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

It was the home of the Welsers and of the Fuggers


summons to the Diet, commanding the Electors, princes, and all the Estates of the Empire to meet at Augsburg on the 8th of April 1530, had been issued when Charles was at Bologna. No threats marred the invitation. The Emperor announced that he meant to leave all past errors to the judgment of the Saviour; that he wished to give a charitable hearing to every man's opinions, thoughts, and ideas; and that his only desire was to secure that all might live under the one Christ, in one Commonwealth, one Church, and one Unity.(333) He left Innsbruck on the 6th of June, and, travelling slowly, reached the bridge on the Lech, a little distance from Augsburg, on the evening of the 15th. There he found the great princes of the Empire, who had been waiting his arrival from two o'clock in the afternoon. They alighted to do him reverence, and he graciously dismounted also, and greeted them with all courtesy. Charles had brought the papal nuncio, Cardinal Campeggio, in his train. Most of the Electors knelt to receive the cardinal's blessing; but John of Saxony stood bolt upright, and refused the proffered benediction.

The procession--one of the most gorgeous Germany had ever seen--was marshalled for the ceremonial entry into the town. The retinues of the Electors were all in their appropriate colours and arms--Saxony, by ancient prescriptive right, leading the van. Then came the Emperor alone, a baldachino carried over his head. He had wished the nuncio and

his brother to ride beside him under the canopy; but the Germans would not suffer it; no Pope's representative was to be permitted to ride shoulder to shoulder with the head of the German Empire entering the most important of his imperial cities.(334)

Augsburg was then at the height of its prosperity. It was the great trading centre between Italy and the Levant and the towns of Northern Europe. It was the home of the Welsers and of the Fuggers, the great capitalists of the later mediaeval Europe. It boasted that its citizens were the equals of princes, and that its daughters, in that age of deeply rooted class distinctions, had married into princely houses. To this day the name of one of its streets--Philippine Welser Strasse--commemorates the wedding of an heiress of the Welsers with an archduke of Austria; and the wall decorations of the old houses attest the ancient magnificence of the city.(335)

At the gates of the town, the clergy, singing _Advenisti __ desiderabilis_, met the procession. All, Emperor, clergy, princes, and their retinues, entered the cathedral. The _Te Deum_ was sung, and the Emperor received the benediction. Then the procession was re-formed, and accompanied Charles to his lodgings in the Bishop's Palace.

There the Emperor made his first attempt on his Lutheran subjects. He invited the Elector of Saxony, George of Brandenburg, Philip of Hesse, and Francis of Lueneburg to accompany him to his private apartments. He told them that he had been informed that they had brought their Lutheran preachers with them to Augsburg, and that he would expect them to keep them silent during the sittings of the Diet. They refused. Then Charles asked them to prohibit controversial sermons. This request was also refused. In the end Charles reminded them that his demand was strictly within the decision of 1526; that the Emperor was lord over the imperial cities; and he promised them that he would appoint the preachers himself, and that there would be no sermons--only the reading of Scripture without comment. This was agreed to. He next asked them to join him in the Corpus Christi procession on the following day. They refused--Philip of Hesse with arguments listened to by Ferdinand with indignation, and by Charles with indifference, probably because he did not understand German. The Emperor insisted. Then old George of Brandenburg stood forth, and told His Majesty that he could not, and would not obey. It was a short, rugged speech, though eminently respectful, and ended with these words, which flew over Germany, kindling hearts as fire lights flax: "Before I would deny my God and His Evangel, I would rather kneel down here before your Majesty and have my head struck off,"--and the old man hit the side of his neck with the edge of his hand. Charles did not need to know German to understand. "Not head off, dear prince, not head off," he said kindly in his Flemish-German (_Nit Kop ab, loever Foerst, nit Kop ab_). Charles walked in procession through the streets of Augsburg on a blazing hot day, stooping under a heavy purple mantle, with a superfluous candle sputtering in his hand; but the evangelical princes remained in their lodgings.(336)

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