James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

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During this period his consort Elizabeth
was crowned empress. He found many
fresh complications on his way back,
especially with the Milanese, who had
broken the peace. He had also forfeited






the friendship of Urban long before he
reappeared in Germany in August, 1369.
For the Pope did not find in Rome what
he wished, and in 1370 returned once more
to Avignon, where he died in December
of that year. His successor was Gregory
XL, nephew of Clement VI., a learned
man, who was regarded as an especial
friend of Charles. The good
understanding between Charles
and the princes had termi-
nated even before the expedi-
tion to Rome. His matrimonial policy
made it only too clear how he hoped to
enrich his family. In any case the rival
princely families saw their hopes deceived.
There could be no doubt now that Charles's
fervent wish would be to secure the royal
crown for his son Wenceslaus, or Wenzel,
who was betrothed to the Hungarian
princess Elizabeth -a splendid prospect,
which would have raised the Luxemburgs
high above all other princely houses.

Charles, on his return home from Italy,
saw himself confronted by a confederacy
to which the Count Palatine Rupert, the
Bavarian Wittelsbachs, Poland, and Hun-
gary belonged. From this a danger
threatened him in the east of his dominions,
especially because the march of Branden-
burg, which was pawned to him, no longer
afforded any real support. Fortunately
for him, Casimir of Poland, whose realm
was now united with Hungary, died at
this time ; so, too, did Gerlach of Mainz,
and the emperor succeeded through papal
favour in elevating to the important
episcopal throne one of his relations,
the bishop of Strassburg, a man of no
independence of character.

Now, however, a new quarrel about the
march of Brandenburg broke out. At the
beginning of the year 1371 Otto declared
his nephew Frederic to be his heir in
the march, and thus prejudiced Charles's
claims to inherit. War, therefore, began.
On the side of the Wittelsbachs Pilgrim of
Kin Salzburg and Lewis of Hungary

* for f u g ht together against their
*" mconven i en t neighbour. But
nothing came of it except
plundering and devastation. An armistice
was concluded in October, 1371, at
Pirna ; and shortly afterwards the king
of Hungary, engrossed with the coming war
against Venice, withdrew from the alliance.
At the same time Charles's second son,
Sigismund, was betrothed to Lewis's
daughter. The Wittelsbachs now stood

alone. Soon after the expiry of the armis-
tice, in the summer of 1373, an agreement
was entered into at Fiirstenwalde, by which
Otto and Frederic renounced all claim
to the march, and received from Charles
in all the very considerable sum of 500,000
golden florins. The imperial cities must,
indeed, have made gigantic efforts in
order to raise this money.

Although Charles had not yet reached
his sixtieth year, he now thought earnestly
of the future of his empire and his
dynasty. His fondest wish, that of seeing
his eldest son Wenzel elected German
emperor, was still to be realised, but
could be so only if the adroit father took
the appropriate steps during his own
lifetime. Moreover, the opportunity was
now presented, when for the first time an
election could be carried out strictly
according to the provisions of the Golden
Bull. It was, indeed, a costly task to win
over the three spiritual electors. But by
October, 1374, the vote of Rupert, the
count palatine, was secured, and at the
beginning of the year 1375 Charles had
all the votes for himself, for this time the

election of the emperor was to
The Vain , SM

T f be unanimous. I he actual

krea s o e ]^ ect j ve proceedings had to be
the Pope ,., ?,,

postponed until Wenzel had

completed his fifteenth year, and thus
attained his majority.

When Pope Gregory heard of the
intended election, he was astounded,
but could not by all his threats produce
any alteration in the adopted pro-
posal. Without the papal sanction the
election of Wenzel was settled on June
ist, 1376, and was solemnly confirmed
on June loth, in the sacristy of
St. Bartholomew's, at Frankfort. The
coronation followed on July 6th, at Aix-
la-Chapelle. Pope Gregory refused his
consent, but was finally satisfied when
the emperor, in a document dated back
before the election, asked for his approval.

Wenzel was now lawful emperor,
together with his father. But the im-
perial cities of the south had a dread of
new mortgages naturally enough after
their experiences so far for Wenzel's
election cost much money. Fourteen
imperial cities of Swabia formed a league
even before the coronation against " all
who oppressed them with taxation or
mortgage." The town of Dim took the
lead. Charles advanced with an army
up to its walls, but could effect nothing,


and marched back again. Other towns
joined in the league. Count Ulrich of
Wiirtemberg was killed at Reutlingen in
I 373- Soon afterwards Wenzel, who
meanwhile had become vice-regent of the
empire, was compelled to promise the cities,
in the Peace of Rotenburg, that he would
not pawn them.

The emperor had meanwhile journeyed
to the court of King Charles V. at Paris,
and had prevented the threatening alliance
of the king's second son, Louis of Orleans,
with Mary of Hungary, but was forced in
return to confer on the dauphin the
vicariate of the empire over Burgundy.

devastations this fault had many

The policy of the young Emperor
Wenzel showed itself in his first public
act when he declared himself a supporter
of Pope Urban VI. The princes supported
him ; so did Lewis of Hungary. Only
Adolphus of Nassau, who was still at
enmity with Lewis of Meissen about the
archbishopric of Mainz, declared himself
the friend of the Pope of Avignon,
Clement VII. The unity of Germany was
thus destroyed, and Clement soon found
other friends as well. But the other
electors on the Rhine, namely, Cologne,

The Brothers of the Cross, or Flag-fillants, appeared towards the end of the summer of 1349 in the Netherland towns,
especially Doornik, and in the market-place did penance by scourging- their bodies in order to free the world from the
plague of the Black Death, or pestilence. As shown in the illustration, the Brothers marched barefoot ; their bared
backs were covered merely by a short cloak, while they held in their hands the scourges, the marks of which were to be
seen on their backs. Their headgear was the hat with the cross, and thus they got their name, Brothers of the Cross.

From the Chronicle of yEgidus Li Musis in the Library at Brussels

and thus to renounce the imperial
sovereignty in this district. Soon after his
return, Charles fell a victim to fever at
Prague, on November 2Qth, 1378. His
reign marks a turning point in German
history. He was the founder of the
Luxemburg dynasty, and through skilful
diplomacy left the empire in a more
dignified constitutional position than he
had found it. His reputation among his
German contemporaries, and in later
times, has suffered chiefly from the fact
that he regarded every political step as a
financial operation, and in an unknightly
fashion avoided the fierce contest of the
battlefield. But in the age of wars and

Treves, and the Palatinate, could not
countenance the dissension about Mainz,
and at the beginning of 1380 concluded
a league at Oberwesel against all adherents
of Pope Clement. By this, of course,
Adolphus was primarily intended. The
latter, when the archbishopric of Mainz
was assured him, while Lewis was com-
pensated with Magdeburg, returned to
Urban. The electors had attained their
object without the help of the emperor,
and they suspected his policy, since he
appeared so little in the empire, and always
stayed in his hereditary dominions.
Indeed, the chief efforts of Wenzel
were directed toward the maintenance of



friendly relations with Hungary and
Austria. He therefore abandoned any
idea of armed conflict with Leopold of
Austria, who openly sided with the
Avignon Pope, although his partisanship
caused a miniature schism in the bishop-
rics of Strassburg, Basle, and Constance.
The espousal of Urban's cause by
Germany was mainly based
w W mg on tne opposition to France,
Princ'ess * althou g h Wenzel had main-
tained with the French royal
house the good relations which his father
had promoted. In devotion to the Roman
Pope, Germany agreed with England,
which hoped by means of papal support
to gain advantages in France. Wenzel
cemented the friendship with England by
giving his sister Anne in marriage to King
Richard II., and at the same time he
skilfully avoided any breach with France.
The favourable relations of the German
king to Urban had from the first made a
journey to Rome, in order to obtain the
imperial crown, appear as a desirable
object. There were, indeed, no difficulties
in the way, and both Pope and Emperor
would have derived from it an unmistak-
able accession of power. The journey over
the Alps had been planned for the spring of

1383, when dynastic policy put obstacles
in the way. There was a prospect of
gaining Luxemburg.

Lewis of Hungary had died in 1382.
In the last year of his life he had won
Naples, and thus enlarged the extent of
his authority. No one of his daughters
was yet married ; but Sigismund, as
prospective son-in-law, was already living
in Poland, a country unaccustomed to the
Hungarian rule, in order to gain friends
for himself there. Mary, Sigismund's
betrothed wife, was elected Queen of
Hungary ; but in Poland the people did
not wish for her at any rate, they wanted
another daughter of Lewis. In October,

1384, Hedwig, a girl of thirteen years of

The Girl a & 6 ' was actua ^Y crowned at
Queea Cracow, and the still pagan

of Poland Grand Duke Jagiello of Lithu-
ania became her husband. But
Sigismund succeeded, through his stubborn-
ness and skill, in procuring for himself the
crown of Hungary by the end of March,

Up to this, Wenzel had been variously
occupied, but his natural disposition
to inactivity became more and more
evident. His continued absence caused


dissatisfaction in the empire. His nearest
relatives, especially Jobst of Moravia,
intrigued against him in every way, and
in Bohemia, his own home, the lords
rose against his rule. The victim of the
supposed conspiracy was the Archbishop
of Prague, with his official and his
vicar-general, Nepomuk. The Bohemian
nobility now found a leader in Jobst, who
had quarrelled with his brother Prokop.

Jobst, in conjunction with Sigismund,
Albert of Austria, and the Margrave William
of Meissen, pursued a policy of hostility
against the king, and finally, in May, 1394,
brought Wenzel prisoner to Prague.
Since a movement was made in the em-
pire to liberate the king, he was set free
in August. Jobst, in his turn, was made
prisoner, but he also was released. War
raged in Bohemia, and Albert of Austria,
during the confusion, aspired to the
vicariate of the empire, in fact to the crown
itself. Fortunately, he died soon.

Wenzel and Sigismund concluded, in
March, 1396, a compact as to the suc-
cession. Sigismund became vicar of the
empire, and now aimed at the German

, crown. His position was not
Sigismund s mdeed favourable at the
Ambitions . ,,

. ~ moment. An army collected

in Germany r n ,-. j i_-

from all Europe under his com-
mand was defeated at Nicopolis by the
Sultan Bajazet II. Hungary also threat-
ened to be lost to him after Mary's
death. Jobst made peace with Wenzel
in 1397, and received from Sigismund's
former domains a compensation in- the
march of Brandenburg.

Wenzel still longed for formal in-
vestiture as emperor, and Boniface IX.,
Urban's successor, would gladly have
welcomed him to Rome. But his position
in Germany at the same time became more
and more precarious. He had never been
in the empire since 1387, and alliances of
the knights and the towns continually
disquieted the land. The cities especially
had cause to feel the evils entailed by
the absence of the sovereign, and, not-
withstanding all the appeals of the electors,
Wenzel kept away from the empire.

Fresh disorders had broken out owing to
the vacancy in the archdiocese of Mainz,
from which finally John of Nassau
emerged as archbishop. Before this the
palsgrave and the two other spiritual
electors had convened a diet at Frankfort
for May I3th, 1397. , This was an un-
precedented step ; but the indifference


of the emperor to his duty made such
a proceeding seem necessary. Wenzel
had, it is true, summoned an imperial
assembly at Nuremberg ; but when he
heard of the electoral diet he unwisely
abandoned his own. At Frankfort, with
the assent of numerous princes and towns,
a vicar of the empire was demanded from
Wenzel, and a regency of princes was
proposed in the event of his absence.
The question of the schism was also
discussed. Complaints as to the govern-
ment were sent to Wenzel. Great excite-
ment was caused at Prague by the
tidings of the proceedings in Frankfort ;
but nothing happened at the moment.

Wenzel did not appear in Nuremberg
before September, and by issuing a " Public
Peace " showed that he was in a posi-
tion to conduct the affairs of govern-
ment himself. During the course of pro-
ceedings at Frankfort the electors laid
before the emperor, at his own wish, further
complaints. The question of the Church
stood in the foreground, and, closely con-
nected with that, the policy towards
France. The opinion was growing that the
p settlement of the papal dispute

pes w would be most easily effected

" . by a "cession" that is to say,

Abdicate i J ., .. , i rv

by the resignation of both

Popes. Benedict XIII. was elected at Avig-
non, in 1394, on the express condition that
he would resign his title to secure unity.
The object of the French policy was now to
persuade the followers of the Roman Pope,
Boniface, to make him resign in turn. In
March, 1398, Wenzel met Charles VI. at
Rheims. The outcome of the meeting
was only an exhortation to both Popes
to abdicate, naturally without result.
Wenzel stood by Boniface. France itself
opposed Benedict ; even the cardinals
rebelled against him, and a long siege
of the papal fortress at Avignon began.

Wenzel, on his return from Rheims,
found the old disorders in Bohemia ; the
quarrel in the royal family still lasted.
This time he did not omit the appoint-
ment of an imperial administrator. But
the empire was not benefited at all by
this step. The electors of Mainz and
the Palatinate, who found the position
of affairs obviously most irksome, looked
for some remedy, and bound themselves
with the elector of Cologne at Boppard in
April, 1339, to a common policy in all
matters of Church and empire, with the
one exception of electing the king. On the

occasion of a meeting of the princes in
May, when a compact against the towns
was concluded, John, Archbishop of Mainz,
attached new members to the Rhenish
Confederation, which was clearly formed
against the sovereign.

Everywhere^, then, similar dissatisfac-
tion with Wenzel prevailed. The charges
... , brought against him were
* f neglect of the realm, especially

' through his long absence
His Duties , ir u

he himself by the nomina-
tion of Sigismund to the vicariate of
the empire had admitted his derelic-
tion of duty and waste of the crown
lands, with special reference to the loss
of Milan. In this latter case, it was
a question of sacrificing a posses-
sion which could no longer be held, just
as formerly under Charles IV. in the case
of the surrender of Aries. The alleged
reasons were very weak in so far that the
real feeling of all, namely, that the royal
power was being used exclusively for
the aggrandisement of the Luxemburg
dominions, remained actually unexpressed.
Interest in the empire may have influenced
many ; others certainly thought of ob-
taining the crown for themselves. But
all the princes considered that in any case
no great loss could be sustained by an

Wenzel naturally heard of these pro-
ceedings, and wished to come into the
empire and hold a diet ; but the electors
no longer assented to his proposal. On
the contrary, the thought was already
expressed in September, 1399, by many
princes, that a new king should be elected ;
clearly, however, no one wished an
elector to be king. Not until 1400 were
the electors of Saxony and the Palatinate
received at Frankfort among the candi-
dates. When Pope Boniface had been
informed of the proposed new election, a
meeting of the princes and towns was
summoned for the end of May at Frank-

fort, and many visitors put in

an appearance. An agreement
V had already been made as

to the person of the new
king, Rupert of the Palatinate, when
on June 4th, Wenzel, who on his part
had forbidden any resolutions as to
empire and Church to be passed during
his absence, was earnestly requested to
appear at Oberlahnstein on August nth ;
otherwise the electors would consider
themselves released from the oath which



B2e '

they had taken to him. Wenzel did
not come. On the day fixed the four
Rhenish electors appeared at Oberlahn-
stein ; Rupert's election was settled, and
he swore to serve the empire loyally.
His election was publicly announced
on August 2Oth, 1400, and was ratified
next day on the Konigsstuhl in Rhens.
The deposition of Wenzel,
although a benefit for the em-
P* re ' was not constitutionally
justified. The most weighty
of the accusations brought against him
was that he had alienated parts of the
imperial dominions, and had done so for
base lucre when he elevated Galeazzo
de Visconti to be Duke of Milan and Count
of Pavia. The new emperor had a wide
field of operations before him. Without
doubt, great expectations were entertained
of him, and at any rate he had the point
in his favour that he had not begun by
buying the votes of the electors by a
shameful traffic in crown lands.

Wenzel was infuriated at his deposition,
but did not venture on any action or
any defence of his rights by the sword.
On October 25th Rupert of the Palatinate
made his state entry into Frankfort as
German king. Other towns had already
joined his cause. Since Aix-la-Chapelle
did not open its gates, the coronation took
place at Cologne on Epiphany, 1401.

The crown was now acquired, but the
difficulty was to keep it. The war against
Bohemia had begun before France, Italy,
and the Pope were won over. In France
Rupert found a friend in Philip of Burgundy,
while Louis of Orleans supported Wenzel,
as did his German ally, the brave William
of Guelders. Henry IV. of England
hoped to secure the friendship of Rupert
through ties of kinship, and therefore
promoted the marriage of Rupert's son
with his daughter Blanche. Rupert had
also to obtain the recognition of the Pope ;
in fact, he hoped soon to gain the imperial
_ N crown. Boniface, far too en-
E eW ff grossed to be able to interfere in
mper i German affairs, did not refuse to

Mis r nends . .

recognise the new emperor, and
tried only to make sure of his help in the
Italian policy. The conditions were :
opposition to the counter-papacy, an im-
mediate expedition to Rome for corona-
tion, and political severance from France.

The emperor improved his position by
making a progress through the empire.
The important city of Nuremberg opened


its gates to him, and in May, 1401, the
first diet met there. Rapid preparations
for the expedition to Rome seemed desir-
able, as Florence offered 200,000 florins
in gold if he would come that very year
and begin the war for the recovery of
Milan. The details of the imperial corona-
tion were to have been discussed in Nurem-
berg ; but since the attendance was too
small, the matter was put off to a new diet
at Mainz.

Rupert could now have shunned
Germany. There were no further hostilities
to be feared from Wenzel, Sigismund had
been made prisoner by the Hungarian
nobility, and in Hungary the election of
a new king was contemplated. Jobst
again believed that under these circum-
stances he had a favourable opportunity to
gain the crown of Bohemia and renewed
the agreement, which had never been en-
tirely dissolved, with the Bohemian nobles.

A truce was arranged in July between
Wenzel and Rupert at Amberg, when
the new king formulated his demands,
but without producing any effect upon
the old sovereign. At the beginning of
Gr , July the expedition to Rome for
the coronation was discussed

at Mainz. The Austrians, in
Emperors t ,

return for a large sum

100,000 ducats allowed a passage through
their country and over the Brenner, and
the departure of the army from Augsburg
was planned for September 8th, 1401.
There was, however, a want of money,
and Florence did not wish to pay until
the sovereign was in Italy. Wenzel, also,
now returned an answer, but not such as
Rupert had hoped. He consented to
abandon his claim to the kingdom
in favour of Rupert, but wished to
become emperor himself. Besides this,
his daughter Elizabeth was to marry
Rupert's son, Hans, and in return for some
support in holding Bohemia, a small
cession of territory was planned. Rupert
wanted a complete resignation of all claims
by his rival, whose position soon became
very favourable.

Notwithstanding the distress in the
empire, of which his son Lewis was to
be regent, Rupert prepared to start from
Augsburg wkh an army of some 15,000
horsemen. But since no money was
forthcoming, 5,000 horsemen had to be
at once disbanded. An advance was
slowly made to Triertt, the proposed
starting-point of the campaign against


Galeazzo of Milan. Small reinforce-
ments came from Italy ; the money diffi-
culties increased, since Florence had for
the moment sent only 55,000 ducats, to
which another sum of 55,000 ducats and
only a small part in cash was added in
the middle of October. The war took an
unfavourable turn, since they failed to
take Brescia between October 2ist and
October 25th. Most of the German
princes Archbishop Frederic of Cologne,
Count Frederic of Mors, Duke Leopold
IV. of Austria now returned home.
Rupert, under stress of circumstances,
dismissed the greater part of his army,
but himself waited on, and, on November
1 8th, appeared with 400 horsemen in
Padua, still, of course, without money.

There was little inclination in Florence
to pay the rest of the 90,000 ducats when
the advance against Galeazzo had been
entirely unsuccessful. Negotiations were
still pending with the Pope as to the terms
and the form of the recognition. Florence
finally paid at the end of 1401, or the
beginning of 1402, 65,000 ducats more
44,000 in specie, 21,000 in pay for mer-
_ , cenaries. But the little band
upcr s Q J i O y a i followers round the

r king daily diminished. And so

Expedition , < , , ,-. ,

he remained after December

nth in Venice without any prospect of
seeing Rome, for Boniface declared em-
phatically that the coronation could take
place only if the war against Galeazzo was
vigorously prosecuted, whether by the
help of Venice or through royal merce-
naries. This result was unattainable, for
money was wanting. The king and his
followers borrowed what they could, but
that was soon spent. After a second stay
in Padua, from January 2Qth to the middle
of April, he went back to Germany through
Friuli. On May ist, 1402, Rupert was
again in Munich, and one of the most
calamitous expeditions to Rome that had
ever been attempted, was thus terminated.
The state of affairs in Germany was
equally gloomy. There was a want of
money, and nothing was less likely than
a general acknowledgment of the king.
The Luxemburgs, above all, persisted in
their refusal, although Sigismund, released
from captivity, took his brother Wenzel
prisoner and conveyed him to Vienna.
The latter escaped towards the end of
1403, and his sovereignty in Bohemia was
again established, while in all parts of the
empire feuds raged, and the negotiations

with other countries about the Church
question had not yet borne any fruit.

A change in the international relations
was introduced by the death of Giovanni
Galeazzo of Milan. He had, after the
murder of Bernabo Visconti in 1385, be-
come the head of the seigniories, and had
bought from Wenzel the title of duke and

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