Leopold von Ranke.

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

. (page 9 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 9 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

1573, while still in the flower of youth, and of an
enterprising disposition, had been created bishop of
Würzburg, to hesitate some time what line of policy
to adopt. He took an active part in the expulsion
of the abbot of Fulda ; yet it could not have
been any very decided leaning to Catholicism which
brought the chapter and the states of Fulda into
connexion with him, since the re-establishment of
Catholicism was the principal grievance they had to
allege against their abbot. It was on this account
too that the bishop fell into a misunderstanding
with Rome ; Gregory XIII. having enjoined him to
restore Fulda, just at the moment when Truchsess
proclaimed his revolt. In this emergency, bishop

* Tempesti, Vita di Sisto V,, torn. i. p. 359.


Julius actually prepared to address himself to Sax-
ony, and to call in the aid of the leader of the
lutherans against the pope. He was intimately
connected with Truchsess, who at all events enter-
tained hopes that the bishop of Würzburg would
follow his example, — as the minister of Lauenburg,
archbishop of Bremen, announces with great satis-
faction to his master*.

Under these circumstances, it would be difficult
to decide what bishop Julius would have done, had
Truchsess been able to keep his ground at Cologne ;
as however he so completely failed, Julius not only
abandoned all thought of following his example,
but determined to pursue a totally different line of

Are we to presume that his only object had been
the acquisition of absolute power in his own domi-
nions ? or did he really entertain in his heart strict
catholic convictions ? At all events, he was a pupil
of the Jesuits, and educated at the Collegium Roma-
num. Whatever was the cause, in the year 1.584
he undertook a visitation of the churches in a
highly catholic spirit, and hitherto unparalleled in

* Letter of Hermann von der Decken (for Becken mupt be a
false reading), dated 6 Dec. 1582, in Schmidt-Phiseldeck,
Historischen Miscellaneen, i. 25. " Upon the statements and
solicitations of the legate, the bishop of Wiirzburg begged time
for a little consideration, immediately ordered his horses and
suite to be in readiness, and determined to mount and ride over
to the elector of Saxonj^ and complain to his grace of such un-
heard-of importunity on the part of*the pope, and apply for
council, aid, and consolation His grace (the elector of Co-
logne) had great hopes of the reverend lords bishops, that their
princely graces would declare against the pope."


Germany ; and he carried this through in person
with all the energy of a most resolute will.

He travelled through his whole territory accom-
panied by certain Jesuits, going first to Gmünden,
then to Arnstein, Werneck, and Hassfurt, and so
on from circle to circle. In every town he sum-
moned to his presence the burghermaster and the
town council, and told them of his determination
to root out the errors of protestantism. The pas-
tors were sent away and their j^laces filled with the
pupils of the Jesuits. Any official j^erson who re-
fused to attend catholic worship was dismissed
without mercy, and the vacant office instantly filled
by one of the catholic faith. Even private per-
sons were all required to attend the catholic ser-
vice, and had only to choose between the mass or
exile ; he to whom the religion of his prince was an
abomination ought, it was said, to have no share or
interest in his country*. In vain did the neigh-
bouring princes remonstrate against these measures.
Bishop Julius used to say, that it was not what he
did that caused him any scruples of conscience, but
that he had begun to do it so late. He received the
most active and zealous support from the Jesuits,
among whom Father Gerhard Weiler was especially
conspicuous, by going alone and on foot, without

* Biography of bishop Julius in Gropp's Chronicle of Würz-
burg, p. 335 : " they were told to give up their offices and em-
ployments and to seek their livelihood out of the diocese."
I have already made use of this biography, and in particular,
along with it, Christophori Mariani Augustani Encaenia et Tri-
cennalia Juliana in Gropp's Scriptt. Wirceb. torn. i.


even a change of raiment, from place to place preach-
ing. In the single year of 158Ö, fourteen cities and
market-towns and above two hundred villages, con-
taining in all 62,000 souls, were brought back to
the catholic faith. The capital of the diocese was
the only town which still adhered to protestantism,
and in March, 1587, the bishop undertook its con-
version. He summoned the town-council before
him, and apj^ointed for each quarter and parish a
commission, which was to examine each citizen
separately. Here too it was discovered that one
half cherished protestant opinions ; the faith of
many however was feeble and wavering, and soon
yielded to persuasion or menace ; and the solemn
communion which the bishop himself celebrated in
the cathedral at Easter was numerously attended.
Others held out longer, and a few chose rather to
sell their property and go into exile ; among the
latter were four members of the council.

This was an example which the bishop of Bam-
berg, the nearest ecclesiastical neighbour of Würz-
burg, felt himself especially called upon to follow.
There is a hill called Gösweinstein, rising above
the valley of Muggendorf, to the summit of which
pilgrims may, to this day, be seen wending their way
from all the surrounding valleys, by steep and soli-
tary paths, through magnificent woods and roman-
tic precipices. Here was an ancient sanctuary,
sacred to the Holy Trinity ; but at the time we are
speaking of, it was neglected and deserted. When
Ernest von Mengersdorf, bishop of Bamberg, hap-
pened in the year 1587 to visit this spot, he was


greatly shocked at its condition. Inflamed by the
example of his neighbour, he declared that he also
would " bring back his subjects to the true catholic
faith ; no dangers should prevent him from per-
forming this his duty." We shall see how earnestly
his successor followed the course he marked out.

But whilst in Bamberg things were only in pre-
paration, in Würzburg bishop Julius effected a
complete change in the religious character of his
dominions. All old ordinances and ceremonies
were revived ; devotional exercises in honour of
the Mother of God, pilgrimages, brotherhoods of
the assumption of the Virgin and of her birth, and
various others were restored, and new ones founded.
Processions filled the streets. Throughout the whole
country, the sound of the church bells recalled the
hour of the Ave Maria*. Relics were again col-
lected and deposited with great pomp in their ap-
pointed shrines. The convents were filled again,
and churches built in aJl directions ; bishop Julius
is said to have laid the foundations of three hundred ;
the traveller may still distinguish them by their
lofty spires. Men observed with astonishment the
change which a few years had wrought. A panegy-
rist of the bishop thus expresses himself: " What
was formerly esteemed superstitious and even con-
temptible, is now held sacred ; what was lately re-

* Julii episcopi statuta ruralia, Gropp, Scriptt., torn. i. His
meaning is, that the religious movement which proceeds from
the supreme head of the church of Christ, communicates itself
downwards to every member of the body. Vide p. 444, de ca-
pitulis ruralibus.


vered as a gospel, is now declared to be only de-

Even at Rome such signal success had not been
anticipated. The enterprise of bishop Julius had
already been some time in progress before pope
Sixtus heard anything of it. After the autumn ho-
lidays in 1586, Aquaviva, the general of the Je-
suits, appeared before him and informed him of
the new conquests achieved by his order ; Sixtus
was delighted, and hastened to testify his approba-
tion and gratitude to the bishop. He granted him
the right of filling the benefices which had fallen
vacant in the reserved months, adding, that he
would best know whom to reward.

But the pleasure which the pope received from
Aquaviva's report was enhanced by the arrival of
similar intelligence from the Austrian provinces,
particularly from Styria.

In the year in which the protestant estates of
Styria acquired such a degree of independence,
through the decrees of the diet of Brück, that
they might almost compare their position with that
of the estates of Austria, and like them possessed
their own council for religious matters, their own
superintendents and synods, and a nearly repub-
lican constitution, — in that very year a change

Scarcely had Rudolf II. received the homage of
his subjects, when it was remarked how completely
he differed from his father : he performed the acts


of devotion in their utmost strictness ; men saw
him with astonishment attend the processions, even
in the hardest winter, bare-headed and carrying a
torch in his hand.

This temper of the prince, and the favour which
he showed to the Jesuits, soon caused great anxiety,
and in accordance with the character of the times,
excited a violent counter-movement. In the Land-
haus at Vienna, which, as the protestants had not
been allowed to have a regular church in the capi-
tal, was used for their worship, Joshua Opitz, a
disciple of Flaccius, preached with all that vehe-
mence which characterized his sect. He thunder-
ed out continual invectives against Jesuits, priests,
and " all the abominations of popery," which
produced not only conviction in his hearers, but
exasperation ; so that, as one of his cotempora-
ries says, " when they came out of their church,
they were ready to tear the papists to pieces with
their own hands*." The consequence was, that
the emperor determined to prohibit their meet-
ings at the Landhaus. While the arguments for
and against this measure were discussed with pas-
sionate warmth, and the nobility to whom the
Landhaus belonged gave vent to threatening ex-
pressions, the feast of Corpus Christi of the year
1578 arrived. The emperor was determined to
celebrate this festival in the most solemn man-
ner. After he had heard mass in St. Stephen's

* D^'. George Eder, who was indeed an adversary : extract
from his Warnungsschrift in Raupach, Evangel. Oestreich, ii,



church, the procession, the first which had been
seen for a long time, began. The host was ac-
companied through the streets by priests, brethren
of religious orders, and guilds ; in the midst were
the emperor and the princes. But it was soon
evident that the town was in a state of extraor-
dinary ferment. When the procession reached
the peasants' market, it was found necessary to
take away a few stalls to make room for it to pass.
Nothing more was required to produce a general
tumult ; the cry of " To arms ! we are betrayed ! "
was heard on all sides. The choristers and priests
abandoned the host ; the halberdiers and guards
fled in all directions ; the emperor found himself
in the midst of an infuriated multitude, and fearing
an attack upon his person, laid his hand upon his
sword, wMe the princes drew theirs and closed
round their monarch to defend him from the mob*.
It will be easily imagined what an impression this
incident made upon a prince of such gravity, and
one so attached to Spanish dignity and stateliness.
The papal nuncio seized on the occasion to repre-
sent to him the dangers with which he was menaced
by such a state of things ; he averred that God
himself showed him in this tumult how requisite it
was for him to fulfil the promises he had previously
made to the pope : in these representations he was
supported by the Spanish minister. The Jesuit
provincial, Magius, had frequently urged the em-

* Maffei, Annall di Gregorio XIII., torn. i. p. 281, 335, ;
without doubt written from the accounts of the nuncio.


peror to take decisive measures ; he now obtained
a hearing. On the 21st of June, 1578, the empe-
ror issued an order to Opitz and his assistants,
both in church and school, to leave the city that
very day, " while the sun shone ;" and, within four-
teen days, the hereditary dominions of Austria.
The emperor, fearing a popular commotion, kept
under arms a body of trustworthy men, ready to
act in case of necessity. But how were the people
to resist a prince who had the strict letter of the
law on his side ? they could only accompany the
exiles on their way with every demonstration of
sorrow and sympathy*.

From this day a catholic reaction commenced
in Austria, which every year acquired fresh strength
and activity.

The plan was, to expel protestantism in the first
|}lace from the imperial cities. The towns on the
east of the Enns, which twenty years before had
separated themselves from the estates of the nobles
and knights, could make no resistance. The luther-
an clergy were banished to various places ; catho-
lics were appointed in their stead, and even private
individuals were subjected to a strict examination.
We are in possession of a formula according to
which the suspected were questioned : " Dost thou
believe," says one article, " that all is true which
is laid down for the government of life and doctrine

* Sacchinus, pars iv. lib. vi. n. 78 :. " Pudet referre, quam
exeuntes sacrilegos omnique execratione dignissimos prosecuta
sit numerosa multitudo quotque benevolentiae documentis, ut
vel inde mali gravitas eestimari possit."



by the church of Rome ?" " Dost thou beUeve,"
says another, " that the pope is the head of the
sole apostolic church?" Not a doubt was tole-
rated*. The protestants were removed from all
civic offices, and no one admitted to the privileges
of a citizen who was not a catholic. Every candi-
date for a doctor's degree at the university of Vi-
enna was compelled first to subscribe the " professio
fidei." A new ordinance for the schools prescribed
catholic formularies, fasts, visits to churches, and
the exclusive use of the catechism of Canisius. In
Vienna all protestant books were taken away from
the booksellers' shops and stalls, and were carried
in great heaps to the bishop's court ; all boxes
arriving at the custom-houses were searched, and
books or pictures which w^ere not strictly catholic
were seized f.

But all these acts of the government had not
yet accomplished their end. In a short time, in-
deed, thirteen cities and market-towns were re-
stored to Catholicism in Lower Austria, and the
catholics had regained possession of the crown
lands and mortgaged property. But the nobles
still made a powerful resistance, and the towns on
the west of the Enns were in strict alliance with
them, and were too formidable to be attacked J.

Nevertheless, many of these measures had, as

* Pajjiil, Austrian, and Bavarian articles of confession of faith
in Raupach, Evang. Oestreich, ii. 307.

|- Klievenliiller, Ferd. Jahrb., i. 90. Hansitz, Germania Sacra,
i. 632.

I Raiipacli, Kleine Nachlese Ev. Oestr., iv. p. 17.


may be imagined, an influence and efficacy from
which none could escape ; in Styria, for example,
they produced an immediate return to old opinions.

At the very time the catholic reaction was
advancing in so many places, the archduke Charles
had been forced to make concessions in that
province, and these his family could not forgive
him. His brother-in-law, duke Albert of Ba-
varia, represented to him that the terms of the
peace of Augsburg authorized him to compel his
subjects to embrace the religion which he himself
professed. He recommended to the archduke
three measures : — first, to fill all the offices, parti-
cularly at court and in the privy council, exclu-
sively with catholics ; secondly, to separate the
difierent estates at the diet, by which means he
might deal better with each singly ; and thirdly, to
-€ome to a good understanding with the pope, and
to request him to send a nuncio to his court. Gre-
gory Xni. voluntarily offered his assistance ; and
knowing that it was chiefly want of money which
had forced the archduke to make concessions to the
protestants, he took the best means of rendering
him more independent of his subjects, by sending
him pecuniary aid. In the year 1580 he sent him
40,0005C., at that time a very considerable sum,
and deposited a still larger fund at Venice, to which
the archduke was to have recourse in case his
efforts for the restoration of Catholicism should
produce disturbances in his country.

Thus encouraged by example, exhortation, and
substantial assistance, the archduke Charles from


the year 1580, took up a position totally different
from that which he had previously occupied.

In this year he published an explanation of his
former concessions, which may be considered as a
revocation of them. The estates addressed a hum-
ble petition to him, and for a moment the urgency
of their prayer appeared to have some effect* ; but
on the whole he remained firm to the measures he
had announced, and the expulsion of the protestant
ministers commenced in Austria likewise.

The year 1584 was pregnant wdth events. The
papal nuncio Malaspina made his appearance in the
diet of this year. He had already succeeded in de-
taching the prelates from the secular estates, with
which they had always sided : he now^ established
between them, the duke's ministers and all the ca-
tholics in the province, a strict union of which he
himself was the centre. Hitherto the whole coun-
try had appeared to be protestant ; but the nuncio
contrived to form a strong party around the prince,
w^hose position thus became impregnable. He de-
clared it to be his fixed determination to root out
protestantism from his dominions ; the treaty of
Augsburg, he said, gave him far greater powers
than he had yet employed, even over the nobles,
and any further opposition would but compel him
to exercise them ; he should then see who w^ould
show himself a rebel.

* " According to the natural, benignant, and paternal disposi-
tion of a German prince," ("seinem angeborenen, mildreichen
landsfürstlichen deutschen Gcmüth nach,") says the supplica-
tion of the three states.


Peremptory as these declarations were, they were
not less successful than his former concessions ;
the estates granted all his demands*.

From this time the counter-reformation began
throughout all the archducal territory. The church-
livings and the seats in the town-councils were filled
with catholics ; no citizen dared to attend any but
the catholic church, or to send his children to any
but the catholic schools.

These changes were not always carried into effect
peaceably. The catholic clergy and the archduke's
commissioners were occasionally insulted and driven
away. The archduke himself was once in danger
during a hunting party, in consequence of a report
in the district that a neighbouring preacher had
been seized ; the people assembled in arms, and
the poor persecuted lutheran was himself obliged to
-step forward to protect his merciless master from
the enraged peasantry f. Notwithstanding these
displays of popular feeling however, the catholic
movement went on. The harshest measures were
applied ; they are described in few words by one of
the papal historians ; — confiscation, exile, and se-
vere punishment of all the refractory. The spi-
ritual princes who possessed any property in those
districts gave their assistance to the temporal

* Valvassor, Ehre des Herzogthums Krain, contains good
and detailed information on all these matters. But MafFei's ac-
count is especially important in the Annali di Gregorio XIII.,
lib. ix. c. XX., lib. xiii. c. i. He had without doubt the report
of the nuncio before him.

t Khevenhiller, Annales Ferdinande! IL, p. 523,


authorities. The archbishop of Cologne, bishop of
Freisingen, changed the council of his town of
Lack, and sentenced the protestant citizens to im-
prisonment or fine ; the bishop of Brixen resolved
on making a new division of the land in his lord-
ship of Veldes. This spirit extended to all the
Austrian provinces. Although the Tyrol had re-
mained true to Catholicism, the archduke Ferdinand
did not neglect to enforce the strict subordination
of the clergy of Inspruck, and the regular attend-
ance of all classes at the communion. Sunday-
schools were established for the people ; cardinal
Andreas, the son of Ferdinand, caused catechisms to
be printed and distributed among the school-chil-
dren and the uneducated classes* ; but in districts
where there was any tincture of protestantism, the
archduke was not satisfied with proceedings of so
mild a character. In the margravate of Burgau, al-
though but recently acquired, and in the bailiwick
of Swabia, although his jurisdiction there was dis-
puted, he proceeded in exactly the same manner
as the archduke Charles in Styria.

The admiration w^hich pope Sixtus expressed at
these measures was boundless and inexhaustible.
He extolled the Austrian princes as the firmest pil-
lars of the Christian faith, and sent the most aftec-
tionate letters to the archduke Charles more espe-
cially f. The acquisition of a countship wiiicli
then fell vacant, was regarded by the court of

* Puteo in Tempcsti, Vita di Sisto V., torn. i. 375.
t Extract from the briefs, in Tempesti, i. 203.


Grätz as a recompense for all the service it had
rendered to Cliristendom.

Though in the Netherlands the catholic faith
took firm root chiefly by accommodating itself to
popular privileges, this was not the case in Ger-
many, where the several sovereigns increased their
greatness and extended their power, in proportion as
they favoured the restoration of the catholic church.
Wolf Dietrich von Raittenau, archbishop of Salz-
burg, affords the most remarkable example of this
intimate union of ecclesiastical and political power,
and of the lengths to which it was carried.

The former archbishops, cotemporaries of the
reformation and eye-witnesses of all its agitations,
contented themselves with occasionally issuing an
edict against innovations, threatening the inflic-
tion of a punishment, or making an attempt at a
conversion ; but only, as archbishop Jacob says,
" by gentle, paternal, and upright means." On the
whole, they suff'ered matters to take their course*.

But the young archbishop Wolf Dietrich von
Raittenau brought with him totally different im-
pressions, views, and projects on his accession to
the see of Salzburg. He had been educated in the
German college at Rome, and had imbibed the

* A more severe edict was issued, it is true, in the name of
Jacob, but not till after he had been obliged to abandon the ad-
ministration to a coadjutor.


ideas of the restoration of the catholic church in
all their force and freshness. He had witnessed
with admiration the briUiant commencement of the
reign of Sixtus V. ; and the promotion of his uncle,
cardinal Altemps, in whose house he had heen
brought up in Rome, to the purple, scrv^ed to
quicken his zeal and exalt his enthusiasm. In the
year 1588, at the termination of a journey which
had carried him back to Rome, he began the work
of conversion by requiring the citizens of his capi-
tal to subscribe the catholic faith. Many testified
reluctance ; to these he granted a few weeks for
deliberation, after which, on the 3rd of Septem-
ber, 1588, he ordered them to quit the town and
the diocese within one month. Only this month
(and, after urgent prayers, a second month) was
conceded, to enable them to dispose of their pro-
perty, of which they were required to give in an
inventory to the archbishop, and were then only
allowed to sell it to such persons as were agreeable
to him*. But few abandoned their faith, and
these were obliged to do penance publicly in the
churches, with burning tapers in their hands ; by
far the greater number, even of the more opulent
citizens, accepted the alternative of banishment.
The loss of them caused the prince no anxiety, for
he thought he had discovered means by which
to sustain the lustre of his see. He had already
arbitrarily raised the taxes, increased the duties of

Online LibraryLeopold von RankeThe ecclesiastical and political history of the popes of Rome during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Volume 2) → online text (page 9 of 39)