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Exhaustion soon compelled the combatants to come to terms, and greatly to the disadvantage of the cities peace was made in 1389. The main result of this struggle was everywhere to strengthen the power of the princes and to incite them to fresh acts of aggression. During the same time the Hanse towns were passing through a period of difficulty. They were disturbed by democratic movements in many of the cities and they were threatened by the changing politics of the three northern kingdoms, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and by their union in 1397; their trading successes had raised up powerful enemies and had embroiled them with England and with Flanders, and the Teutonic Order and neighbouring princes were not slow to take advantage of their other difficulties. Towards the close of the century the discontent felt at the incompetent and absent German king took a decided form. The movement was led by the four Rhenish electors,
: and after some preliminary proceedings these princes &lag. met in August 14oo; having declared Wenceslaus
dethroned they chose one of their number, the elector palatine Rupert III., in his stead, and the deposed monarch accepted the sentence almost without demur. Rupert was an excellent elector, and under more favourable circumstances would have made a good king, but so serious were the jealousies and divisions in the kingdom that he found little scope for his energies outside the Palatinate. In spite of the peace of 1389 the cities had again begun to form leagues for peace; but, having secured a certain amount of recognition in the south and west of Germany, the new king turned aside from the pressing problems of government and in 14or made a futile attempt to reach Rome, an enterprise which covered him with ridicule. After his return to Germany he had to face the hostility of many of the princes, and this contest, together with vain attempts to restore order, occupied him until his death in May 141o. After's Rupert's death two cousins, Jobst, margrave of Moravia, and Sigismund, king of Hungary, were in the autumn of 141o both chosen to fill the vacant throne by oppos
#: ing parties; and the position was further complicated &lag. by the fact that the deposed king, Wenceslaus, was still alive. Jobst, however, died in January 1411,
and in the succeeding July Sigismund, having come to terms with Wenceslaus, was again elected king and was generally recognized. The commanding questions of this reign were ecclesiastical. It was the age of the great schism, three popes claiming the allegiance of Christendom, and of the councils of Constance and of Basel; in all ranks of the Church there was an urgent cry for reform. Unfortunately the council of Constance, which met mainly through the efforts of Sigismund in 1414, marred its labours by the judicial murders of John Huss and of Jerome of Prague. This act greatly incensed the Bohemians, who broke into revolt in 1419, and a new and fiercer outburst occurred in 1420 when Sigismund, who had succeeded his brother Wenceslaus as king of Bohemia in the preceding August, announced his intention of crushing the Hussites. Led by their famous general, John Zizka, the Bohemians won several battles and spread havoc and terror through the neighbouring German lands. During the progress of this revolt Germany was so divided and her king was so poor that it was impossible to collect an army of sufficient strength to crush the malcontents. At the diet of Nuremberg in 1422 and at that of Frankfort in 1427 Sigismund endeavoured to raise men and money by means of contributions from the estates, but the plan failed owing to mutual jealousies and especially to the resistance of the cities. He secured some help from Frederick of Brandenburg, from Albert of Austria, afterwards the German king Albert II., and from Frederick of Meissen, to whom he granted the electoral duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg; but it was only when the Hussites were split into two factions, and when Zizka was dead, that Germany was in any way relieved from a crushing and intolerable burden. The continual poverty which hindered the successful prosecution of the war against the Hussites, and which at times placed Sigismund in the undignified position of having to force himself
as an unwelcome guest upon princes and cities, had, however, one good result. In 1415 he granted, or rather sold, the mark of Brandenburg to his friend Frederick of Hohen- a...a... zollern, burgrave of Nuremberg, this land thus passing £g into the hands of the family under whom it was des- the Hohentined to develop into the kingdom of Prussia. During ** this reign the princes, especially the electors, continued their endeavours to gain a greatershare in the government of Germany, and to some extent they succeeded. Sigismund, on his part, tried to enforce peace upon the country by forming leagues of the cities, but to no purpose; in fact all his plans for reform came to nothing. Sigismund, who died in December 1437, was succeeded on the German throne and also in Hungary and Bohemia by his son-in-law Albert of Austria, and from this time, although remaining in theory elective, the German crown was always conferred upon a member of the house of Habsburg until the extinction of the male line of this family in 1740. The reign of Albert II. was too short to enable him to do more than indicate his good intentions; he acted in general with the electors in observing a neutral attitude with regard to the dispute between the council of Basel and Pope Eugenius IV., and he put forward a scheme to improve the administration of justice. He died in October 1439, and was succeeded by his kinsman Frederick, duke of Styria, who became German king as Frederick IV. and, after his coronation at Rome in 1452, emperor as Frederick III. The first concern of the new king was with the papal schism. The council of Basel was still sitting, and had elected an anti-pope, Felix V., in opposition to Eugenius IV., while the Frederick electors, adhering to their neutral attitude, sought III. and to bring Frederick into line with them on this question. * Some years were occupied in negotiations, but the Papacy. king soon showed himself anxious to cometoterms with Eugenius, and about 1446 the electors ceased to act together. At length peace was made. The consent of several of the electors having been purchased by concessions, Frederick signed with Pope Nicholas W., the successor of Eugenius, in February 1448 the concordat of Vienna, an arrangement which bound the German Church afresh to Rome and perpetuated the very evils from which earnest churchmen had been seeking deliverance. Thus Germany lost the opportunity of reforming the Church from within, and the upheaval of the 16th century was rendered inevitable. Frederick's reign is one of great importance in the history of Austria and of the house of Habsburg, but under him the fortunes of Germany sank to the lowest possible point. Without any interference from the central authority wars were £r waged in every part of the country, and disputes of £e. every kind were referred to the decision of the sword. The old enmity between the cities and the princes blazed out afresh; grievances of every kind were brought forward and many struggles were the result. Perhaps the most famous of these was one between a confederation of Franconian and Swabian cities under the leadership of Nuremberg on the one side, and Albert Achilles, afterwards elector of Brandenburg, and a number of princes on the other. The war was carried on with great barbarity for about four years (1449–1453), and was in every respect a critical one. If the cities had gained the day they might still have aimed at balancing the power of the princes, but owing partly to their imperfect union, partly to the necessity of fighting with hired troops, they did not gain any serious advantage. On the whole, indeed, in spite of temporary successes, they decidedly lost ground, and on the conclusion of peace there was no doubt that the balance of power in the state inclined to the princes. Frederick meanwhile was involved in wars with the Swiss, with his brother Albert and his Austrian subjects, and later with the Hungarians. He had no influence in Italy; in Burgundy he could neither stop Duke Philip the Good from adding Luxemburg to his possessions, nor check the towering ambition of Charles the Bold; while after the death of Charles in 1477 he was equally unable to prevent the king of
France from seizing a large part of his lands. Torn by dissensions the Teutonic Order was unsuccessful in checking the encroachments of the Poles, and in 1466 the land which it had won in the north-east of Germany passed under the suzerainty of Poland, care being taken to root out all traces of German influence therein. Another loss took place in 1460, when Schleswig and Holstein were united with Denmark. In Germany itself the king made scarcely any pretence of exercising the supreme authority; for nearly thirty years he never attended the imperial diet, and the suggestions which were made for his deposition failed only because the electors could not agree upon a successor. In his later years he became more of a recluse than ever, and even before February 1486, when his son Maximilian was chosen German king, he had practically ceased to take any part in the business of the Empire, although he survived until August 1493. During the reign of Frederick the electors and the greater princes continued the process of consolidating and increasing The their power. Lands under their rule, which were :*" technically imperial fiefs, were divided and devised Princes by them at will like other forms of private property; they had nearly all the rights of a sovereign with regard to levying tolls, coining money, administering justice and granting privileges to towns; they were assisted in the work of government by a privy council, while their courts with their numerous officials began to resemble that of the king or emperor. They did not, however, have everything their own way. During this century their power was limited by the formation of diets in many of the principalities. These bodies were composed of the mediate prelates, the mediate nobles and representatives of the mediate cities. They were not summoned because the princes desired their aid, but because arms could only be obtained from the nobles and money from the cities, at least on an adequate scale. Once having been formed these local diets soon extended their functions. They claimed the right of sanctioning taxation; they made their voice heard about the expenditure of public money; they insisted, although perhaps not very effectually, on justice being administered. Such institutions as these were clearly of the highest importance, and for two centuries they did something to atone for the lack of a genuine monarchy. During this reign the conditions of warfare began to change. The discovery of gunpowder made small bodies of men, adequately armed, more than a match for great forces
: equipped in medieval fashion. Hence the custom of fare, hiring mercenary troops was introduced, and a prince
could never be certain, however numerous his vassals might be, that the advantage would not rest with his opponent. This fact, added to the influence of the local diets, made even the princes weary of war, and a universal and continuous demand arose for some reform of the machinery of government. Partly at the instance of the emperor a great Swabian confederation was formed in 1488. This consisted of both princes and cities and was intended to enforce the public peace in the southwestern parts of Germany. Its effects were excellent; but obviously no partial remedy was sufficient. It was esscntial that there should be some great reform which would affect every part of the kingdom, and for the present this was not to be secured. Maximilian came to the throne in 1486 with exceptional advantages. He was heir to the extensive Austrian lands, and as the widowed husband of Charles the Bold's daughter Mary he administered the Netherlands. Although he soon gave up these provinces to his son Philip, the fact that they were in the possession of his family added to his influence, and this was further increased when Philip married Joanna, the heiress of the Spanish kingdoms. From Maximilian's accession the Empire exercised in the affairs of Europe an authority which had not belonged to it for centuries. The reason for this was not that the Empire was stronger, but that its crown was worn by a succession of princes who were great sovereigns in their own right. Having in 1490 driven the Hungarians from Vienna and recovered his hereditary lands, and having ordered the affairs of the Netherlands, Maximilian turned his attention to Italy,
whither he was drawn owing to the invasion of that country by Charles VIII. of France in 1494. But before he could take any steps to check the progress of Charles pecuniary neces- Reforms sities compelled him to meet the diet. At this time the in German, or imperial, diet consisted of three colleges, £r. one of the electors, another of the princes, both spiritual and secular, and a third of representatives of the free cities, who had, however, only just gained the right to sit beside the other two estates. The diet was an extremely clumsy instrument of government, and it was perhaps never more discredited or more impotent than when it met Maximilian at Worms in March 1495. But in spite of repeated rebuffs the party of reform was valorous and undaunted; its members knew that their case was overwhelmingly strong. Although disappointed in the hope which they had nourished until about 1490 that Maximilian himself would lead them, they had found a capable head in Bertold, elector of Mainz. The king lost no time in acquainting the diet with his demands. He wished for men and money to encounter the French in Italy and to resist the Turks. Bertold retorted that redress of grievances must precede supply, and Maximilian and the princes were soon discussing the proposals put forward by the sagacious elector. His first suggestion that a council nominated by the estates should be set up with the power of vetoing the acts of the king was abandoned because of the strenuous opposition of Maximilian; but Bertold was successful in getting the diet to proclaim an eternal Landfriede, that is, to forbid private war without any limitation of time, and it was agreed that the diet should meet annually to advise the king on matters of moment. The idea of a council, however, was not given up although it took a different form. An imperial court of justice, the Reichskammergericht, was established; this consisted of sixteen members nominated by the estates and a president appointed by the king. Its duties were to judge between princes of the Empire and to act as the supreme court of appeal in cases where humbler persons were concerned. Partly to provide for the expenses of this court, partly to furnish Maximilian with the promised monetary aid, a tax called the common penny was instituted, this impost taking the form both of a property tax and of a poll tax. Such in outline were the reforms effected by the important diet of Worms. The practical difficulties of the reformers, however, were only just beginning. Although Maximilian took some interest in the collection of the common penny it was difficult, Dimand from some classes impossible, to obtain payment culties and of this tax, and the king was persistently hostile to *r the imperial court of justice, his hostility and the want" of money being indeed successful in preventing that institution for a time from doing any real service to Germany. In 1497 he set up a new Aulic council or Hofrat, the members of which were chosen by himself, and to this body he gave authority to deal with all the business of the Empire. Thus he undermined the foundations of the Reichskammergericht and stole a march upon Bertold and his friends. A series of diets between 1495 and 1499 produced only mutual recriminations, and then Maximilian met with a serious rebuff. The Swiss refused to pay the common penny and to submit to the jurisdiction of the imperial court of justice. Consequently, in 1499, Maximilian sent such troops as he could collect against them, but his forces were beaten, and by the peace of Basel he was forced to concede all the demands made by the Swiss, who became virtually independent of the Empire. Heartened by this circumstance Bertold and his followers returned to the attack when the diet met at Augsburg in 15oo. The common penny as a means of taxation fell into the background, and in its place a scheme was accepted which it was thought would provide the king with an army of about 30,000 men. But more important perhaps was the administrative council, or Reichsregiment, which was established by the diet at this time. A revival of the idea put forward by the elector of Mainz at Worms in 1495, this council was to consist of twenty members appointed by the electors and other princes and by representatives of the cities, with a president named by the king. Its work was practically that of governing Germany, and it was the most considerable encroachment which had yet been made on the power of the king. It is not surprising therefore that Maximilian hated the new body, to the establishment of which he had only consented under great pressure. In 15oo the Reichsregiment met at Nuremberg and began at once to treat for peace with France. Maximilian was not slow to resent this interference; he refused to appoint
Maxi- - - -
2: a president, and soon succeeded in making the meetings Bampers of the council impossible. The relations between : fs, the king and the princes were now very strained.
Bertold called the electors together to decide upon a plan of campaign; Maximilian on his part tried to destroy the electoral union by winning over individual members. The result was that when the elector of Mainz died in 1504 the king's victory was complete. The Reichskammergericht and the Reichsregiment were for all practical purposes destroyed, and greater authority had been given to the Hofrat. Henceforward it was the king who put forward schemes of reform and the diet which modified or rejected them. When the diet met at Cologne in 1505 Maximilian asked for an army and the request was granted, the necessary funds being raised by the old plan of a levy on the estates. At Constance, two years later, the diet raised men and money in a similar fashion, and on this occasion the imperial court of justice was restored, with some slight alteration in the method of appointing its members. After Maximilian had taken the novel step of assuming the title of Roman emperor at Trent in 1508 the last of the reforming diets met at Cologne in 1512. In 1500 Germany had been divided into six circles (Kreisc) or districts, for the purpose of sending representatives to the Reichsregiment. These circles were now increased in number to ten and an official (Hauptmann) was placed over each, his duties being to enforce the decisions of the Reichskammergericht. But it was some time before the circles came into working order; the only permanent reform of the reign was the establishment of the imperial court of justice, and even this was not entirely satisfactory, Maximilian's remaining diets loudly denouncing it for delay and incompetence. The period marked by the attempted reform of Bertold of Mainz was that of the last struggle between the supporters of a united Germany and those who preferred a loose confederation of states. Victory remained with the latter party. Maximilian himself had done a great deal to promote the unity of his Austrian lands and, incidentally, to cut them off from the remainder of the German kingdom, and other princes were following his example. This movement spelled danger to the small principalities and to the free cities, but it gave a powerful impetus to the growth of Brandenburg, of Saxony, of Bavaria and of the Palatinate, and the future of the country seemed likely to remain with the particularist and not with the national idea. During the period of these constitutional struggles the king's chief energies were spent in warring against the French kings Charles VIII. and Louis XII. in Italy, where he hoped
£'. to restore the claims, dormant, perhaps even extinct,
#: * of the German kings. In 1508 he helped to promote *
the league of Cambrai, formed to despoil Venice, but he soon returned to his former policy of waging war against France, and he continued to do this until peace was made in 1516. The princes of Germany showed themselves singularly indifferent to this struggle, and their king's battles were largely fought with mercenary troops. Maximilian gained his most conspicuous success in his own kingdom in 1504, when he interfered in a struggle over the succession to the duchy of Bavaria-Landshut. He gained some additions of territory, but his victory was more important because it gave him the prestige which enabled him to break down the opposition of the princes and to get his own way with regard to his domestic policy. In many respects the reign of Maximilian must be regarded as the end of the middle ages. The feudal relation between the king and the princes and between the princes and their vassals had become purely nominal. No real control was exerted by the
crown over the heads of the various states, and, now that war was carried on mainly by mercenary troops, the mediate nobles did not hold their lands on condition of military service. The princes were sovereigns, not merely feudal lords; :* and by the institution of local diets in their territories "reas. an approach was made to modern conceptions of government. The age of war was far indeed from being over, but men were at least beginning to see that unnecessary bloodshed is an evil, and that the true outlet for the mass of human energies is not conflict but industry. By the growth of the cities in social, if not in political, importance the products of labour were more and more widely diffused; and it was easier than at any previous time for the nation to be moved by common ideas and impulses. The discovery of America, the invention of printing, the revival of learning and many other causes had contributed to effect a radical change in the point of view from which the world was regarded; and the strongest of all medieval relations, that of the nation to the Church, was about to pass through the fiery trial of the Reformation. This vast movement, which began in the later years of Maximilian, definitely severed the medieval from the modern world. The seeds of the Reformation were laid during the time of the great conflict between the Papacy and the Empire. The arrogance and the ambition of the popes then stamped upon the minds of the people an impression that was :never effaced. During the struggle of Louis IV. with the popes of his day the feeling revived with fresh intensity; all classes, clerical as well as lay, looked upon resistance to papal pretensions as a necessity imposed by the national honour. At the same time the spiritual teaching of the mystics awakened in many minds an aspiration which the Church, in its corrupt state, could not satisfy, and which was in any case unfavourable to an external authority. The Hussite movement further weakened the spell of the Church. Still more powerful, because touching other elements of human nature and affecting a more important class, was the influence of the Renaissance, which, towards the end of the 15th century, passed from Italy to the universities of Germany. The men of the new learning did not sever themselves from Christianity, but they became indifferent to it; its conceptions seemed to them dim and faded, while there was a constantly increasing charm in literature, in philosophy and in art. No kind of effort was made by the Church to prepare for the storm. The spiritual princes, besides displaying all the faults of the secular princes, had special defects of their own; and as simqny was universally practised, the lives of multitudes of the inferior clergy were a public scandal, while their services were cold and unimpressive. The moral sense was outraged by such a pope as Alexander VI.; and neither the military ambition of Julius II. nor the refined paganism of Leo X. could revive the decaying faith in the spirituality of their office. Pope Leo, by his incessant demands for money and his unscrupulous methods of obtaining it, awakened bitter hostility in every class of the community. The popular feeling for the first time found expression when Luther, on All Saints' day 1517, nailed to a church door in Wittenberg the thesesin which he contested the doctrine Luther which lay at the root of the scandalous traffic in in- • dulgences carried on in the pope's name by Tetzel and his like. This episode, derided at first at Rome as the act of an obscure Augustinian friar intent on scoring a point in a scholastic disputation, was in reality an event of vast significance, for it brought to the front, as the exponent of the national sentiment, one of the mightiest spirits whom Germany has produced. Under the influence of Luther's strong personality the most active and progressive elements of the nation were soon in more or less open antagonism to the Papacy. When Maximilian died in January 1519 his throne was competed for by his grandson Charles, king of Spain, and by Francis I. of France, and after a long and costly contest the former was chosen in the following June. By the time Charles reached Germany and was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle (October 1520) Luther had confronted the cardinal legate Cajetan, had passed through his famous controversy at Leipzig with Johann Eck, and was about to burn the bull of excommunication. After this daring step retreat was impossible, and with keen excitement both the reformer's followers and his enemies waited for the new sovereign to declare himself on one side or on the other. Charles soon made up his mind about the general lines of his policy, although he was completely ignorant of the strength of the feeling which had been aroused. He fancied that he had to deal with a mere monkish quarrel; at one time he even imagined that a little money would set the difficulty at rest. It was not likely, however, in any case that he would turn against the Roman Church, and that for various reasons. He was by far the most important ruler of the time, and the peoples under his direct sway were still adherents of the old faith. He was king of Spain, of Sicily, of Naples and of Sardinia; he was lord of the Netherlands, of the free county of Burgundy and of the Austrian archduchies; he had at his command the immense resources of the New World; and he had been chosen king of Germany, thus gaining a title to the imperial crown. Following the example set by Maximilian he called himself emperor without waiting for the formality of a coronation at Rome. Now the protection of the Church had always been regarded as one of the chief functions of the emperors; Charles could not, therefore, desert it when it was so greatly in need of his services. Like his predecessors he reserved to himself the right to resist it in the realm of politics; in the realm of faith he considered that he owed to it his entire allegiance. Moreover, he intended to undertake the subjugation of northern Italy, a task which had baffled his imperial grandfather, and in order to realize this scheme it was of the highest importance that he should do nothing to offend the pope. Thus it came about that at the diet of Worms, which met in January 1521, without any thorough examination of Luther's position, Charles issued the famous edict, drawn up by Cardinal Aleandro, which denounced the reformer and his followers. This was accepted by the diet and Luther was placed under the imperial ban. When Charles was chosen German king he was obliged to make certain promises to the electors. Embodied in a Wahlkapitulation, as it was called, these were practically
Charles V. and Luther.
Charles - - - -
and the the conditions on which the new sovereign was allowed rnovo- to take the crown, and the precedent was followed : at subsequent elections. At the diet of Worms steps
were taken to carry these promises into effect. By his Wahlkapitulation Charles had promised to respect the freedom of Germany, for the princes looked upon him as a foreigner. He was neither to introduce foreign troops into the country, nor to allow a foreigner to command German soldiers; he must use the German language and every diet must meet on German soil. An administrative council, a new Reichsregiment, must be established, and other reforms were to be set on foot. The constitution and powers of this Reichsregiment were the chief subject of difference between Charles and the princes at the diet. Eventually it was decided that this council should consist of twenty-two members with a president named by the emperor; but it was only to govern Germany during the absence of the sovereign, at other times its functions were merely advisory. The imperial chamber was restored on the lines laid down by Bertold of Mainz in 1495 (it survived until the dissolution of the Empire in 1806), and the estates undertook to aid the emperor by raising and paying an army. In April 1521 Charles invested his brother Ferdinand, afterwards the emperor Ferdinand I., with the Austrian archduchies, and soon afterwards he left Germany to renew his long struggle with Francis I. of France. While the emperor was thus absent great disturbances took £ in Germany. Among Luther's friends was one, Ulrich von utten, at once penetrated with the spirit of the Renaissance and emphatically a man of action. The class to which Hutten and his friend, Franz von Sickingen, a daring and ambitious Rhenish baron, belonged, was that of the small feudal tenants in chief, the
Ritterschaft or knights of the Empire. This class was subject only to the emperor, but its members lacked the territorial possessions which gave power to the princes; they were Sicki partly deprived of their employment owing to the :suppression of private wars, and they had suffered rising. through the substitution of Roman law for the ancient feudal laws and customs. They had no place in the constitution or in the government of Germany, and they had already paralysed the administration by refusing to pay the taxes. They were intensely jealous of the princes, and it occurred to Hutten and Sickingen that the Reformation might be used to improve the condition of the knights and to effect a lotal change in the constitution of the Empire. No general reform, they maintained, either in church or state, could be secured while the country was divided into a number of principalities, and their plan was to combine with all those who were discontented with the existing order to attack the princes and to place the emperor at the head of a united nation. Sickingen, who has been compared to Wallenstein, and who doubtless hoped to secure a great position for himself, had already collected a large army, which by its very presence had contributed somewhat to the election of Charles at Frankfort in 1519. He had also earned renown by carrying on feuds with the citizens of Worms and of Metz, and now, with a view to realizing his larger ambitions, he opened the campaign (August 1522) by attacking the elector of Trier, who, as a spiritual prince, would not, it was hoped, receive any help from the religious reformers. For a moment it seemed as if Hutten's dream would be realized, but it was soon evident that it was too late to make so great a change. Luther and other persons of influence stood aloof from the movement; on the other hand, several princes, including Philip, landgrave of Hesse, united their forces against the knights, and in May 1523 Sickingen was defeated and slain. A few weeks later Hutten died on an island in the lake of Zürich. This war was followed by another of a much more serious nature. The German peasants had grievances compared with which those of the knights and lesser barons were ra. imaginary. For about a century several causes had causes tended to make their condition worse and worse. of the * While taxes and other burdens were increasing the :* power of the king to protect them was decreasing; • with or without the forms of law they were plundered by every other class in the community; their traditional privileges were withdrawn and, as in the case of the knights, their position had suffered owing to the introduction of Roman law into Germany. In the west and south-west of the country especially, opportunities of migration and of expansion had been gradually reduced, and to provide for their increasing numbers they were compelled to divide their holdings again and again until these patches of land became too small for the support of a household. Thus, solely under the influence of social and economic conditions, various risings of the peasants had taken place during the latter part of the 15th century, the first one being in 1461, and at times the insurgents had combined their forces with those of the lower classes in the towns, men whose condition was hardly more satisfactory than their own. In the last decade of the 15th and the first decade of the 16th century there were several insurrections in the south-west of Germany, each of which was called a Bundschuh, a shoe fastened upon a pole serving as the standard of revolt. In 1514 Württemberg was disturbed by the rising of “poor Conrad,” but these and other similar revolts in the neighbourhood were suppressed by the princes. These movements, however, were only preludes to the great revolution, which is usually known as the Peasants' War (Bauernkrieg). The Renaissance and the Reformation were awakening extravagant hopes in the minds of the German peasants, and it is still a matter of controversy among historians to what e extent Luther and the reformers were responsible for £sants' their rising. It may, however, be stated with some War. certainty that their condition was sufficiently wretched to drive them to revolt without any serious pressure from outside. The rising was due primarily neither to religious nor topolitical, but to economic causes. The Peasants' War, properly so called, broke out at Stühlingen in June 1522. The insurgents found a leader in Hans Müller of Bulgenbach, who gained some support in the surrounding towns, and soon all Swabia was in revolt. Quickly the insurrection became general all over central and southern Germany. In the absence of the emperor and of his brother, the archduke Ferdinand, the authorities in these parts of the country were unable to check the movement and, aided by many knights, prominent among whom was Götz von Berlichingen, the peasahts were everywhere victorious, while another influential recruit, Ulrich, the dispossessed duke of Württemberg, joined them in the hope of recovering his duchy. Ulrich's attempt, which was made early in 1525, was, however, a failure, and about the same time the peasants drew up twelve articles embodying their demands. These were sufficiently moderate. They asked for a renewal of their ancient rights of fishing and hunting freely, for a speedier method of obtaining justice, and for the removal of new and heavy burdens. In many places the lords yielded to these demands, among those who granted concessions being the elector palatine of the Rhine, the bishops of Bamberg and of Spires, and the abbots of Fulda and of Hersfeld. But meanwhile the movement was spreading through Franconia to northern Germany and was especially formidable in Thuringia, where it was led by Thomas Münzer. Here again success attended the rebel standards. But soon the victorious peasants became so violent and so destructive that Luther himself urged that they should be sternly punished, and a number of princes, prominent among whom was Philip of Hesse, banded themselves together to crush the rising. Münzer and his followers were defeated at Frankenhausen in May, the Swabian League gained victories in the area under its control, successes were gained elsewhere by the princes, and with much cruelty the revolt of the peasants was suppressed. The general result was that the power of the territorial lords became greater than ever, although in some cases, especially in Tirol and in Baden, the condition of the peasants was somewhat improved. Elsewhere, however, this was not the case; many of the peasants suffered still greater oppression and some of the immediate nobles were forced to submit to a detested yoke.
Before the suppression of this rising the Reichsregiment had.
met with very indifferent success in its efforts to govern Germany. Meeting at Nuremberg early in 1522 it voted some :- slight assistance for the campaign against the invading *:eat. Turks, but the proposals put forward for raising the necessary funds aroused much opposition, an opposition which came mainly from the large and important cities. The citizens appealed to Charles V., who was in Spain, and after some hesitation the emperor decided against the Reichsregiment. Under such disheartening conditions it is not surprising that this body was totally unable to cope with Sickingen's insurrection, and that a few weeks after its meeting at Nuremberg in 1524 it succumbed to a series of attacks and disappeared from the history of Germany. But the Reichsregiment had taken one step, although this was of a negative character. It had shown some sympathy with the reformers and had declined to put the edict of Worms into immediate execution. Hardly less lukewarm, the imperial diet ordered the edict to be enforced, but only as far as possible, and meanwhile the possibilities of accommodation between the two great religious parties were becoming more and more remote. A national assembly to decide the questions at issue was announced to meet at Spires, but the emperor forbade this gathering. Then the Romanists, under the guidance of Cardinal Campeggio and the archduke Ferdinand, met at Regensburg and decided to take strong and aggressive measures to destroy Lutheranism, while, on the other hand, representatives of the cities met at Spires and at Ulm, and asserted their intention of forwarding and protecting the teaching of the reformed doctrines. All over the country and through all classes of the people men were falling into line on one side or the other, and everything was thus ready for a long and bitter religious war. During these years the religious and political ideas of the Reformation were rapidly gaining ground, and, aided by a
vigorous and violent polemic literature, opposition to Rome was growing on every side. Instigated by George of Saxony the Romanist princes formed a defensive league at Dessau in 1525; the reforming princes took a similar step at Porres, Gotha in 1526. Such were the prevailing conditions of the when the diet met at Spires in June 1526 and those Reformswho were still loyal to the Roman Church clamoured ". for repressive measures. But on this occasion the reformers were decidedly in the ascendant. Important ecclesiastical reforms were approved, and instructions forbidding all innovations and calling upon the diet to execute the edict of Worms, sent by the emperor from Spain, were brushed aside on the ground that in the preceding March when this letter was written Charles and the pope were at peace, while now they were at war. Before its dissolution the diet promulgated a decree providing that, pending the assembly of a national council, each prince should order the ecclesiastical affairs of his own state in accordance with his own conscience, a striking victory for the reformers and incidentally for separatist ideas. The three years which elapsed between this diet and another important diet which met in the same city are full of incident. Guided by Luther and Melanchthon, the principal states and cities in which the ideas of the reformers prevailed—electoral Saxony, Brandenburg, Hesse and the Rhenish Palatinate, Strassburg, Nuremberg, Ulm and Augsburg-began to carry out measures of church reform. The Romanists saw the significance of this movement and, fortunately for them, were able to profit by the dissensions which were breaking out in the ranks of their opponents, especially the doctrinal differences between the followers of Luther and those of Zwingli. Persecutions for heresy had begun, the feeling between the two great religious parties being further embittered by some revelations made by Otto von Pack (q.v.) to Philip of Hesse. Pack's stories, which concerned the existence of a powerful league for the purpose of making war upon the reformers, were proved to be false, but the soreness occasioned thereby remained. The diet met in February 1529 and soon received orders from the emperor to repeal the decree of 1526. The supporters of the older faith were now predominant and, although they were inclined to adopt a somewhat haughty attitude towards Charles, they were not averse from taking strong measures against the reformers. The decree of the diet, formulated in April, forbade the reformers to make further religious changes, while the toleration which was conceded to Romanists in Lutheran states was withheld from Lutherans in Romanist states. This decree was strongly resented by the reforming princes and cities. They drew up a formal protest against it (hence the name “Protestant"), which they presented to the archduke Ferdinand, setting forward the somewhat novel theory that the decree of 1526 could not be annulled by a succeed. ing dict unless both the parties concerned assented thereto. By this decree they declared their firm intention to abide. The untiring efforts of Philip of Hesse to unite the two wings of the Protestant forces met with very little success, and the famous conference at Marburg in the autumn of 1529,
for which he was responsible, revealed the fact that it : was practically impossible for the Lutherans and the our.
Zwinglians to act together even when threatened by
a common danger, while a little later the alliance between the Lutheran states of north Germany and the Zwinglian cities of the south was destroyed by differences upon points of doctrine. In 1530 the emperor, flushed with success in Italy and at peace with his foreign foes, came to Germany with the express intention of putting an end to heresy. In June he opened the diet at Augsburg, and here the Lutherans submitted a summary of their doctrines, afterwards called the Augsburg Confession. Brawn up by Melanchthon, this pronouncement was intended to widen the breach between the Lutherans and the Zwinglians, and to narrow that between the Lutherans and the Romanists; from this time it was regarded as the chief standard of the Lutheran faith. Four Zwinglian cities, Strassburg, Constance, Lindau and Memmingen, replied with a confession of their own and the Romanists also drew up an answer. The period of