers of the huguenots by fair means or foul, and for
ever. What he then recommended to others, he
did not now hesitate to put in practice. Philip II.
had furnished him with some blank warrants to
which his royal signature was affixed. The first
use he made of them was to arrest Egmont and
Horn, both of whom he assumed to have been im-
plicated in the former troubles. " May it please
your sacred catholic Majesty," he begins the letter
which he sent to the king on this occasion, (and
Avhich seems to prove that he had no express com-
mand to act as he did,) " as soon as I arrived at
Brussels I obtained the necessary information from
the proper sources, and then secured the person of
count Egmont, and arrested count Horn and some
few other s^*^."

* Dispaccio di Cavalli, 16 Sett. The Governess caused her


If we inquire why a year afterwards he sentenced
the prisoners to death, we find that it M^as not from
a conviction of their guilt resulting from the trial ;
for they were chargeable rather with not having
prevented, than with having caused, the commo-
tions; neither was it in consequence of a command
from the king, who, on the contrary, left it to the
duke to carry the sentence into execution or not,
as he deemed it most expedient. The cause was
as follows. A small band of protestants had made
an incursion into the country; they had not indeed
achieved anything of importance, but had gained a
slight advantage at Heihgerlee, and a general in the
king's army of high reputation, the duke of Arem-
berg, had fallen in the encounter. Alva says in his
despatches to the king, that as he had observed
that the people had been thrown into a ferment by
this^disaster, and were become daring, he consi-
dered it necessary to show that he in nowise feared
them ; he also wished to crush all hope of obtaining
the liberation of the prisoners by fresh disturbances,
and had therefore determined immediately to cause
the sentence to be executed. Such were the mo-
complaints regarding these arrests to be transmitted to the king.
The king answered he had not commanded them. To prove this,
he showed the letter from Alva, from which the passage intended
to prove his assertion is here given. It runs thus : " Sacra cat-
tolica Maesta, da poi ch' io gionsi in Brusselles, pigliai le in-
formation da chi dovea delle cose di qua, onde poi mi son assicu-
rato del conte di Agmon e fatto ritener il conte d' Orno con al-
quanti altri. Sara ben che V. M. per bon rispetto ordini ancor
lei che sia fatto I'istesso di Montigni" (who was in Spain) " e suo
ajutante di camera." Hereupon followed the arrest of Montigny.


tives which caused the death of these nohle men,
whose guilt consisted in the defence of the ancient
and estabhshed Uberties of their country, — in whom
no capital offence could be discovered. They fell,
rather as victims to the momentary considerations
of a perverse and tyrannical policy, than to any
principle of law or justice. Even then did Alva ad-
vert to Cliarles V., whose errors he resolved not to

We perceive that Alva was cruel upon principle.
Who ever found mercy at that fearful tribunal
which he established under the name of the coun-
cil for the prevention of public disturbances ? He

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 39)