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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Marlborough enters Germany


National German Diet, from this time on, was no longer attended by the Emperor and ruling Princes, but only by their official representatives. It was held, permanently, in Ratisbon, and its members spent their time mostly in absurd quarrels about forms. When any important question arose, messengers were sent to the rulers to ask their advice, and so much time was always lost that the Diet was practically useless. The Imperial Court, established by Maximilian I., was now permanently located at Wetzlar, not far from Frankfort, and had become as slow and superannuated as the Diet. The Emperor, in fact, had so little concern with the rest of the Empire, that his title was only honorary; the revenues it brought him were about 13,000 florins annually. The only change which took place in the political organization of Germany, was that in 1692 Ernest Augustus of Hannover (the father of George I. of England) was raised to the dignity of Elector, which increased the whole number of Electors, temporal and spiritual, to nine.

[Sidenote: 1697.]

During the latter half of the seventeenth century, learning, literature and the arts received little encouragement in Germany. At the petty courts there was more French spoken than German, and the few authors of the period--with the exception of Spener, Francke, and other devout religious writers--produced scarcely any works of value. The philosopher, Leibnitz, stands alone as the

one distinguished intellectual man of his age. The upper classes were too French and too demoralized to assist in the better development of Germany, and the lower classes were still too poor, oppressed and spiritless to think of helping themselves. Only in a few States, chief among them Brunswick, Hesse, Saxe-Gotha and Saxe-Weimar, were the Courts on a moderate scale, the government tolerably honest, and the people prosperous.




New European Troubles. --Intrigues at the Spanish Court. --Leopold I. declares War against France. --Frederick I. of Brandenburg becomes King of Prussia. --German States allied with France. --Prince Eugene in Italy. --Operations on the Rhine. --Marlborough enters Germany. --Battle of Blenheim. --Joseph I. Emperor. --Victory of Ramillies. --Battle of Turin. --Victories in Flanders. --Louis XIV. asks for Peace. --Battle of Malplaquet. --Renewed Offer of France. --Stupidity of Joseph I. --Recall of Marlborough. --Karl VI. Emperor. --Peace of Utrecht. --Karl VI.'s Obstinacy. --Prince Eugene's Appeal. --Final Peace. --Loss of Alsatia. --The Kingdom of Sardinia.


The beginning of the new century brought with it new troubles for all Europe, and Germany--since it was settled that her Emperors must be Hapsburgs--was compelled to share in them. In the North, Charles XII. of Sweden and Peter the Great of Russia were fighting for "the balance of power"; in Spain king Charles II. was responsible for a new cause of war, simply because he was the last of the Hapsburgs in a direct line, and had no children! Louis XIV. had married his elder sister and Leopold I. his younger sister; and both claimed the right to succeed him. The former, it is true, had renounced all claim to the throne of Spain when he married, but he put forth his grandson, Duke Philip of Anjou, as the candidate. There were two parties at the Court of Madrid,--the French, at the head of which was Louis XIV.'s ambassador, and the Austrian, directed by Charles II.'s mother and wife. The other nations of Europe were opposed to any division of Spain between the rival claimants, since the possession of even half her territory (which still included Naples, Sicily, Milan and Flanders, besides her enormous colonies in America) would have made either France or Austria too powerful. Charles II., however, was persuaded to make a will appointing Philip of Anjou his successor, and when he died, in 1700, Louis XIV. immediately sent his grandson over the Pyrenees and had him proclaimed as king Philip V. of Spain.

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