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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Soon afterwards Guenther of Schwarzburg died


CHAPTER XXI.

THE LUXEMBURG EMPERORS, KARL IV. AND WENZEL.

(1347--1410.)

The Imperial Crown in the Market --Guenther of Schwarzburg. --Karl IV. Emperor. --His Character and Policy. --The University of Prague. --Rienzi Tribune of Rome. --Karl's Course in Italy. --The "Golden Bull." --Its Provisions and Effect. --Coronation in Rome. --The Last Ten Years of his Reign. --His Death. --Eberhard the Greiner. --The "Hansa" and its Victories. --Achievements of the German Order. --Wenzel becomes Emperor. --The Suabian League. --The Battle of Sempach. --Independence of Switzerland. --Defeat of the Suabian Cities. --Wenzel's Rule in Prague. --Conspiracy against him. --Schism in the Roman Church. --Count Rupert Rival Emperor. --Convention of Marbach. --Anarchy in Germany. --Death-Blow to the German Order. --Rupert's Death.

[Sidenote: 1347.]

Although the German princes were nearly unanimous in the determination that no member of the house of Wittelsbach (Bavaria) should again be Emperor, they were by no means willing to accept Karl of Bohemia.[B] Ludwig's son, Ludwig of Brandenburg, made no claim to his father's crown, but he united with Saxony, Mayence and the Palatinate of the Rhine, in offering it to Edward III. of England. When the latter declined, they chose Count Ernest of Meissen, who, however, sold his claim to Karl for 10,000 silver marks. Then they took up Guenther of Schwarzburg, a gallant and popular prince, who seemed to have a good prospect of success. In this emergency Karl supported the pretensions of an adventurer, known as "the False Waldemar," to Brandenburg, against Ludwig, and thus compelled the latter to treat with him. Soon afterwards Guenther of Schwarzburg died, poisoned, it was generally believed, by a physician whom Karl had bribed, and by the end of 1348 the latter was Emperor of Germany, as Karl IV.

[B] Of the House of Luxemburg.

[Sidenote: 1348. KARL IV.]

At this time he was thirty-three years old. He had been educated in France and Italy, and was an accomplished scholar: he both spoke and wrote the Bohemian, German, French, Italian and Latin languages. He was a thorough diplomatist, resembling in this respect Rudolf of Hapsburg, from whom he differed in his love of pomp and state, and in the care he took to keep himself always well supplied with money, which he well knew how and when to use. He had first purchased the influence of the Pope by promising to disregard the declarations of the Diet of 1338 at Rense, and by relinquishing all claims to Italy. Then he won the free cities to his side by offers of more extended privileges; and the German princes, for form's sake, elected him a second time, thus acknowledging the Papal authority which they had so boldly defied, ten years before.

One of Karl's first acts was to found, in Prague--the city he selected as his capital--the _first_ German University, which he endowed so liberally and organized so thoroughly that in a few years it was attended by six or seven thousand students. For several years afterwards he occupied himself in establishing order throughout Germany, and meanwhile negotiated with the Pope in regard to his coronation as Roman Emperor. In spite of his complete submission to the latter, there were many difficulties to be overcome, arising out of the influence of France over the Papacy, which was still established at Avignon. Karl arrested Rienzi, "the last Tribune of Rome," and kept him for a time imprisoned in Prague; but when the latter was sent back to Rome as Senator by Pope Innocent VI., in 1354, Karl was allowed to commence his Italian journey. He was crowned Roman Emperor on the 5th of April, 1355, by a Cardinal sent from Avignon for that purpose. In compliance with his promise to Pope Innocent, he remained in Rome only a single day.


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