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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 1 of 2)

The nuncio was given lengthy instructions


The

_Reichsregiment_ met with the Diet at Nuernberg in 1522-1523, and to this Diet the Pope sent, as nuncio, Francesco Chieregati, Bishop of Terramo, in the kingdom of Naples. The nuncio was given lengthy instructions, which set forth the Pope's opinion of the corruptions in the Church and his intention to cure them, but which demanded the delivery of Luther into the hands of the Roman Curia, and the punishment of priests, monks, and nuns who had broken their vows of celibacy.(316) Chieregati was no sooner in Germany than he understood that it would be impossible for him to get the Pope's demand carried out, and he informed his master of the state of matters. When he met the Diet and presented the papal requests, he was practically answered that Germany had grievances against Rome, and that they would need to be set right ere the Curia could expect to get its behests fulfilled. They intimated that since the Pope had admitted the corruptions in the Church, it was scarcely to be expected that they should blame Luther for having pointed them out. They presented the nuncio with a list of one hundred German grievances against the Roman Curia;(317) and suggested that the most convenient way of settling them would be for the Pope to make over immediately, for the public use of Germany, the German _annates_,(318) and that a German Council should be held on German soil, and within one of the larger German cities.

The practical result of this fencing at the

Diet of 1522, repeated in 1523, was that the progress of the Lutheran movement was not checked. How deeply the people of Germany had drunk in the teaching of Luther may be learnt from the letters of the nuncio to the Curia, and from those of the Archduke Ferdinand to the Emperor. Both use the same expression, that "among a thousand men scarcely one could be found untainted by Lutheran teaching."

Adrian VI. died suddenly after a few months' reign, and the next Pope, Clement VII., a Medici and completely under the influence of the French king, belonged to the old unreforming party, whose only desire was to maintain all the corrupting privileges of the Roman Curia. He selected and sent to Germany, as his nuncio, Lorenzo Campeggio, one of the ablest of Italian diplomatists, to negotiate with the _Reichsregiment_ and the Diet which met at Speyer in 1524.

Campeggio, like his predecessor, found that the German Nation was determinedly hostile to Rome. When he made his official entry into Augsburg, and raised his hands to give the usual benediction to the crowds of people, they received the blessing with open derision. He was so impressed with their attitude, that when he reached Nuernberg he doffed his official robes and entered the town as quietly as possible; indeed he received a message from the authorities asking him "to avoid making the sign of the cross, or using the benediction, seeing how matters then stood." The presence of the Legate seemed to increase the anti-papal zeal of the people. The Pope was openly spoken of as Antichrist. Planitz, the energetic commissary of the Elector of Saxony, reckoned that nearly four thousand people in the city partook of the Sacrament of the Supper in both kinds, and informs us that among them were members of the _Reichsregiment_, and Isabella, Queen of Sweden, the sister of the Emperor.

Yet the experienced Italian diplomatist thought that he could discern signs more favourable to his master than the previous Diet had exhibited. The _Reichsregiment_, which had hitherto shielded the Lutheran movement, had lost the confidence of many classes of people, and was tottering to its fall. It had showed itself unable to enforce the Lands-Peace. It was the princes who had defeated the rising of the Free Nobles under Franz von Sickingen; it was the Swabian League, an association always devoted to the House of Austria, that had crushed the Franconian robber nobles; and both princes and League were irritated at the attempts of the _Reichsregiment_, which had endeavoured to rob them of the fruits of their successes. The cities had been made to bear all the taxation needed to support the central government, and the system of monopolies arising from combinations among the great commercial houses had been threatened. The cities and the capitalists had made a secret agreement with the Emperor, and von Hannart had been sent by the Emperor from Spain to the Diet of 1524 to work along with the towns for the overthrow of the central government. The Diet itself had passed a vote of no confidence in the government. In these troubled waters a crafty fisher might win some success.


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