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(where they were already widely disseminated,) by

* Maffei, Annali di Gregorio XIII., t. i. p. 331.
t Hamelmann, Oldenburgisches Chronikon, s. 436.


these dispositions of its spiritual rulers. Nothing
was wanting hut a lucky coincidence or a successful
stroke, to give it a decided preponderance in this

Such an event would indeed have produced a
great reaction throughout Germany. The same
chances existed for the bishoprics in Upper as in
Lower Germany ; and as yet, even in those territories
where the restoration had begun, the opposition was
by no means overcome.

Of this Balthasar, abbot of Fulda, had bitter ex-
perience ! The intercession of the neighbouring
princes failed to diminish the weight of grievances
laid before the diet ; the abbot proceeded with reck-
less obstinacy in his restoration of the ancient faith,
and went from place to place to bring about its ac-
complishment, when one day in the summer of 1 576,
as he happened to be in Hamelburg for this purpose,
he was attacked by his nobles with arms in their
hands, and besieged in his own house ; every means
was employed against him, and as his neighbours
looked on complacently, and the bishop of Würz-
burg even lent his assistance to his enemies, he
found himself compelled to abdicate the govern-
ment of his own dominions'^.

* Schannat, Historia Fuldensis, ps. ili. p. 268, gives a letter
from the abbot to pope Gregor)', (dated Aug. 1, 157G,) from the
Archives of the Vatican, which is eminently remarkable. " Cla-
mantes," he says of the threats of his enemies, " nisi consentiam,
ut administratio ditionis mete episcopo tradatur, non aliter se me
ac canem rabidum interfecturos, turn Saxonite et Hassire prin-
cipes in meum gregem immissuros."


Nor did duke Albert carry everything before
him in Bavaria. He complained to the pope that
his nobility would rather renounce the sacrament
altogether, than receive it in one kind.

But it was of far greater importance, that in
the Austrian provinces protestantism gradually ac-
quired a more legitimate and recognised existence.
Under the mild and prudent sway of Maximilian
IL it had become established in Upper and Lower
Austria. Pope Pius V. consequently took an inex-
pressible aversion to that emperor ; when the con-
versation once turned on the war he was carrying
on against the Turks, the pope openly said, he did
not know to which party he wished victory the
least*. Protestantism, however, made unchecked
progress, even in the inner provinces of Austria.
In the year 1568, there were already in Carinthia
twenty-four evangelical pastors, and in 1.571 there
was' only one catholic in the council of the capital
town of Styria. The protestant creed indeed found
no support from the feudal lord of these provinces,
the archduke Charles, who rather on the contrary
sought to introduce the Jesuits, and favoured them
by every means at his disposal ; but the States were
too powerful for himt- They had the upper hand
in the diets, where the business of administration

* Tiepolo, Relatione di Pio IV. e V. : he adds besides, " In
proposito della morte del principe di Spagna apertam*^ disse il
papa haverla sentita con grandissimo dispiacere, perche non vorria
che li stati del re cattolico capitassero in mano de' Tedeschi.

f Socher, Historia Societatis Jesu Provincise Austriee, i. iv.
166, 184; V. 33.


and of the defence of the country was mixed up
with rehgious matters. They exacted reUgious
concessions in requital for every assent they gave
to a pohtical measure. In the year 1578, at the
diet of Brück on the Muhr, the archduke was com-
pelled to allow the free exercise of the confession
of Augsburg, not only in the domains of the nobles
and landed proprietors, where indeed he could not
easily have prevented it, but also in the four im-
portant towns of Grätz, Judenburg, Klagenfurt, and
Laibaeh*. Hence protestantism acquired in these
provinces the same regular organization as in the
Austrian dominions ; a protestant church ministry
was established, a church and school discipline after
the model of thatofWürtemburgwas adopted; here
and there, for example at St. Veit, the catholics
were excluded from the election of councillors f,
and were no longer permitted to fill the provincial
offices; — circumstances, by favour of which the pro-
testant opinions gained a decided superiority, even
in those districts bordering on Italy. The impulse
which the Jesuits had given met here with a steady
and determined counteraction.

We may consider protestantism in the year 1578,
as still the dominant creed of all the Austrian pro-
vinces, whether of the German, Sclavonic, or Hun-
garian tongues, with the single exception of the

* Supplication to his Imp. Rom. Maj, and intercession of the
three principalities and the state, in Lehmann, De Pace Religi-
onis, p. 461 ; a document, which rectifies the account of Khe-
venhiller, Ann. Ferdinandei, i. G.

t Hermann in the Corinthian Zeitschrift, v. p. 189.


Tyrol. The result of our observation of the gene-
ral religious aspect of Germany at this period is,
that the progress we have seen made by restored
Catholicism, was held in check by a successful re-
sistance, and met by a corresponding progress on
the part of the new confession.


We are now arrived at a remarkable epoch, in
which the two grand religious tendencies are once
more aroused to action, with equal ardour and
equal hope of victory.

But affairs had already materially changed from
their former position. In the earlier ages of the
reformation both parties sought to come to an un-
derstanding ; a reconciliation had been attempted
in Germany, prepared in France, and called for in
the Netherlands, and appeared, indeed, to be still
feasible, since practical toleration partially existed.
But now their differences seemed to stand out with
greater sharpness and animosity, and through all
Europe they challenged each other to the combat.
It is well worth our while to glance over the state of
affairs as they stood in the years 1578-9.

Let us begin in the east, with Poland, where
the Jesuits had already made their way, and were
regarded by the bishops as allies and supporters of



their own power. Cardinal Hosius, the bishop of
Ermeland, founded a college for them in Brauns-
berg in the year 15G9, and they fixed themselves,
with the assistance of the bishops of those places,
in Pultusk and Posen. Bishop Valerian of Wilna
thought it a matter of the utmost importance to
anticipate the Lithuanian lutherans, w^ho intended
to establish a univ^ersity on their own principles,
by the endowment of a Jesuit school in his see.
He was already old and feeble, and wished his last
days to be marked by this meritorious act. The first
members of the company of Jesus arrived in the
year 1570*.

The immediate consequence of these exertions
on the part of the catholics was, that the protest-
ants took measures to maintain their ground. In
the convocation diet of 1573, they carried a resolu-
tion to the effect, that no one should be injured or
persecuted on account of his religion f ; and the
bishops were obliged to yield. The example of the
disturbances in the Netherlands was adduced to
prove to them what dangers might arise from their
opposition : from that time the kings of Poland
took an oath to maintain this resolution. In the
year 1 579 the payment of tithes to the clergy was
wholly suspended, and the nuncio asserts that, by
this act alone, twelve hundred parish priests were left
wholly destitute : at the same time a supreme court
of judicature, composed of laity and clergy, was

* Sacchinus, Hist. Soc. Jes., p, ii. lib. viii. 114, p. iii. lib. i.
112, lib. vi. 103—108.
t Fredro, Hcnricus I. rex Polonorum, p. 1 14.


established, which decided all causes, ecclesiastical
as well as temporal. It was matter of astonishment
in Rome that the Polish clergy could acquiesce in
such an institution.

The same struggle was going on in Sweden as in
Poland, and with the most singular characteristics.
It immediately concerned the person of the prince,
who was indeed the object of the contest. In all
the sons of Gustavus Vasa, " the brood of king
Gustavus," as the Swedes called them, there was a
singular mixture of reflection and wilfulness, of de-
votion and violence. The most learned among them
was the second, John. Religious dissensions touched
him the more nearly from his marriage with a ca-
tholic princess, Catherine of Poland, who had shared
his prison, in the narrow solitude of which he had
often received consolation from a catholic priest.
He studied the fathers, in order to gather from their
representations a correct idea of the primitive state
of the church. He delighted in books which
treated of the possibility of a unity of faith^ and was
continually revolving in his mind the questions
connected with that subject. When he succeeded
.to the throne, he accordingly made some advances
to the catholic church ; he published a liturgy,
framed after the model of that of Trent, and in
which Swedish theologians imagined they detected
Romish doctrines*. As he thought he should need

* They are all drawn up in the " Judicium Prsedicatorum Hol-
menss. de publicata Liturgia" in Baaz, Inventarium Ecclesiarum
Sueogoth, p. 393.



the pope's mediation, both with the cathoHc powers
generally, in his Russian war, and with the Spanish
court particularly, in the matter of the maternal
inheritance of his wife, he did not scruple to send
one of the nobles of his kingdom as ambassador to
Rome. He also secretly directed certain Jesuits to
come over to Stockholm from the Netherlands, and
entrusted to their charge an important establish-
ment for education.

His conduct naturally raised the highest hopes
in Rome; and accordingly Antonio Possevin, one
of the ablest members of the company of Jesus,
was selected to make a strenuous attempt to con-
vert king John.

Possevin appeared in Sweden in the year 1578.
The king was not inclined to give way on all points.
He demanded that the clergy should be allowed to
marry, that the laity should receive the cup at the
sacrament, that mass should be said in the verna-
cular tongue, that the church should renounce its
claims on confiscated estates, &c. Possevin had
no authority to go into these questions ; he there-
fore promised to communicate them to the papal
see, and then passed to the dogmatical points of
controversy. In these he was far more fortunate.
After a few conferences, and some time for reflec-
tion, the king declared himself resolved to make the
professio fidei according to the formula of the con-
fession of Trent. This he accordingly did; he then
confessed to Possevin, who once more asked him
whether he conformed to the papal decision in re-


gard to the communion in one kind ; and on the
king's declaration that he did, Possevin solemnly
granted him absolution. It almost appears as if
this absolution were the chief object of the wishes
and the wants of the king. He had caused his
brother to be put to death, certainly with the pre-
vious sanction of his estates, but still it was the
death of a brother, and marked with every circum-
stance of violence. This absolution seemed to
tranquillize his spirit. Possevin prayed to God to
permit him fully to turn the heart of the monarch.
The king arose, and throwing himself into the arms
of his confessor, exclaimed, " As I embrace thee,
so do I likewise the Roman catholic faith for ever."
He then received the Lord's supper according to
the catholic ritual.

After this satisfactory fulfilment of his mission,
Possevin went back to Rome, rendered an ac-
count of it to the pope, and also, under promise of
secrecy, to the most powerful catholic sovereigns.
It now only remained to take into consideration
those demands of the king upon which he made the
re-establishment of the catholic faith in his king-
dom mainly to depend. Possevin was a man of
great address, eloquent, and full of talent for nego-
tiation ; but he allowed himself to be too easily
persuaded that his success was complete. From his
representation, pope .Gregory did not think it ne-
cessary to give way on any point ; on the contrary,
he required of the king a voluntary and uncondi-
tional conversion. He therefore despatched the


Jesuit a second time, charged with letters to this
intent, and with indulgencies for all who would
become converts.

In the meanwhile the opposite party had not been
idle ; admonitory letters had been sent by protest-
ant princes, for the account of Possevin's mission
had instantly spread over Europe. Chytreeus had
dedicated to the king his treatise on the Confession
of Augsburg, which had made some impression on
the learned monarch. From this moment the pro-
testants never again lost sight of him.

Possevin now arrived at Stockholm, no longer,
as before, in a civilian's dress, but in the customary
habit of his order, and furnished with a vast quan-
tity of catholic books. Even his mere appearance
made an unfavourable impression ; he hesitated for
a moment, whether he should produce the pope's
answer, but at length could withhold it no longer,
and communicated it to the king in an audience
which lasted two hours. Who can penetrate the
secret workings of a wavering and unsteady spirit ?
Perhaps the self-love of the prince was wounded by
so absolute a refusal of his terms ; perhaps too he
was convinced that nothing was to be accomplished
in Sweden without the proposed concessions : he
had no inclination to abdicate his throne for the sake
of religion. In short this audience was decisive.
From that hour the king showed a marked aver-
sion to the emissary of the pope. He required his
Jesuit school-men to receive the sacrament in both
kinds, and to perform mass in the Swedish Ian-


guage ; and as they did not obey him, (which in-
deed they could not do,) he refused them the pro-
vision they had hitherto enjoyed. They quitted
Stockhohn shortly afterwards, doubtless not mere-
ly, as they gave out, on account of the plague.
The Protestant nobles, the younger brother of the
king, Charles of Sudermania, who was inclined to
Calvinism, and the envoys from Lubec, neglected
nothing which could increase this growing aver-
sion. The only remaining stay and hope of the
catholics was the queen, and after her death, the
heir to the throne ; for the time, the sovereign
power in Sweden remained substantially protest-

In England the government became more so
every day under queen Elizabeth. But there ex-
isted in that kingdom points of attack of another
kind ; it was full of catholics ; it was not the popu-
lation of Ireland alone that adhered with constancy
to the faith and ritual of their ancestors, but in
England probably one half of the nation, if not, as
some have maintained, a larger proportion, were
still attached to Catholicism. It is always matter of
astonishment that the English catholics, at least for
the first fifteen years of Elizabeth's reign, submitted
to the Protestant laws of that queen. They took the
oath which was required of them, although diame-
trically opposed to the papal authority; they attend-

* In this whole account I follow the reports of the Jesuits,
(which, by what I can find, have not hitherto been used,) which
may be seen at length in Sacchinus, Hist. Societatis Jesu,
parsiv. lib. vi. n. 64 — 76, and lib. vii. n. 83 — 111.


ed the protestant churches, and their consciences
were satisfied if they kept together in going and
coming, and avoided the society of protestants*.

Rome founded great hopes upon this condition
of things, and was convinced that some occasion,
some sHght advantage alone was wanting to arouse
all the catholics in the coimtry to resistance. Pius V.
had declared that he wished he could shed his blood
in an expedition against England. Gregory XIII.,
who never abandoned the idea of this enterprise,
was rather inclined to employ the warlike turn and
illustrious position of Don John of Austria for its
accomplishment ; he therefore sent his nuncio Se<^a,
who had been with Don John in the Netherlands,
to Spain, expressly with the view of gaining over
king Philip to his object.

Either, however, from Philip's jealousy of the
ambitious designs of his brother, and his aversion
to any new political embarrassment, or from some
other impediments, these vast schemes came to
nothing, and their projectors were forced to be satis-
fied with less brilliant enterprises.

* Relatione del presente Stato d' Inghilterra, cavata da una
Icttera scrltta diLondra, etc., Roma 1590, (j)rinted pamphlet,) is
entirely in accordance on this head with a passage from Riba-
daneira. De Schismate, which has been quoted by Hallam (Con-
stitutional History of England, i. p. 162), and is without doubt
the original source. " Si permettevano giuramenti impii contra
r autorita della sede apostolica, e questo con poco o nissun scru-
pulo di conscienza. AUora tutti andavano communemente alle
sinagoghc dcgli eretici ct alle jirediche loro menandovi li figli et

famiglie si teneva allora jicr segno distintivo sufficicnte

venire alle chiese prima degli eretici e non partirsi in compagnia


Pope Gregory then turned his eyes to Ireland.
Ireland had been represented to him as unsur-
passed in the strictness and constancy of her at-
tachment to the catholic faith ; a victim to the
tyranny and cruelty and rapacity of England ; her
dissensions fostered, her barbarism designedly per-
petuated, her conscience trammelled and violated :
he was told that she was consequently ready at any
moment to break out into open rebellion ; that no-
thing was necessary but to send a few troops to her
assistance ; that an army of five thousand men
would conquer Ireland ; that there was not a for-
tress which could hold out above four days*.

Fope Gregory was easily persuaded. There hap-
pened to be staying at Rome at that time an En-
glish exile, one Thomas Stukely ; an adventurer by
nature, but possessed in an extraordinary degree of
the talent of gaining access to men in power, and
winning their confidence. The pope had made him
his chamberlain, and given him the title of mar-
quis of Leinster ; he also advanced 40,000 scudi to
equip him with vessels and men : Stukely was to
touch on the coast of France, where he was to be

* DIscorso sopra il Regno d' Irlanda e della Gente che bisogneria
per conquistarlo, fatto a Gregorio XIII., Library at Vienna,
Fugger MSS. The government of the queen is declared to be a
tyranny : " Lasciando il governo a ministri Inglesi, i quali per
arricchire se stessi usavano tutta 1' arte della tirannide in quel
regno, come trasportando le commodita del paese in Inghilterra,
tassando il popolo contra le leggi e privilegi antichi, e mante-
nendo guerra e fattioni tra i paesani, — non volendo gli Inglesi
che gli habitant! imparassero la difFerenza fra il viver libero e la


joined by another small body of men, got together
(also with the pope's assistance) by an Irish refugee
of the name of Geraldine. Philip, who had no wish
to engage in a war, but was not unwilling to give
Elizabeth some occupation at home, advanced money
for the same purpose*. Stukely, however, in the
most unexpected manner, allowed himself to be
persuaded to join the expedition of king Sebastian
against the Moors, with the troops destined for
Ireland, and found his death in that enterprise.
Geraldine was reduced to try his fortune alone ; he
landed in June 1579, obtained some advantages, and
made himself master of the fort which commanded the
harbour of Smerwick. Meanwhile the earl of Des-
mond was in arms against the queen, and the whole
country in agitation. But one reverse soon followed
another, the greatest of which was, that Geraldine
himself was killed in a skirmish. The earl of Des-
mond could now no longer hold out. The assistance
given by the pope was not sufficient, and the money
upon which the Irish counted was not forthcoming.
The English maintained their victorious position,
and punished the rebellion with fearful cruelty.
Men and women were driven together into barns,
and there burned, children were strangled, all
Munster laid waste, and English settlers poured
into the devastated province.

* According to the nuncio Sega, in his Relatione compendiosa
(MS. in the Berlin library), 20,000 scudi. " Altre mercedi fece
fare al barone d' Acres, al S"" Carlo Buono et altri nobili Inglcsi
che si trovavano in Madrid, eh' egli spinse andare a questa impresa
insieme col vescovo Lionese d' Irlanda."


To accomplish anything of importance, the at-
tempt must evidently be made in England itself;
but this appeared impracticable unless the political
aspect of Europe should change : and should this
take place, if they hoped to find the catholic popu-
lation not wholly altered, if they expected to find
them still catholics, they must afford them spiritual

William Allen first conceived the project of col-
lecting together the young English catholics who
were residing on the continent for the prosecution
of their studies ; and, principally by the aid of pope
Gregory, he established a college for them at
Douay. But this did not satisfy the pope, who
wished to secure a retreat for these fugitives under
his own eye, and to place them in a more quiet
and less dangerous station than Douay, in the
turbulent Netherlands. He therefore established
an English college at Rome, granted it a rich
abbey, and consigned it to the care of the Jesuits
in 1579*,

None were admitted into this college but those
who pledged themselves to return to England when
their studies were completed, and to preach the Ro-
man catholic faith. This was the exclusive end of
their training. Excited as they were by that religious
enthusiasm which the spiritual practices of Ignatius
Loyola tended to generate, the missionaries whom
pope Gregory the Great sent to convert the Anglo-

* We may here compare the relation of the Jesuits in Sacchi-
nus, pars iv. lib. vi. 6. lib. vii. 10 — 30, with the narratives of
Camden, Rerum Britannic., torn. i. p. 315.


Saxons were held up as examples for their imita-

A few of the older students led the way. In the
year 1 580, two English Jesuits, Parsons and Cam-
pion, returned to England. Constantly pursued,
and reduced to the necessity of perpetually chang-
ing their names and their dress, they at length
succeeded in reaching the capital, where they se-
parated, and traversed, the one the northern, the
other the southern counties, principally residing
in the houses of the catholic nohlemen. Their
coming was always announced, but their hosts
cautiously received them as strangers. Meanwhile
a chapel was prepared in the innermost chamber of
the house, into which they were conducted, and
there they found the members of the family assem-
bled to receive their blessing. The missionary sel-
dom staid more than one night. The evening was
occupied in religious preparation and in confession ;
the next morning mass was said, the Lord's supper
administered, and a sermon preached. All the ca-
tholics who were within reach assembled, and their
number was often very great. That religion which
for nine hundred years had extended its sway over
the island, was now once more taught, with the ad-
ditional zest of secrecy and novelty. Synods were
held by stealth ; a printing press was set up, first
in a village near London, and afterwards in a lonely
house in a neighbouring wood ; cathohc writings
suddenly reappeared, composed with all the skill
which constant practice in controversy gives, often
with elegance, and calculated to make a deeper im-


pression from the mystery of their origin. The im-
mediate consequence of these pubUcations was, that
the cathoUcs ceased to attend the protestant service,
or to observe the ecclesiastical laws of the queen ;

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 39)