free ebooks

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

He reached Villach in Carinthia in safety


had completed his arrangements with his German allies and with France early in 1552. The Emperor had retired from Augsburg to Innsbruck. Maurice seized the Pass of Ehrenberg on the nights of May 18th, 19th, and pressed on to Innsbruck, hoping to "run the old fox to earth." Charles escaped by a few hours, and, accompanied by his brother Ferdinand, fled over the Brenner Pass amid a storm of snow and rain. It was the road by which he had entered Germany in fair spring weather when he came in 1530, in the zenith of his power, to settle, as he had confidently expected, the religious difficulties in Germany. He reached Villach in Carinthia in safety, and there waited the issue of events.

The German princes gathered in great numbers at Passau (Aug. 1552) to discuss the position and arrive at a settlement. Maurice was ostensibly the master of the situation, for his troops and those of his wild ally Albert Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Culmbach were in the town, and many a prince felt "as if they had a hare in their breast." His demands for the public good were moderate and statesmanlike. He asked for the immediate release of his father-in-law the Landgrave of Hesse; for a settlement of the religious question on a basis that would be permanent, at a meeting of German princes fairly representative of the two parties--no Council summoned and directed by the Pope would ever give fair-play to the Protestants, he said, nor could they expect to get it from the

Diet where the large number of ecclesiastical members gave an undue preponderance to the Romanist side; and for a settlement of some constitutional questions. The princes present, and with them Ferdinand, King of the Romans, were inclined to accept these demands. But when they were referred to Charles at Villach, he absolutely refused to permit the religious or the constitutional question to be settled by any assembly but the Diet of the Empire. Nothing would move him from his opinion, neither the entreaties of his brother nor his own personal danger. He still counted on the divisions among the Protestants, and believed that he had only to support the "born Elector" of Saxony against the one of his own creation to deprive Maurice of his strength. It may be that Maurice had his own fears, it may be that he was glad to have the opportunity of showing that the "Spaniard" was the one enemy to a lasting peace in Germany. He contented himself with the acquiescence of John Frederick in the permanent loss of the Electorate as arranged at the Peace of Wittenberg (1547).

Charles was then free to come back to Augsburg, where he had the petty satisfaction of threatening the Lutheran preachers who had returned, and of again overthrowing the democratic government of the city. He then went to assume the command of the German army which was opposing the French. His failure to take the city of Metz was followed by his practical abandonment of the direction of the affairs of Germany, which were left in the hands of Ferdinand. The disorders of the time delayed the meeting of the Diet until 1555 (opened Feb. 5th). The Elector and the "born Elector" of Saxony were both dead--John Frederick, worn out by misfortune and imprisonment (March 3rd, 1554), and sympathised with by friends and foes alike; and Maurice, only thirty-two years of age, killed in the moment of victory at Sievershausen (July 9th, 1553).

It was in the summer of 1554 that the Emperor had handed over, in a carefully limited manner, the management of German affairs to his brother Ferdinand, the King of the Romans. The terms of devolution of authority imply that this was done by Charles to avoid the humiliation of being personally responsible for acquiescence in what was to him a hateful necessity, and the confession of failure in his management of Germany from 1530. Everyone recognised that peace was necessary at almost any price, but Ferdinand and the higher ecclesiastical princes shrunk from facing the inevitable. The King of the Romans still cherished some vague hopes of a compromise which would preserve the unity of the mediaeval German Church, and the selfish policy of many of the Protestant princes encouraged him. Elector Joachim of Brandenburg wished the archbishopric of Magdeburg and the bishopric of Halberstadt for his son Sigismund, and declared that he would be content with the _Interim_! Christopher of Wuertemberg cherished similar designs on ecclesiastical properties. Augustus of Saxony, Maurice's brother and successor, wished the bishopric of Meissen. All these designs could be more easily fulfilled if the external unity of the mediaeval Church remained unbroken.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us