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 30 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 30 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Riga, Dorpat, Reval, Fellin, Pernau,
Wolmar, Wenden like the alliance of the
Wendish towns, at the head of which was
Liibeck, until all these unions were
eventually absorbed by the great and
general alliance of the Hansa, to which
also the Prussian and Livonian towns
belonged, though they did not abandon
their narrower objects and confederations.
It was then found that the general
interests of the Hansa and the special
aims of Prussia and Livonia failed to
coincide ; quarrels ensued, and the Hansa
launched a sentence of boycott. The
situation becam6 the more complicated
when the Order began to carry on trade
on its own account, and was now
a- rival and now an ally of its towns, and

much to Germany, abandoned their de-
fensive policy for exclusion and attack,
menaced the acquisitions of earlier days
and plundered the empire, which could
protect itself neither as a whole nor in its
individual parts.

The anti-German reaction in the east
reached its most dangerous point in the
kingdom of the Szlachta. The Poles and
Lithuanians delivered a series of vigorous
blows which shattered the power of the
Teutonic Order and made its territory
the prey of foreign peoples. We have
here to chronicle not merely the cessation
of German achievements or the degenera-
tion of German institutions, but rather a
number of permanent and irrecoverable


riendli >
the Germans

Poland had long ceased to be a tributary
vassal state of the German king ; none
the less German municipal institutions,
German right, and German colonisation
had secured an entry. Even under Casimir
the Great, who died in 1370, and Louis the
Great, who died in 1382, the Polish state
maintained a friendly attitude to the
German nation and civilisation
which passed its frontiers.

When j Uon of Lithuan i a
, r . , , , .

became king of Poland in 1300,

and the heathen Lithuanians adopted
Roman Catholicism, German immigrants
and German town rights were admitted
to the newly converted country. The
union, however, of these hereditary
enemies placed the Teutonic Knights in a
dangerous position. The Poles regarded
the Order as an unlawful intruder and
as the plunderer of Polish territory. They
could not forgive the occupation of Pome-
rellen, the land of Kulm and Michelau ;
and the new state founded by the Order
had cut off the approach to the sea.

Polish hostility had been less openly
expressed, but the open animosity of the
Lithuanians now led to an outbreak here.
Before the time of the union of the
Prussian and Livonian territories under
the government of the Order, the Lithu-
anians had been an obstacle to its further
extension. Even in the fourteenth
century Christian Europe shared in the
continuous wars against the Lithuanians
by sending crusaders. Now, however,
the Lithuanians had become Christians.

Foreign participation in the military
enterprises of the German Knights imme-
diately ceased, and the previous religious
excuse for a continuation of the struggle
was no longer possible, for on many occa-
sions the religious war had been nothing
more than a pretext. It was a struggle
for power, and primarily for the possession
of Lithuanian Samaitia, which advanced
in a wedge-shaped form and divided the
_ two halves of the territory of

S ort for the Kni g hts ' The Order had

quarrelled with its subjects,

Lithuania * , , , , J , '

who were weary of the burden
of war, and was no longer supported by
reinforcements of crusaders ; but none
the less it continued its struggle with the
Lithuanians, who were now Christians,
and eventually secured the disputed land-
mark of Samaitia. Lithuania was now,
however, in enjoyment of the support of
Poland. From the time Of Casimir the

Great, the Polish army was well organised,
and the Lithuanian prince, Witold, had
rearranged the national defences, whereas
the Order was obliged to enlist mercenaries
for lack of other means of help. In the
great battle of Tannenberg, on July isth,
1410, the heavily armed Knights, trained
for single combat, were overthrown by
the vast hordes of light troops -brought
against them by the East.

The heroic defence of Marienburg by
Henry of Plauen saved the Knights from
immediate downfall, and a tolerable peace
was made at Thorn on February ist, 1411,
which obliged the German rulers merely to
renounce possession of Samaitia and
Dobrzyn ; but the Order never recovered
from this blow, for the reason that
domestic disruption had begun. The line
of cleavage between the Brotherhood and
its subjects became a yawning chasm which
could no longer be closed. The landed
nobility who yearned for the freedom of
their Polish equals concluded treacherous
alliances, the most important of which
was the " Lizard League," and endangered
the existence of the community, while
p . , the towns, led by Dantzig, were
filled with commercial jealousy

Domestic , , , T , . , ,

Differences Knights and were merely

awaiting the moment which
would secure their independence.

The aristocracy of the towns and country
united for common action. Henry of
Plauen made an attempt to compose the
domestic differences of Prussia by an
organisation of estates, but his efforts
failed. The bold reformer was deprived
of his Grand Mastership in 1413, while
the forces of decay attacked the Order
itself. Knightly and spiritual discipline
disappeared, while selfishness and law-
lessness gained ground.

None the less the State of the Teutonic
Order endured for a time, though its
existence was embittered by domestic
and foreign conflicts. A change for the
worse began when the " Prussian Alliance "
was formed at the Assembly of Marien-
werder on March I4th, 1440 ; this was a
union of Knights and towns against the
Order. The Grand Master applied to the
emperor, and Frederic III. issued a
decree condemning the confederation,
which then sent a letter of renunciation to
the Order and offered the supremacy of
Prussia to the Polish king Casimir IV.
in 1454. The king graciously accepted the
offer, and appointed as his representative



Few chapters of history are more interesting to-day than the strange mediaeval story of the various orders of
knighthood that flourished in Germany and sought to extend Christianity by the sword. The sheer love of
combat and lust of power were greater driving forces to these mediaeval knights than any spiritual impulse towards
the Christian life. In this picture the artist has given a realistic impression of a Knight's castle, admirably
arranged for defence, every detail, to the place of the gibbet, as will be seen, carefully and ingeniously studied.



the leader of the opposition, Hans von
Baisen. For thirteen years the civil war
which the Knights carried on with mercen-
aries continued to rage. Even the Grand
Master's castle in Marienburg was mort-
gaged to provide money for the mercenary
troops, who were drawn chiefly from
Bohemia, and who sold the mortgage with
De . other castles to the Polish

. ec ^ . king ; many a noble family in
the Teutonic T-, V> j

Ord East Prussia derives its descent

from some ancestor who then
gained wealth as a leader of a band.
Eventually the Order was completely
exhausted, and concluded a second Peace
of Thorn on October igth, 1466. Western
Prussia became Polish ; and Polish it
remained until the partition of Poland
(1772-1795). The Grand Master was
obliged to do homage to King Casimir for
East Prussia.

It was not until a century after the
Peace of Thorn in 1466 that the fate of
the Livonian territory of the Order was
determined. The Teutonic Knights
remained in existence even after the
secularisation of 1525 ; at Mergentheim,
in Wurtemberg, the previous ruler of the
Order assumed the title of Grand and
Teutonic Master, and was thus styled
until 1809, while in Livonia the Master
of the army, who had been in any case
for a long time independent, remained at
the head. None the lesSLj,j;he prospects
of the German nationaJSpte this district
were worse than im t,he Polish feudal
state of Prussia. The only German
elements in Livonia .were towns and the
nobility, who were chiefly Westphaljans.
In this district there had been no thorough
peasant colonisation, and in every quarter
a clannish peasantry of Letts and Finns
had survived/ The non-German elements
felt for the Germans the slow hatred of
the serf for his master ; it was a hatred
that foreboded no danger provided that
no enemy gained a footing on Livonian
soil. However, the Baltic terri-

e tones were surrounded by
Germans i i

were Hated 8 reed y neighbours, who re-
garded them as an easy prey ;
such was the attitude of the Swedes and
Danes, the Poles and Russians. The only
question was whether the Livonian Order
would be able to make head against the
divided forces of its opponents.

Apart frorn the hatred of the Germans
entertained by, 'the original inhabitants,
there were other causes of friction which


- facilitated foreign interference. There was,
in particular, the quarrel which had
continued since the days of Bishop Albert
as to whether the Order or the bishop was
the true master of the country, and, the
comparative equality in, the forces oi
these two powers^prevented the possibility
of ending the struggle. The bishops, who
were generally the weaker party, often
attempted to secure their own prepon-
derance by treacherous intrigues. The
Order was also upon bad terms with the
towns ; Riga was itself often at variance
with its own archbishops.

The Livonian towns also had com-
mercial interests of their own, which
divided them from, the Hansa, and exposed
them to the hostility of the Muscovites.
When the Reformation came into the
country, neither the episcopate nor the
Order ventured' upon any decided step,
as had been done in Prussia, but remained
isolated, with their outward show of dead
Catholicism amid v a Protestant population.

For a while ^he Livonian Order was
able to enjoy prosperity, but after a
_ _ considerable interval, Ivan IV.

i i f the Terrible, renewed the war

. with it in November, 1557;
the Knights , ,, tr i

and the Knights m power wer6

once more in dissension as to whether they
should buy Danish, Swedish, or Polish help
at the price of submission. It was an event
of decided importance when the Master
of the army, Gotthard Kettler, applied
to Poland. fing Sigismund Augustus
accepted the protectorate of the land ojt
the Order and of the archbishopric, though
at the price of tjie immediate cession of
some frontier districts. However, the
Order was defeated in the battle of Ermes
on August 2nd, 1560, the last occasion on
which the banner of the Knights appeared
in the battlefield. No alternative now
remained. Livonia beyond the Dvina
submitted to the* king of Poland in 1561!.
The' Privilegium Sigismundi Augusti* ojf
November 28th contains the constitutional
arrangement by means of which the Order
was able to maintain '-its existence as a
separate organisation for another threfe
centuries under foreign rule. George
Kettler received Courland and Semgallen,
with the ducal title as an hereditary fief
dependent upon Poland, and made Mitau
his capital. Esthonia with Reval had
submitted to Swedish supremacy some
months earlier in the same year, that is,
in June, 1561. RICHARD MAYR



/CHARLES' kingdom of God was a unity
which could not be maintained by his
" pious " son Louis ; it was broken into
a plurality of nations. All who had the
welfare of the Church at heart would
naturally strive to preserve this unity, in
spite of political disruption. The present
task before the Church, the education of
the half-civilised nations, could be per-
formed only if it were hindered by no
boundaries of nationality, if its power were
everywhere the same, and acting by
uniform means. Long ago the papacy
had regarded itself as the centre of the
universal Church, standing far above all
political change. But how could these
aspirations be fulfilled ?

It was impossible that Church and
State should advance upon separate
paths, continually thwarting one another
for the reason that their boundaries
were coterminous. The idea which
Charles the Great had so brilliantly
realised was too splendid and too illumi-
nating to admit this final possibility. The
object now before the Church must be a
new kingdom of God, with the Pope at its
head. The Emperor Charles had formed a
kingdom of God and obliged

Popes the Church to serve him in its

Demoded own s P here ' the kingdoms of
the world were now to serve
the Popes for the same object. Not until
this ideal was realised would peace and
harmony reign, though it was not likely
that the transformation would be com-
pleted without severe struggles. The
theories of Charles had met with
unanimous support, because they were in

harmony with the views already prevailing
in the Prankish Church that the Church of
the country should be subject to the ruler
of the land. The Pope's idea overthrew
these traditions, proposing, as it did, to
secure the contrary object, the supremacy
of the Church over secular princes.

The Pope H ence the reat struggle was
Among inevitable. And no less inevit-
thc Rebels, ablewas a return to the theories
of Charles ; but as long as the
whole ideal of the kingdom of God upon
earth was not surrendered, the struggle
would continue until the Church attained
her goal.

The question then arose who would
support the papacy in this conflict. Even
under Louis the Pious we can observe the
terrible division which separated the
friends of Church and State. When the
emperor's sons, for the second time, took
up arms against their father, the Pope
is also to be found in the camp of the
rebels. The bishops were divided in their

Some there were who were wholly
in accord with the theory that the Pope
acted as Christ's representative, on behalf
of the peace of the Church ; and to this
extent the emperor was also bound to
obedience to the papacy. Others gathered
round their emperor, and sent a document
to the Pope in which they reminded him
of his oath of fealty, and declared that
they would refuse him their fellowship
should he decline submission to his
master. The Pope himself was over-
thrown. But those Prankish prelates who
regarded the papacy as the sole guarantee



for the unity of the Church advanced
a number of claims on behalf of papal
authority, which revived the courage of
the Pope. In the Pope was centred all
authority and the supreme power of the
Apostle Peter ; it was for him to judge,
and to be judged of none. This theory
becomes more definite and general among
the West Frankish bishops

The Great when the actua l division of

the Church tne em P^ re na cl taken place.
There was an anxiety to see the
Church and its bishops secured against
the secular princes, and to make the
Church a great and independent power ;
further, in order to secure general recogni-
tion for these views, it is alleged that
false decretals were employed. The new
regulations devised under new circum-
stances to secure the prosperity of the
Church were given the stamp of primi-
tive laws. Three of these decretals were
produced. The first two, the so-called
" Capitula of Angilram " and the " Collec-
tion of Capitularies of Benedict Levita,"
are pieces of bungling ; but the third,
" The Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals," was a
much stronger document.

This collection of ecclesiastical law,
ascribed to Isidore of Seville, who died
in 636, but concocted within the Frankish
Empire, was increased by a number of
other decretals, which were dated as
belonging to the first Roman bishops.
Nearly one hundred purported papal letters
were inserted in the collection, apart
from other well-known pieces of the same
kind. Of these latter, one was the " Dona-
tion of Constantine," alleged to have been
fabricated in the time of Pippin and already
cited against him ; the document asserted
that the Emperor Constantine, when
healed of leprosy by Pope Sylvester,
arranged that the bishop should be supreme
over all priests in the world, that his chair
should be superior to the emperor's throne,
that senatorial honour and consular rank
should be given to the clergy who served
the Roman Church, and that they should
in consequence have the right of deco-
rating their horses with white trappings.

When the Pope in his humility declined to
wear the golden crown the emperor served
him as a squire, holding the bridle of his
horse, and promised him the possession of
all the provinces in Italy and
Emperor the nort hern districts, trans-

as Squire to, ,. . . ,

the Pope ferrmg his own capital from
Rome to Byzantium. Thus,
what the emperor was to be hence-
forward in the East, the Pope was to be
in the West in virtue of Constantine's

In the case of the alleged false decretals
we must distinguish between their inten-
tion and their actual influence. The object
was the elevation, not so much of the papal
as of the episcopal power. It was declared
that according to the Apostle Paul no
secular court had jurisdiction over a priest.
Only the provincial synod could proceed
against a bishop ; neither the laity nor
the inferior clergy could be admitted to
the proceedings as plaintiffs or witnesses,
though seventy-two witnesses were de-
manded. That the forcible expulsion of a
bishop might be made impossible it was
provided that no charges against a bishop
should be considered until he had been
completely restored to his rights and pro-
perty. In order to preserve the episcopal
power against secular violence principles
were announced concerning the papacy
which made it the " head of the whole
world " ; the papal chair was invested with
a right of final decision in all ecclesiastical
matters. Only the Pope could summon
a synod, and all questions
HOW the of difficulty must be submitted

, . i- . , ,

mm - *he wor ld a * large
was unaware of the facts,
and these decretals thus actually contri-
buted to give the papacy an unexampled
elevation in the eyes of the public. We
have a fine example here of the nemesis
of history. To secure a desired standpoint
for themselves the bishops assigned an
absolute ascendancy to the papacy. But
the Popes then used their superiority
for the subjugation also of the clergy,
and their yoke was heavier than that
which lay princes had formerly imposed,

Papacy was



and no treachery or deceit could avail to or archbishops, might attempt to main-
shake it off. tain independence of ideas or position,
The first Pope who appealed to these opposition might arise from the East or
new decretals as though they were recog- from the West, his own legates might
nised documents was Nicholas I. (858- prove incompetent to preserve his su-
867). He may be called the first mediaeval premacy, but never did he diverge a hair's
Pope. He was also the first Pope who breadth from his principles. His victories
was not only consecrated but also crowned were by no means invariably brilliant, but
upon his accession ; for he was the first he always maintained his claims to be a
to assume supremacy over the princes of ruler by divine right,
the nations, in order to facilitate the In accordance with these principles his
exercise of his supremacy over the Church, successors devoted their attention to
and for this purpose he declared himself limiting the imperial power. Eventually
lord of the united kingdom of God upon they were able to confer the mighty crown
earth. In his opinion the Christian Church of Charles the Great upon a Carolingian
depended upon the papacy ; upon the vassal, a duke of Spoleto. They had failed
existence of the papacy depended not only to consider that if the " protector " were

the religious, but also the
social and political order
of the world. Within the
Church the Pope was an
absolute monarch ; his word
was God's word, his action
God's action. The synods
could only execute the
decrees of the Pope, while
the bishops were merely
his commissioners; "their
capacity is to be measured
by their subordination to
the papal chair." The em-
peror and all other princes


He was elected to the chair of
St. Peter through the efforts of
Theodora, the wife of a senator, who
desired that he should be near her.

no longer master his pro-
tection would disappear,
though it was especially
needed against the defiant
Roman aristocracy, who
were anxious to secure the
temporal supremacy of the
papacy. The rapid changes
in the papacy became plain
when it was no longer sub-
ject to the political and
moral influence of the Teu-
tonic nationality. In the
eighteen years between 896

and 914 no fewer than

1 . , JL UtTVUUl O>, UUC W A1C Ul <* DCAlCbVUl. t W U.V J 1 * J T~

are concerned only with desired that he should be near her. thirteen Popes were over-
secular affairs. Hence there thrown,
can be no secular judgment of the John X. had ascended the chair of St.
clergy, and secular laws can never bar Peter. As a deacon he had often been
ecclesiastical rights. Should the contra- sent to Rome from Ravenna, where
diction occur, secular law is thereby Theodora, the wife of a senator, had chosen
proved unsound, for even in purely polit- him as her adviser. It was said that
ical matters the princes were bound to she influenced his election as Pope,
fulfil the Pope's orders. To the Pope all Another woman, by name Marozzia,

the rulers of the earth must succeeded in throwing him into prison.

The Pope ^ ow ( j own Hence a king who She had a " spiritual son," as she called

and Princes governed badly, in the Pope's him, by her first husband, and this

judgment, was not a lawful man was raised to the papal chair

prince, but a tyrant against whom revolt in 931. Her " secular son," Alberic,

was obligatory. And, above all things, governed the city as patricius. She

the emperor must never forget that his offered her hand to the treacherous and

crown was given him by the Pope. voluptuous Prince Hugo of Provence, who

Nicholas ruled in full accordance with came to Rome hoping to secure the

this theory. Emperors or kings, bishops imperial crown through his wife. Their



marriage was celebrated in the castle of
St. Angelo, but Alberic, fearing for his
pos'* : 'On and his life as a result of this
connection, roused the people to arms.
The bridal couple were forced to let them-
selves down from the castle by a rope, and
Alberic, who was appointed Senator of the
Romans, imprisoned his mother. After a
reign of twenty years, when he felt the ap-
proach of death, he convened in St Peter's
Church a meeting of the ecclesiastical and
secular magnates of Rome to recognise his
son as the heir to his temporal power, and
as the future successor to the papacy.
Hence in no long time in 955 this
youth of fifteen years was able to unite
the spiritual and temporal powers. John
XII., whose original name was Octavian,
then became Pope, and was the first
to initiate the practice of changing the
pontiff's name. Otho the Great of
Germany at first favoured
Pope ^ m> kut later used his in-

John Xii. fluence to obtain his deposi-
tion. The results that occurred
were only to be expected when the papal
crown was transferred so often and so
easily. The influence of the papacy upon
the Church outside the walls of Rome
became practically non-existent, and every
national Church went its own way. John
X. did not hesitate to scold an archbishop
who was famous for his faithful devotion
to duty because he had conferred the
gifts of the Holy Spirit as though they
were earthly property upon an unworthy
recipient. Again, in a letter to another
archbishop, he could boast of his personal
prowess in battle and could

Religion , , ,. ., . . ,

in Italy. s P ea ^ c * his inexpressible grief
to hear of scandals from different
parts of the world, by which he could not
but be pained, as the cares of the whole
world were incumbent upon him.

In Italy, where the papacy was before
the eyes of the people, a rapid lapse of
religious life became obvious in this very
period. The traditional ceremonies were
indeed continued. This task being the
sole reason for the existence of the clergy,
the taste for education and science gradu-

ally but inevitably deserted them, and
the ignorance of the Roman clergy be-

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 30 of 55)