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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

The Emperor proclaimed what was called the Augsburg Interim


[Sidenote:

1548. TYRANNY OF CHARLES V.]

His wife, the Duchess Sibylla, heroically defended Wittenberg against the Emperor, but when John Frederick had been despoiled of his territory, she could no longer hold the city, which was surrendered. Charles V. was urged by Alba and others to burn Luther's body and scatter the ashes, as those of a heretic; but he answered, like a man: "I wage no war against the dead." Herein he showed the better side of his nature, although only for a moment. Philip of Hesse was not strong enough to resist alone, and finally, persuaded by his son-in-law, Maurice of Saxony, he promised to beg the Emperor's pardon on his knees, to destroy all his fortresses except Cassel, and to pay a fine of 150,000 gold florins, on condition that he should be allowed to retain his princely rights. These were Charles V.'s own conditions; but when Philip, kneeling before him, happened (or seemed) to smile while his application for pardon was being read, the Emperor cried out: "Wait, I'll teach you to laugh!" Breaking his solemn word without scruple, he sent Philip instantly to prison, and the latter was kept for years in close confinement, both in Germany and Flanders.

Charles V. was now also master of Northern Germany, except the city of Magdeburg, which was strongly fortified, and refused to surrender. He entrusted the siege of the place to Maurice of Saxony, and returned to Bavaria, in order to be nearer Italy.

He had at last become the arbitrary ruler of all Germany: he had not only violated his word in dealing with the princes, but defied the Diet in subjecting them by the aid of foreign soldiers. His court, his commanders, his prelates, were Spaniards, who, as they passed through the German States, abused and insulted the people with perfect impunity. The princes were now reaping only what they themselves had sown; but the mass of the people, who had had no voice in the election,--who saw their few rights despised and their faith threatened with suppression--suffered terribly during this time.

[Sidenote: 1548.]

In May, 1548, the Emperor proclaimed what was called the "Augsburg Interim," which allowed the communion in both forms and the marriage of priests to the Protestants, but insisted that all the other forms and ceremonies of the Catholic Church should be observed, until the Council should pronounce its final judgment. This latter body had removed from Trent to Bologna, in spite of the Emperor's remonstrance, and it did not meet again at Trent until 1551, after the death of Pope Paul III. There was, in fact, almost as much confusion in the Church as in political affairs. A number of intelligent, zealous prelates desired a correction of the former abuses, and they were undoubtedly supported by the Emperor himself; but the Pope with the French and Spanish cardinals and bishops, controlled a majority of the votes of the Council, and thus postponed its action from year to year.

The acceptance of the "Interim" was resisted both by Catholics and Protestants. Charles V. used all his arts,--persuasion, threats, armed force,--and succeeded for a short time in compelling a sort of external observance of its provisions. His ambition, now, was to have his son Philip chosen by the Diet as his successor, notwithstanding that Ferdinand of Austria had been elected king in 1530, and had governed during his brother's long absence from Germany. The Protestant Electors, conquered as they were, and abject as many of them had seemed, were not ready to comply; Ferdinand's jealousy was aroused, and the question was in suspense when a sudden and startling event changed the whole face of affairs.


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