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

. (page 21 of 55)
Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 21 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

place by a general council, where the reform
of the Church should be treated. England
and France also urged that a council should
be summoned before 1433. Even in Prague
the idea of a council became less repugnant.
After the electors of Mainz and Branden-
burg, together with the representatives of
some towns, had conferred with the emperor
at Pressburg in 1429, about the pacification
of the empire, the latter came into the
empire in the summer of 1430, and held a
diet at Straubing. The Hussite question
was discussed, but the thoughts of Sigis-
mund were clearly fixed on a march over



the Alps, for the Pope still took no steps to
summon the much-desired council. At last,
yielding to universal pressure, he nomi-
nated Cardinal Cesarini, at the beginning of
1431, president, with full jurisdiction. He
died soon afterwards. Steps were quickly
taken to hold a new election, resulting in
the choice of Eugene IV. (1431-1447), who
was forced, however, on his
election to swear to compre-
Victory n hensive conditions in favour
of the college of cardinals.
Sigismund learned of these events at
Nuremberg, where a very crowded diet
was just debating the vigorous suppression
of the Bohemian heretics. When he heard
from Cesarini that the council was actually
to assemble soon, he wished only to settle
the defence of the frontiers, and then to
wait for the proceedings of the council.

But the electors were in favour of war ;
the emperor gave way, and the preparations
continued, though slowly, supported by
the crusade sermons of Cesarini. On August
i4th, 1431, the imperial army met the
Hussites at Taus, but, although superior
in numbers, it was broken up, and thus all
the preparations had been futile.

Without any special opening the council
at Basle had actually begun its sittings
in the spring. After the failure of the
Hussite campaign it seemed to the car-
dinal himself that the religious troubles
of the Bohemians could be solved only by
encouraging the council, especially since
some princes were already attempting to
effect a union with the heretics by private
treaties. Sigismund's old wish to start
the reform of the Church drove him to an
interview with Pope Eugene, in order to
treat with him about his coronation as
emperor. He thought it indeed prudent
to clear up every point before his appear-
ance in Basle. After the Duke of Milan
had promised money payments during the
period of the stay in Italy, and an escort
to Rome, Sigismund started in the autumn
_. with a small following, and was

crowned on November 25th, at
at Milan Milan. The duke now made
difficulties, and wished the king
to return, especially since there was no
prospect of an agreement with the Pope.

The latter was emphatically an opponent
of the council, and wished that it should
sit in an Italian town. When he learned
that the council had, on its own responsi-
bility, invited the Bohemians to discuss
matters, he hastily decided to dissolve the


assembly, and summoned it to Bologna for
1433. But the assembled fathers paid
little attention, and remained together,
mindful of the resolutions at Constance.

Sigismund strongly supported this
action ; he would rather have renounced
the imperial crown, although his position in
Italy, without money and without a suffi-
cient following, was very unenviable. The
council now sent an urgent summons to
the Pope himself to appear in Basle, or to
send authorised representatives ; but he
did not come. Sigismund, meanwhile,
was hard pressed by Florence and by
papal troops, and could not in any case
return to Germany, for there he would have
been obliged to surrender himself submis-
sively to the council, and his independent
policy would have thus been destroyed.

Eugene was forced to yield in January,
1433, for the whole of Christendom
was for the council and against him.
He feared that he would lose the papal
states, and tried to prevent this by the Bull
of February I4th, which permitted the
holding of the council at Basle, and con-
templated the appointment of delegates.
, Eugene, moreover, met the wish
_ of Sigismund to see himself

ory crowned. OnMay3ist thecoro-


nation as emperor took place,
after the ordinary oath had been adminis-
tered. But the displeasure of the council
was excited because the newly-crowned
emperor was now attached by his oath
to the person of the Pope.

Sigismund left Rome in August, 1433,
after he had induced Pope Eugene to
recognise the council from the very begin-
ning, on condition that it would repeal all
the resolutions passed against the Pope.
When the emperor entered Basle, important
duties awaited him, for the assembly was
seriously threatening the suspension of
the Pope. The extremity to which the
Pope had been brought by the events of
the war in Italy, finally compelled him to
abandon his opposition to the council.
He declared the dissolution of it, which
he had previously proclaimed, to be null
and void, and marked out the duties of the
assembly exactly as it had itself compre-
hended them to be.

In April, 1434, the arrangement was
completed. Council, emperor, and Pope
now worked in common for the reform
of the Church ; but no progress was made
in this direction, and Sigismund left the
assembly dissatisfied.


He had, however, done a great work in
obtaining a settlement of the Bohemian
question. The Hussite leader Procop
accepted the invitation of the council to
enter into negotiations, and the first con-
ference took place in May, 1432, at Eger.

Widely extended legal protection was
granted to Hussites of all denominations,
and the permission to introduce motions
was .also conceded. The deputation finally
appeared at Basle in October, 1433, Procop
also being a member. Discussions of im-
mense length were now started, naturally
without result. At last a deputation of
the council went with the Bohemians to
Prague, and there drew up the terms of
peace the Compacts of Prague which
were accepted by the council and then
ratified by the Bohemian diet on November
30th, 1433. Contests, indeed, were still
threatening, for the different Hussite
factions began hostilities among them-
selves, and took warlike measures against
the town of Pilsen, which had remained
true to the Catholic faith. But in this
struggle the moderate nobles won the
day, while the Taborites disappeared.
The position in the East was
considerably changed by the

death f K ing Wladislaus of
Poland, toward the end of
May, 1434. There was no longer any fear
of a political alliance of the Bohemians
with the Poles, even if Sigismund still
regarded with distrust the growth of the
Polish power and instigated the Teutonic
Order to war with it. In the autumn of 1434,
the emperor left the empire ; in the summer
of 1435 there were interminable negotia-
tions over the administration of the
Compacts of Prague, and the terms on
which Sigismund was to be acknowledged
king in Bohemia. Without having come
to any real result, Sigismund entered
Prague on August 23rd, 1436, after the
compacts had been solemnly published and
the king had promised not to allow anyone
to be forced to receive the communion in
both kinds. The disturbances, however,
still continued for a long time, but did
not any longer affect the empire, being
restricted to Bohemia.

Sigismund, did not experience much
happiness either there or in the empire ; the
proceedings in the council, events in the
empire, and the threatened war against
Burgundy, exhausted him, while gout
tormented him. An imperial diet at Eger,
in the autumn of 1436, resulted in nothing,


and the emperor's hope of seeing his son-in-
law Albert chosen king of the Romans was
not realised. Sigismund died on December
gth, 1437, at Znaim, leaving no male issue.
At Basle, meantime, an earnest effort
was being made to reform the Church and
the papacy. But the wielder of the papal
power, Eugene IV., was not present to
_ -I* take part in the work ; and this

led to a bitter feeling among
Basle and , ,

The Pope the der Sy a g amst the P a P al
absolutism, which could no

longer be repressed by pacific means.
The resolution of the council, which
abolished all the papal revenues derived
from the holders of offices, was due
merely to this fact, and Eugene naturally
refused to acknowledge it. But matters
did not come to an open breach until the
Greek Church, threatened by the Turkish
danger, made proposals in order to effect
once more a union with the Roman Church.

The Pope wished to discuss this point only
in an Italian synod, and thus hoped to jbe
quit of the assembly at Basle. But; the
majority of the council decided to, retain
Basle, and when Eugene for the second
time dissolved the council and convoked
a new one at Ferrara for the beginning
of 1438, the proceedings against him were
opened at Basle. When, however, it was
generally known that a large number of
attendants at the council were actually
in Ferrara, and after February, 1439, in
Florence, the best men left the old
meeting-place of the council and espoused
the papal party. On July 6th, 1439, the
union between the Romans and the Greeks
was sworn to in the Cathedral of Florence.

Soon no one troubled himself further
about the proceedings at Basle, least of
all Pope Eugene, who had been deposed
there. In the spring of 1443 the rest of
the assembly moved from Basle in order
to continue their session at Lausanne.
There the assembly was dissolved in
1449, after it had been forced to recognise
Nicholas V. the successor of
t . n ., Eugene. The German princes,

, , after 1438, kept, on the whole,
of Basle . ?/ J ,

m the background ; they

did not wish again to interfere directly
in ecclesiastical questions. The " Con-
cordat of Vienna " was promulgated in
1448 under Frederic III. By this the
relations of the Curia to Germany were
carefully fixed, but at the same time all
the results were clearly annulled which the
councils had accomplished for Germany.











'"THE German throne, which Sigismund
* left vacant by his death, seemed to
the princes so little desirable that this time
no one sought it. The electors finally
chose at Frankfort, in March, 1438,
according to the usual ceremony, Sigis-
mund's son-in-law, Albert of Austria, an
excellent man, who at first hesitated to
accept their choice. The diet of Nurem-
berg in 1438 established, as the fruit of
the efforts for reform which Albert
favoured, a public peace, which formed
the foundation-stone of reform in the
empire, and only through the early death
of Albert failed to have further results
for the empire. It provided for a division
of the empire into six circles, which were
to represent independent constitutional
bodies, and for a general improvement in
the administration of justice and the
total suppression of feuds. Beyond this,

Albert did not interpose in the
Death of f ,if

government of the empire,

for the internal disturbances
in his hereditary dominions,
Bohemia and Hungary, and the growing
Turkish danger, claimed his entire
powers. On the way home, after a some-
what unsuccessful campaign against the
infidels, he died at the end of October,
1439, before any reform worthy of mention
in the empire can be recorded.

The throne was once more vacant, and
no one aspired to it. The electors this time
contrary to the advice of his private
secretary, Johann Gert agreed upon
Frederic, who, in common with his
brother, possessed Styria, Carinthia, and
Carniola. He was with difficulty induced
to accept the duties of sovereign. His
character was little adapted to these
duties ; indecision was joined to dislike
of military undertakings. It was there-
fore an easy task for a man of powerful
intellect like ^Eneas Sylvius, subsequently
Pope Pius II., to guide the policy of the
emperor according to his views, and this


of Austria

he did above all in the Church question,
which, owing to the council at Basle,
still violently agitated men's minds. It
was due chiefly to his influence that the
results of the council's proceedings were
completely lost in Germany ; for all that
, had been gained was ultimately
* abandoned in the Concordat
Q Vienna. Since Frederic
belonged to the poorer princes,
the rank of German king was of peculiar
importance to him ; he could increase
his family possessions by it. An op-
portunity for doing so was presented
him at the very beginning of his reign,
when he was appointed guardian both
of Albert's posthumous son Ladislaus,
the heir of Hungary, Bohemia and
Austria, and also of the infant Sigismund
of Tyrol. In Hungary, after long party
disputes, John Hunyadi was chosen
governor in 1446 during the minority of
the king ; but Frederic kept his ward
to himself, together with the royal crown.
The Bohemians wished to have Frederic
himself as king, but he declined the crown,
and, in fact, did not wish to undertake
the regency for Ladislaus. Two adminis-
trators, one a Catholic and the other a
Utraquist, were now appointed ; but
Frederic refused to give up the king even
to them. The internal disputes led finally
to the result that George of Podiebrad
and Cunstatt, with the consent of Frederic,
became sole administrator after 1452.
And when Ladislaus died prematurely in
1457, George Podiebrad was chosen king of

' Bohemia on March 2nd, 1458.

New Kings j n Hungary j n the same year

in Bohemia Hunyadi ' s son Matthias Cor-
and Hungary ^^ ^ ^^ king Jn

Austria, the third of Ladislaus's hereditary
dominions, where for a long time, in con-
sequence of an open insurrection of the
nobility of the country against Frederic,
Ulrich von Eitzing, a powerful noble,
had held the government, Frederic's


archbishop in his stead. Since Dietrich
gave way reluctantly and found support
from his ally the palsgrave, a bloody war
ensued, in the course of which Adolf
conquered, and the town of Mainz, which
stood by Dietrich, lost its position as a
free city of the empire on October 27th,
1462. At the same time the imperial town
Donauworth was threatened by Lewis of
Bavaria-Landschut ; the king, therefore,
suspended the ban over him and en-
trusted Albert Achilles with his punish-
- ment. Lewis had allies
in the emperor's brother,
the Bohemian king, and
Frederic the palsgrave ;
twenty-four cities of the
empire, which feared for
their own existence, op-
posed them. But the
Brandenburger was de-
feated on July 19, 1462,
by the Wittelsbacher at
Giengen, and in 1463 a
peace was made there.

In Austria the strained
relations between the
king and his brother
Albert continued. The
latter roused the city of
Vienna to open insurrec-
tion against Frederic.
When at last the
Bohemian king came to
his help, a peace was
concluded between the
brothers at the end of
1462 ; but only Albert's
death in December, 1463,
prevented a renewal of
the fraternal war.

In Bohemia the reli-
gious controversies were
make the feeblest effort Frederic !!! 6 cohere? a n difficuit the eriod 8:n an d f st ^ heated. George
to preserve the tran- thus, though' he was fond of peace, he had Podiebrad owed his king-

QuillitV Of the land many struggles to face. He defeated the j f f ^ TTtrannict

schemes of his many opponents in Germany. a m tne UtraqUlSt

Archbishop Dietrich of From the statue at Innsbruck party, and, after he

Mainz and Frederic of the Palatinate, who had been recognised in his dignity by
had hitherto been opponents, now united
and set about the deposition of the king.
George Podiebrad was to succeed him,
since he seemed most adapted to support
the anti-papal efforts of the archbishop.
But the opposition of the other electors,
especially Frederic of Brandenburg, pre-
vented the execution of the plan. Die-
trich of Mainz was finally worsted in his
struggle with the Pope ; he was deposed

brother Albert now governed, while Sigis-
mund himself had ruled in Tyrol since

Before these unfortunate events in his
own house the new king had been crowned
at Aix-la-Chapelle in June, 1442. Pope
Eugene, before the resolution of the Con-
cordat of Vienna, hadpromised the king that
he would crown him emperor, and would
provide funds for the expedition to Rome
in the event of his showing himself amen-
able to his views. But- the journey to
Italy took place only in r
1452, just when the Aus-
trians had risen against
the royal guardian, and
on March 19, 1452, the
last solemn imperial coro-
nation of a German king
was celebrated at Rome.

Frederic did not appear
personally in the imperial
diets, but willingly let
himself be represented
by .<Eneas Sylvius, and
the princes appeared
the~e in correspondingly
small numbers. Mean-
while, bitter feuds in-
volving unspeakable
devastation of the coun-
try raged in the Wettin
territories between the
brothers Frederic and
William, and in Fran-
conia between Albert
Achilles and the imperial
city of Nuremberg and
the strong body of sup-
porters on both sides
as well as between
the Rhenish princes.
Frederic did not once


and Count

Adolf of Nassau nominated

emperor and Pope, he had always a foe
which, on account of his religious attitude,
refused to acknowledge him and do
homage the town of Breslau, which
belonged to his realm. The inhabitants
were at last, in 1459, induced by the
mediation of the Pope to promise that they
would do homage to the king in three
years. Pope Pius II. (1458-1464) was
indignant at the little attention which
King George paid to his favourite scheme

From the fresco by Pinturicchio in the Library ot the Cathedral at Siena



the war with Turkey, and began a war Vienna itself fell into the hands of

against the Bohemian Utraquists, while the Hungarian in 1485, and Frederic

he declared the compacts to be void and was compelled to ask the help of the

took Breslau under his especial protection empire. It was only in the diet of

against George. The latter, on the other Nuremberg in 1487 that the princes

hand, was driven by the harsh procedure agreed to send help, and in fact a small

of the Popfe to estrange himself more than army was collected under the command

ever from the Catholics. Pius II. died in of Duke Albert of Saxony. A treaty

August 1464, but his succes- was concluded by which Matthias retained

sor. Paul II., continued still all conquests until full compensation was

more firmly the policy of his given, which Frederic was absolutely

predecessor in the Bohemian unable to do. Fortunately, Matthias

question. He released the subjects from died in 1490, and thus released the em-

their oath of allegiance, deposed the king, peror from his unpleasant position,
and preached the crusade against the On the western frontier of Germany

Bohemian heretics. In the civil war a new danger was threatening from

George himself was victorious over the Charles the Bold of Burgundy. It was a

Hungarian king, Matthias Corvinus. He natural consequence of the feebleness of

did not, up to his death in 1471, renounce the German king that Charles the Bold

for the Throne
of Bohemia

the Bohemian throne. He
his successor the youth-
ful son of the Polish king
Ladislaus, but he had to
fight for his throne against
the claims of King Matthias
of Hungary. The war lasted
seven years. Poland kept
true to Bohemia, but Hun-
gary found supporters in
Silesia, and especially in the
town of Breslau. In the
Peace of 1478 Ladislaus was
obliged to cede Moravia,
Silesia, and Lausitz to

had chosen caused the greatest uneasiness in the parts

of the German Empire ad-
jacent to his land ; he had,
indeed, little to fear from the
empire. The district of elec-
toral Cologne seemed mostly
endangered, and the emperor
was disposed to begin an
imperial war there against
Charles. Archbishop Rupert,
little beloved by his subjects,
had been deprived of his office
by the Pope, but naturally
did not wish to resign the
archbishopric, or, above all,
to recognise the authority


Matthias Corvinus of Hun- The third son of Frederic i., Elector o f the chosen administrator,
gary had also to fight with the sLceede^^thre^prtaci^autie? Hermann von Hesse. Since
Emperor Frederic. At the and engaged in successful wars the whole country, and
very outset of his rule, in with Mecklenburg and Pomerania. especially the towns, sup-
1458, one party had chosen the emperor ported Hermann, he had no other recourse

as rival king. Frederic was finally
compelled to renounce the crown, and

than to appeal to the Burgundian for
help. Charles gladly complied, and began,

to content himself with the prospect in the summer of 1474, the siege of the

of acquiring it in the event of Matthias strong archiepiscopal town of Neuss. He

dying without issue. But while Mat- met, however, with unexpected resistance,

thias was fighting with Ladislaus for and had to invest the town for ten months,

the Bohemian crown, Frederic provoked A strong imperial army appeared in the

him by investing Ladislaus with the


spring of 1475 under the corn-

electoral vote and Bohemia, and an f a !! ur j. mand of the Margrave Albert

invasion Of Austria hv tVl^ Hntifrorion Of the Siege A-V.:II OC _r Rfoi-i^oTiKni-rr

invasion of Austria by the Hungarian
king was the result.

of Neuss

Achilles of Brandenburg ;
Charles abandoned the siege

In order to free himself, Frederic was and retired to Burgundy. He declined

obliged to invest the latter with Bohemia any further support of Rupert, and the

and pay a large indemnity. But administrator Hermann became Arch-

Matthias came again with an army, and bishop of Cologne.

this time remained for many years, since While the possessions of the house of

Frederic wished to place the Archbishop Hapsburg in Bohemia and Hungary, and

of Graz, who had been exiled by him, even in Austria, were shrinking, and the

on the archiepiscopal throne of Salzburg, incapable King Frederic hardly made



any attempt to maintain for himself and
his house their proper power in the
German east, his son Maximilian, with
youthful energy, was taking a prominent
part in the relations with Burgundy on the
western frontier. In his whole character
a complete contrast to his father, eloquent
and liberal, endowed with the most varied
interests, he became the idol

M *" ml , , of the people, and lived long
the Idol of m the memory of the masses
h,s People ag the Last of the Knights>

Indeed, his personality cannot be better
characterised than as the embodiment of
chivalry. His marriage with Mary of
Burgundy had been repeatedly the subject
of diplomatic relations between Frederic
and Charles the Bold. But when the
latter died, and Mary was actually left
heiress of her father's dominions, the
marriage of the heiress, aged twenty
years, with Maximilian, who was a year
younger, was soon celebrated at Ghent in
August, 1477.

Louis had already begun the war against
Burgundy, and internal disorders were
rife, especially in the towns of Bruges and
Brussels. The first task, therefore, of the
new ruler was to subdue his land by force
of arms, fortune favoured him ; he
defeated the French on August I7th, 1479,
at Guinegatte, and was then able to regard
himself as lord of the country.

Two children, Philip and Margaret, were
born of the marriage with Mary, and when
the duchess died in 1482, Philip, then four
years old, was the heir of her dominions.
Maximilian was recognised indeed in the
north as guardian of the boy, but the town
of Ghent got Philip into its power, and
Flanders, Holland, and Brabant formed
an alliance with France. An understand-
ing with France was finally brought about,
without further fighting, by the Peace of
Arras at the end of 1482, according to
which a part of the Burgundian kingdom
was restored to France, and the marriage of

Margaret, a child of two years,
Flanders -it. A-U T% i.- /^-L. i

' S th Dauphin Charles was

With FrtJe ^ranged- But Flanders still
professed a sympathy with
France, with which Maximilian had diffi-
culty in contending. First and foremost,
the province demanded an independent
administration under a council of regency

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 21 of 55)