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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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preachers who were seized were hanged. They
waged, with full consciousness, a war of religion.
This was, in a certain sense, the most prudent
course they could take in their situation ; they
could never have reduced the protestants to com-
plete subjection ; while by this decided policy they
secured all the elements of Catholicism existing
throughout the countiy on their side, and excited
them to spontaneous activity. The BaiJliu Servaes


of Zealand delivered the county of Waes into their
hands ; Hülst and Axel surrendered, and Alessan-
dro Farnese soon found himself in sufficient force
to make an attack upon the larger cities ; he was
already in possession of the country and the coast.
One after the other, Ypres, Bruges, and lastly Ghent^
where Imbize himself had been a party to the
treaty, were compelled to surrender ; very tole-
rable terms were conceded to the communes in
their political character ; for the most part their
privileges were respected, but the protestants
were banished without mercy ; the principal stipu-
lations invariably were, the return of the catholic
clergy, and the restoration of the churches to the
catholic ritual.

In spite of all these successes, nothing lasting
seemed to be accomplished, no security attained,
so long as the prince of Orange lived to give con-
sistency and effect to the struggle, and to sustain
hope even in the conquered.

The Spaniards had set a price of 25,000 scudi
upon his head. In the fierce and excited state of
men's minds, there could not fail to be some who
would strive to earn this reward, urged to it equally
by lust of gain and by fanaticism. I know of no
greater blasphemy than that contained in the papers
of the Biscayan Jaureguy, w4io was seized in an
attempt upon the life of the prince. He wore, as
a sort of amulet, prayers in which the merciful
Godhead; which had manifested itself to man in the
person of Christ, was invoked to favour murder ;
in which a share of the price of blood was promised


(should the deed be achieved) to the divine persons ;
to the Mother of God of Bayonne, a robe, a lamp,
and a crown ; to the Mother of God of Aranzosu,
a crown ; to the Lord Jesus himself a rich cur-
tain ! * Luckily this fanatic was seized ; but in
the meantime another was on his way. At the
moment that the sentence of outlawry against
Jaureguy was proclaimed in Maestrich t, a Burgun-
dian, one Balthasar Gerard, who was living there,
was possessed by the desire of carrying the at-
tempted murder into execution f. The hope of
acquiring earthly fortune and respect if he suc-
ceeded, and the glory of a martyr if he fell, — ideas
which were encouraged by a Jesuit of Treves —
had tormented him day and night, until he set out
to perpetrate the deed. He presented himself to
the prince as an exile, and having thus found ad-

* " Contemporary copy of a vow and of certain prayers found
in the form of an amulet upon Jaureguy," in Lord F.Egerton's Col-
lection. " A vos, Senor Jesus Chi'isto, redemptor y Salvador
del mundo, criador del cielo y de la tierra, os ofFrezco, siendo
osservido librarme con vida despues de haver efFectuado mi deseo,
un belo muy rico." And so it goes on.

t Relatione del successo della morte di GuiJielmo di Nassau,
principe di Orange e delli tormenti patiti del generosissimo gio-
vane Baldassarre Gerardi Borgognone : Inff. politt. xii, contains
some circumstances differing from the customary accounts :
" Gerardi, la cui madre & diBisansone, d' anni 28 incirca, giovane
non meno dotto che eloquente ;" — he had entertained this project
for seven years and a half; — " Offerendosi dunque 1' opportunity
di portar le lettere del duca d' Alansone al Nassau, essendo giä
lui gentilhuomo di casa, alii 7 Luglio un hora e mezzo dopo pranso
uscendo il principe della tavola scargandoli un archibugetto con
tre palle gli colse sotto la zinna manca e gli fece una ferita di
due diti colla quale 1' ammazz6."


mittance, he watched a favourable moment, and
killed the prince of Orange at one shot, (July 1584).
He was seized, but no torture wrung from him a
sigh; he persisted in saying that were the deed still
to do, he would do it again. Whilst he expired at
Delft amidst the curses of the people, the canons
of Herzogenbusch celebrated his achievement with
a solemn Te Deum.

The passions of both parties were in a state of
the fiercest excitement, but the impulse given to
the catholics was the strongest ; it accomplished
its end, and bore off the victory.

Had the prince lived, it was believed that he
would have found means to relieve Antwerp, which
was besieged, as he had promised ; but now there
was no one to fill his place.

The means of attack brought against Antwerp
were so vast that the other considerable cities of
Brabant were also immediately menaced by them :
the prince of Parma cut off from all equally the
supply of provisions. Brussels was the first to
yield. No sooner was this city, accustomed to
abundance and luxury, threatened v/ith want, than
discord broke out and soon led to a surrender ; then
Mechlin fell ; and at length, when the last attempt
to cut through the dykes and to procure means of
subsistence by land failed, Antwerp itself was forced
to surrender.

The same indulgent terms were granted to the
cities of Brabant as to those of Flanders : Brussels
was excused from the payment of contributions :
the inhabitants of Antwerp were promised that no


Spanish garrison should be quartered in their city,
and that the citadel should not be repaired. One
obligation was accepted in the place of all others —
that the churches and chapels should be restored
and the exiled priests and clergy recalled ; on this
point the king was inflexible. In every treaty this,
he said, must be the first and last stipulation. The
only concession he could be induced to grant was,
that two years were allowed to the inhabitants of
everv place either to change their rehgion or sell
their possessions and quit the Spanish territory.

How completely was the aspect of things altered !
At one time Philip II. had doubted whether he should
grant the Jesuits fixed settlements in tlie Nether-
lands ; and even since then, they had often been
threatened, attacked and driven out. In conse-
quence of the events of this war they now returned
with every manifestation of the favour of the go-
vernment. The Farnesi were moreover peculiar
patrons of the society ; Alessandro chose a Jesuit
as his confessor ; he saw in their order the most
efficacious means of bringing back to Catholicism
the half-pro testant country he had conquered, and
of fulfiUing the main object of the war*. The first

* Sacchinus : " Alexandro et privati ejus consilii viris ea sta-
bat sententia, ut quseque recipiebatur ex haereticis civitas, con-
tinuo fere in earn immitti societatem debere : valere id turn ad
pietatem privatam civium turn ad pacem tranquillitatemque in-
telligebant." (Pars v. lib. iv. n. 58.) According to the Imago
primi seculi, this was also the will of the king, " qui recens datis
de hoc argumento literis ducem cum cura monuerat, ut socie-
tatis prsesidio munire satageret prsecipuas quasque Belgii civi-
tates;" — statements which are sufficiently warranted by the facts.


place to which they returned was that which had
first been conquered, Courtray. The parish priest
of the town, Jean David, had become acquainted
with the Jesuits during his exile at Douay ; on his
return to Courtray, he immediately entered their
order, and in his farewell discourse to his parishion-
ers exhorted them not to allow themselves to be any
longer deprived of the spiritual aid of that society;
his exhortations were readily obeyed. Shortly after,
the veteran Giovanni Montagna, who had first in-
troduced the company into Tournay, whence he had
frequently been obliged to fiy, came back to that
town and estabUshed it there for ever. As soon as
Bruges and Ypres had conformed to the required
change, the Jesuits made their entry there also, and
certain convents which had been deserted during
the troubles were readily granted to them by the
king. In Ghent, the house of the great demagogue
Imbize, the author of so much mischief to Catholi-
cism, was fitted up for the reception of the company.
At the surrender of Antwerp, the inhabitants en-
deavoured to stipulate that only those orders should
be re-admitted into the city which had existed there
in the time of Charles V. ;«^but this was not con-
ceded to them ; they were compelled to receive the
Jesuits again, and to restore the buildings which that
society had formerly possessed. x\ll these facts are
related by the historian of the order with great
complacency ; he remarks as a proof of the pecu-
liar favour of Heaven, that they recovered free
from debt, that which they^iad left burthened with
debt. Property which had, in the meanwhile,



passed through two or three different hands, was
now restored to them without demur or inquiry.
Brussels could not escape the general fate ; the town-
council declared itself ready to receive them ; the
prince of Parma granted aid from the royal treasury,
and in a short time the Jesuits were established on a
secure and advantageous footing. The prince had
already solemnly granted them a right to hold land
and houses under ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and to
make use of the privileges conferred on them by the
apostolic see in these provinces.

The Jesuits were not the only religious order which
enjoyed his protection. In the year 1585 a few ca-
puchins arrived in his dominions, and, by a spe-
cial letter to the pope, he obtained leave for them
to remain there ; he accordingly bought them a
house in Antwerp. They produced a great im-
pression even on the religious fraternities, and it
was necessary for the pope to restrain the other
franciscan orders by express command, from adopt-
ing the reformed rule of the capuchins.

All these circumstances gradually produced an
immense effect, and transformed Belgium, which
had been half protesta^t, into one of the most ca-
tholic countries of the world. Nor can it be denied
that, for a time at least, they mainly contributed
to the re-establishment of the royal authority.

In consequence of these results the opinion be-
came more and more firmly established, that only
one religion ought to be tolerated in a state. This
is one of the fundamental maxims of the policy of
Justus Lipsius. "«In matters of rehgion," says he,


" neither favour nor indulgence is admissible ;
the true mercy is to be merciless -, in order to save
many, a few must be gotten rid of without scru-
ple ;" — a maxim which in no country found more
acceptance than in Germany.


As the Netherlands still formed one of the circles
of the German empire, the events which occurred
in that country inevitably exercised a great influ-
ence on the affairs of Germany. One of the more
immediate results of them was, that the affairs of
Cologne were brought to an issue.

The Spaniards had not yet returned, far less had
Catholicism gained her great triumphs, whenTruch-
sess, the elector of Cologne, determined, in No-
vember 1582, to embrace the reformed religion
and to marry, though without resigning his arch-
bishoprick. The greater part of the nobility was
on his side ; the counts of Nuenar, Solms, Witt-
genstein, Wied, NassaUj and the whole duchy of
Westphalia, were all of them lutherans. With the
bible in one hand and the sword in the other, the
elector entered Bonn ; while Casimir of the Palati-
nate appeared in the field with a considerable body
of troops to reduce to obedience the city of Cologne,
the chapter, and the other ecclesiastical officers of
the archbishoprick which offered resistance to
Truchsess. »



We find this Casimir of the Palatinate engaged
in all the transactions of those times, always ready-
to mount his horse or to draw his sword, and
always having at his beck warlike bands incUned
to protestantism ; notwithstanding which he sel-
dom effected anything important for the cause he
espoused. He neither w^aged war with that devo-
tedness wdiich a religious contest demands (having
always his own private interests in view) , nor with
that energy and science which were brought to bear
against him. On this occasion he laid w^aste the
flat country of his opponents ; but in the main he
achieved little or nothing*. He made no conquests,
nor did he find means to obtain more ample assist-
ance from Protestant Germany.

On the other hand, the catholic powers united
all their strength. Pope Gregory did not abandon
the matter to the delays attending all the proceed-
ings of the curia ; he deemed a simple consistory
of the cardinals sufficient, considering the urgency
of the case, to decide so important a matter as the
stripping an elector of the empire of his ecclesias-
tical dignityf . The papal nuncio Malaspina had
already hastened to Cologne ; and had succeeded,
in concert with the learned members of the chapter,
not only in excluding all the moderate party from
that body, but also in placing upon the archiepi-
scopal throne a prince of the only remaining catho-
lic house of untainted orthodoxy, — duke Ernest of

* Issclt, Historia Belli Coloniensis, p. 1092 : "Totahac sestate
nihil hoc cxercitu digiium egit."

t Maffei, Aunali di Gregorio XIII., ii. xii. 8.


Bavaria, bishop of Freisingen*. A German catholic
army now appeared in the field, brought together
by the duke of Bavaria, with the aid of the pope's
subsidies. The emperor delayed not to threaten
the count palatine Casimir, with the ban and double-
ban of the empire, and sent admonitory letters to
his troops which eventually occasioned the disper-
sion of the army of the Palatinate.

It was at this point of time that the Spaniards
likewise made their appearance. In the summer
of 1 583 they had conquered Zutphen ; and three
thousand five hundred Belgian veterans now marched
into the electorate. Gebhard Truchsess was forced
to yield to such numerous enemies ; his troops would
not serve against an imperial mandate ; his prin-
cipal fortress surrendered to the Bavaro- Spanish
army, while he himself was compelled to seek refuge
with the prince of Orange, and to ask asylum from
him at whose side he had hoped to stand foremost
among the champions of the protestant cause.

It is easy to perceive how powerfully this event
must have contributed to the complete re-establish-
ment of Catholicism in that country. At the very
first outbreak of the troubles, the clergy of the
diocese had allowed the dissensions which existed
amongst themselves to subside. The nuncio re-
moved all suspected members, and a Jesuits' col-
lege was founded in the midst of the clash of arms ;
so that after victory was won, there was only to

* Letter of Malaspina to duke William of Bavaria in Adlz-
reitter, ii. xii. 295 : " Quod cupiebamus," he says, " impetra-


persevere in the course already adopted. Truchsess
had driven out the catholic clergy in Westphalia ;
they now returned, Uke the other refugees, and
were held in great honour *. The lutheran canons
w^ere expelled from the diocese, and, contrary to all
precedent, ceased to receive any portion of their in-
comes. The papal nuncios were, it is true, obliged
to use great discretion in their deportment even
towards the catholics ; and of this pope Sixtus was
so well aware, that he commanded his nuncio not to
set about the reforms which he thought necessary,
until he knew that all parties were wilhng to re-
ceive them. It was, however, this very prudence
and moderation which enabled them imperceptibly
to gain their end. The canons, how high soever
their birth, once more began to perform their cle-
rical duties in the cathedral. The council of Co-
logne, which was opposed by a protestant party in
the city, strenuously supported the catholic faith.

This great change could not fail to exercise a
powerful influence on all the other ecclesiastical
states ; but a particular accident which occurred in
the neighbourhood of Cologne materially contri-
buted to its operation. Henry of Saxe-Lauenburg,
bishop of Paderborn and Osnabrück, archbishop of
Bremen (who would, if he could, have followed
the example of Gebhard) went one Sunday in April
1 585, from his residence at Vcihrde to church, when
in riding back, his horse fell with him, and although

* " Elector Ernest," says Khevenhiller, " has constituted
anew, according to ancient customs, both the cathohc religion
and the temporal government."


he was young and healthy, and did not appear to
have received any serious injury, he died in the
course of that month. The elections which fol-
lowed were very favourable to Catholicism ; the new
bishop of Osnabrück, whatever might have been
his previous opinions, now subscribed the " profes-
sio fidei*," and Theodore of Fürstenberg, the new
bishop of Paderborn, was a most zealous catholic.
While yet a canon, he had opposed his predecessor,
and, in the year 1580, carried the statute, that in
future catholics only should be received into the
chapter!; he had already admitted a few Jesuits,
had allowed them to preach in the cathedral, and
to teach in the higher classes of the gymnasium ;
in the latter case, under the condition that they
were not to wear the dress of their order. It was,
of course, much easier for him as bishop, to afford
encouragement and assistance to the party they
represented ; they were no longer compelled to con-
ceal their presence ; the gymnasium was delivered
into their hands without any stipulation, and they
were allowed not only to preach, but to catechise.

* According to Strunck, Annales Paderbornenses, p. 514,
Bernard von Waldeck was at an earlier period inclined to pro-
testantism ; during the troubles at Cologne he remained neuter
and now acknowledged to the catholic faith. Chytraeus (Saxo-
nia, 812) does not contradict him.

f Bessen, Geschichte von Paderborn, ii. 123. In ReifFen-
berg, Historia Provincise ad Rhenum Inferiorem, lib viii. c. i.-p.
185, we find a letter from pope Gregory XIII. " dilectis filiis
canonicis et capitulo ecclesife Paderbornensis," 6 Feb. 1584, in
which he praises this spirit of opposition : " It is right it should
be thus : the more you are attacked, the stronger must be your
resistance : the pope himself bears in his heart the fathers of the
society of Jesus."


They found ample occupation. The town-council
was thoroughly protestant, and there was scarcely
a catholic to be found among the citizens ; nor was
the case very different among the peasantry. The
Jesuits compared Paderborn to a sterile field, which
required extraordinary labour and yet produced no
fruit. Nevertheless, as we shall hereafter perceive,
in the beginning of the seventeenth century they
had completely subdued this stubborn soil to their

The death of Henry of Saxe-Lauenburg was an
important event to Münster also. As the younger
members of the chapter supported, and the elder
opposed him, it had hitherto been impossible to
carry any election ; now, however, duke Ernest of
Bavaria, elector of Cologne and bishop of Liege,
w^as elected bishop of Münster; principally through
the exertions of the most determined catholic of
the chapter, the dean Raesfeld, who, just before his
death, made a will bequeathing 12,000 reichs-tha-
lers for the establishment of a Jesuit's college in
Münster. In the year 1587 the first Jesuits arrived.
They found enemies in the canons, the protestant
ministers, and the citizens ; but were sujDported
by the council and the prince. Their schools
soon began to evince their extraordinary merits,
and in the third year they could reckon a thousand
scholars. Even so early as the year 1590, they
were rendered completely independent by a volun-
tary grant of church property made to them by the

* Sacchinus, pars. v. lib. viii. n. 83 — 91. Rciffenberg, Histo-
ria Provincisc ad llhcnum Inferiorem, i. ix. vi.


Elector Ernest also possessed the bishoprick of
Hildesheim, and although his power there was
much more limited than in Münster, he contributed
greatly to the introduction of the Jesuits. The first
Jesuit who came to Hildesheim was John Hammer,
a native of that city, educated in the lutheran faith
by his father, who was still living, but filled with
all the zeal of a proselyte. His preaching was re-
markably perspicuous and intelligible, and he made
some brilliant conversions : by degrees he gained
firm footing, and in the year 1590 the Jesuits ac-
quired a dwelling and a pension in Hildesheim.

We perceive how important the Catholicism of
the house of Bavaria was, even as affecting North-
ern Germany, where a Bavarian prince appears in
so many dioceses at once as the main prop of the
catholic party.

Yet we must not imagine that this prince was
very zealous or very devout in his own person. He
had natural children, and it had been thought at
one time that he would act in the same manner as
Gebhard Truchsess had done. It is extremely in-
teresting and curious to observe with what caution
and delicacy pope Sixtus treated him. He most
carefully avoided showing him that he was aware
of his irregularities, perfectly as he was acquainted
with them ; for then exhortations and remonstran-
ces would have been necessary, which might very
probably have driven the headstrong prince to some
determination little agreeable to the court of Rome*.

The affairs of Germany were not to be* managed

* Tempesti, Vita di Sisto V., torn. i. p. 354.


in tlic same manner as those of the Netherlands
had been ; they demanded the most skilful and
delicate regard to personal interests and personal

Although duke William of Cleves outwardly con-
formed to the catholic confession, his policy was
on the whole protestant ; he willingly afforded re-
fuge and protection to protestant exiles, and did not
permit his son John William, who was a zealous
catholic, to take any share in public affairs. There
were not wanting those in Rome who might easily
have been tempted to show their disapprobation
and resentment at his proceedings, and to encou-
rage any opposition raised by his son ; but Sixtus V.
was far too prudent to sanction such a course. It
was not until the prince pressed for an interview so
earnestly that it was impossible to decline it any
longer without offence, that the nuncio held a con-
ference wäth him at Düsseldorf, and even then he
exhorted him in the strongest manner to patience.
The pope would not allow him to be invested with
the order of the Golden Fleece, lest it should awaken
suspicion. Nor did he intercede directly with the
father in favour of his son, since he tliought that
any connexion of the latter with Rome would dis-
please the duke; but endeavoured to procure for the
prince a position befitting his birth, by means of an
application which he induced the emperor to make
in his behalf. He admonished the nuncio to act
concerning some things as if he did not perceive
them. This considerate forbearance on the part of
an authority which was still recognised, did not fail
to produce its usual effect. The nuncio gradually


acquired influence, and when the protestants at the
diet asked for certain concessions, it was chiefly
through his representations that they were re-

In a great portion of Northern Germany, Catho-
licism was thus, if not instantly re-established, yet
in the hour of imminent peril was upheld, con-
firmed, and fortified; it obtained a degree of su-
periority which time might mature into complete

In a great part of Southern Germany, events
immxcdiately took a similar course.

We touched upon the state of the Franconian
bishopricks. It might easily have entered into the
imagination of a resolute bishop to avail himself of
it for the establishment of an hereditary power.

It was probably this state of things that induced
Julius Echter of Mespelbronn, who, in the year

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 39)