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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

The latter was the grandson of Maximilian


[Sidenote:

1520. BURNING THE POPE'S BULL.]

This was merely a truce, and it was soon broken. Dr. Eck, one of the partisans of the Church, challenged Luther's friend and follower, Carlstadt, to a public discussion in Leipzig, and it was not long before Luther himself was compelled to take part in it. He declared his views with more clearness than ever, disregarding the outcry raised against him that he was in fellowship with the Bohemian heretics. The struggle, by this time, had affected all Germany, the middle class and smaller nobles being mostly on Luther's side, while the priests and reigning princes, with a few exceptions, were against him. In order to defend himself from misrepresentation and justify his course, he published two pamphlets, one called "An Appeal to the Emperor and Christian Nobles of Germany," and the other, "Concerning the Babylonian Captivity of the Church." These were read by tens of thousands, all over the country.

Pope Leo X. immediately issued a bull, ordering all Luther's writings to be burned, excommunicating those who should believe in them, and summoning Luther to Rome. This only increased the popular excitement in Luther's favor, and on the 10th of December, 1520, he took the step which made impossible any reconciliation between himself and the Papal power. Accompanied by the Professors and students of the University, he had a fire kindled outside of one of the gates of Wittenberg, placed

therein the books of canonical law and various writings in defence of the Pope, and then cast the Papal bull into the flames, with the words: "As thou hast tormented the Lord and His Saints, so may eternal flame torment and consume thee!" This was the boldest declaration of war ever hurled at such an overwhelming authority; but the courage of this one man soon communicated itself to the people. The knight, Ulric von Hutten, a distinguished scholar, who had been crowned as poet by the Emperor Maximilian, openly declared for Luther: the rebellious baron, Franz von Sickingen, offered him his castle as a safe place of refuge. Frederick the Wise was now his steadfast friend, and, although the dangers which beset him increased every day, his own faith in the righteousness of his cause only became firmer and purer.

[Sidenote: 1519.]

By this time the question of electing a successor to Maximilian had been settled. When the Diet came together at Frankfort, in June, 1519, two prominent candidates presented themselves,--king Francis I. of France, and king Charles of Spain, Naples, Sicily and the Spanish possessions in the newly-discovered America. The former of these had no other right to the crown than could be purchased by the wagon-loads of money which he sent to Germany; the latter was the grandson of Maximilian, and also represented, in his own person, Austria, Burgundy and the Netherlands. Again the old jealousy of so much power arose among the Electors, and they gave their votes to Frederick the Wise, of Saxony. He, however, shrank from the burden of the imperial rule, at such a time, and declined to accept. Then Charles of Spain, who had ruined the prospects of Francis I. by distributing 850,000 gold florins among the members of the Diet, was elected without any further difficulty. The following year he was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle, and became Karl V. in the list of German Emperors. Although he reigned thirty-six years, he always remained a foreigner: he never even learned to speak the German language fluently: his tastes and habits were Spanish, and his election, at such a crisis in the history of Germany, was a crime from the effects of which the country did not recover for three hundred years afterwards.


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