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

Went inveighing against the Interim

however, was proud of his creed,

and did his best to enforce it. The Diet of 1548 showed him his difficulties. The _Interim_ was accepted and proclaimed as an edict by this Diet (May 15), but only after the Emperor, very unwillingly, declared practically that it was meant for the Protestants alone. "The Emperor," said a member of the Diet, "is fighting for religion against the Pope, whom he acknowledges to be its head, and against the two parts of Christendom in Germany--the mass of the Protestants and the ecclesiastical princes." Thus from the beginning what was to be an instrument to unite German Christendom was transformed into a "strait-waistcoat for the Lutherans"; and this did not make it more palatable for them. At first the strong measures taken by the Emperor compelled its nominal acceptance by many of the Protestant princes.(366) The cities which seemed to be most refractory had their Councils purged of their democratic members, and their Lutheran preachers sent into banishment--Matthew Alber from Reutlingen, Wolfgang Musculus from Augsburg, Brenz from Hall, Osiander from Nuernberg, Schnepf from Tuebingen. Bucer and Fagius had to flee from Strassburg and take refuge in England. The city of Constance was besieged and fell after a heroic defence; it was deprived of its privileges as an imperial city, and was added to the family possessions of the House of Austria. Its pastor, Blarer, was sent into banishment. Four hundred Lutheran divines were driven from their homes.


Charles, backed by his Spanish and Italian troops, could secure a nominal submission to his _Interim_, he could not coerce the people into accepting it. The churches stood empty in Augsburg, in Ulm, and in other cities. The people met it by an almost universal passive resistance--if singing doggerel verses in mockery of the _Interim_ may be called passive. When the Emperor ordered Duke Christopher of Wuertemberg to drive Brenz out of his refuge in his State, the Duke answered him that he could not banish his whole population. The popular feeling, as is usual in such cases, found vent in all manner of satirical songs, pamphlets, and even catechisms. As in the times before the Peasants' War, this coarse popular literature had an immense circulation. Much of it took the form of rude broadsides with a picture, generally satirical, at the top, and the song, sometimes with the music score, printed below.(367) Wandering preachers, whom no amount of police supervision could check, went inveighing against the _Interim_, distributing the rude literature through the villages and among the democracy in the towns. Soon the creed and the edict which enforced it became practically a dead letter throughout the greater part of Germany.

The presence of the Emperor's Spanish troops on the soil of the Fatherland irritated the feelings of Germans, whether Romanists or Protestants; the insolence and excesses of these soldiers stung the common people; and their employment to enforce the hated _Interim_ on the Protestants was an additional insult. The citizens of one imperial city were told that if they did not accept the _Interim_ they must be taught theology by Spanish troops, and of another that they would yet learn to speak the language of Spain. While the popular odium against Charles was slowly growing in intensity, he contrived to increase it by a proposal that his son Philip should have the imperial crown after his brother Ferdinand. Charles' own election had been caused by a patriotic sentiment. The people thought that a German was better than a Frenchman, and they had found out too late that they had not got a German but a Spaniard. Ferdinand had lived in Germany long enough to know its wants, and his son Maximilian had shown that he possessed many qualities which appealed to the German character. The proposal to substitute Philip, however natural from Charles' point of view, and consistent with his earlier idea that the House of Hapsburg should have one head, meant to the Germans to still further "hispaniolate" Germany. This unpopularity of Charles among all ranks and classes of Germans grew rapidly between 1548 and 1552; and during the same years his foreign prestige was fast waning. He remained in Germany, with the exception of a short visit to the Netherlands; but in spite of his presence the anarchy grew worse and worse. The revolt which came might have arisen much sooner had the Protestants been able to overcome their hatred and suspicion of Maurice of Saxony, whose co-operation was almost essential. It is unnecessary to describe the intrigues which went on around the Emperor, careless though not unforewarned.

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