As to King Sigismund, he was patient with it to a degree; made the friendliest paternal professions;—testifying withal, That the claim was undeniable; and could by him, Sigismund, never be foregone with the least shadow of honor, and of course never would: "My dear Nephew can consider whether his dissolute, vain-minded, half-heretical Ritterdom, nay whether this Prussian fraction of it, is in a condition to take Poland by the beard in an unjust quarrel; or can hope to do Tannenberg over again in the reverse way, by Beelzehub's help?"—
For seven years, Albert held out in this intermediate state, neither peace nor war; moving Heaven and Earth to raise supplies, that he might be able to defy Poland, and begin war. The Reich answers, "We have really nothing for you." Teutschmeister answers again and again, "I tell you we have nothing!" In the end, Sigismund grew impatient; made (December, 1519) some movements of a hostile nature. Albert did not yield; eager only to procrastinate till he were ready. By superhuman efforts, of borrowing, bargaining, soliciting, and galloping to and fro, Albert did, about the end of next year, get up some appearance of an Army: "14,000 German mercenaries horse and foot," so many in theory; who, to the extent of 8,000 in actual result, came marching towards him (October, 1520); to serve "for eight months." With these he will besiege Dantzig, besiege Thorn; will plunge, suddenly, like a fiery javelin, into the heart of Poland, and make Poland surrender its claim. Whereupon King Sigismund bestirred himself in earnest; came out with vast clouds of Polish chivalry; overset Albert's 8,000;—who took to eating the country, instead of fighting for it; being indeed in want of all things. One of the gladdest days Albert had yet seen, was when he got the 8,000 sent home again.
What then is to be done? "Armistice for four years," Sigismund was still kind enough to consent to that: "Truce for four years: try everywhere, my poor Nephew; after that, your mind will perhaps become pliant." Albert tried the Reich again: "Four years, O Princes, and then I must do it, or be eaten!" Reich, busy with Lutheran-Papal, Turk-Christian quarrels, merely shrugged its shoulders upon Albert. Teutschmeister did the like; everybody the like. In Heaven or Earth, then, is there no hope for me? thought Albert. And his stock of ready money—we will not speak of that!
Meanwhile Dr. Osiander of Anspach had come to him; and the pious young man was getting utterly shaken in his religion. Monkish vows, Pope, Holy Church itself, what is one to think, Herr Doctor? Albert, religious to an eminent degree, was getting deep into Protestantism. In his many journeyings, to Nurnberg, to Brandenburg, and up and down, he had been at Wittenberg too: he saw Luther in person more than once there; corresponded with Luther; in fine believed in the truth of Luther. The Culmbach Brothers were both, at least George ardently was, inclined to Protestantism, as we have seen; but Albert was foremost of the three in this course. Osiander and flights of zealous Culmbach Preachers made many converts in Preussen. In these circumstances the Four Years came to a close.
Albert, we may believe, is greatly at a loss; and deep deliberations, Culmbach, Berlin, Liegnitz, Poland all called in, are held:—a case beyond measure intricate. You have given your word; word must be kept,—and cannot, without plain hurt, or ruin even, to those that took it of you. Withdraw, therefore; fling it up!—Fling it up? A valuable article to fling up; fling it up is the last resource. Nay, in fact, to whom will you fling it up? The Prussian Ritters themselves are getting greatly divided on the point; and at last on all manner of points, Protestantism ever more spreading among them. As for the German Brethren, they and their comfortable Teutschmeister, who refused to partake in the dangerous adventure at all; are they entitled to have much to say in the settlement of it now?—
Among others, or as chief oracle of all, Luther was consulted. "What would you have me do towards reforming the Teutsch Order?" inquired Albert of his oracle. Luther's answer was, as may be guessed, emphatic. "Luther," says one reporter, "has in his Writings declared the Order to be 'a thing serviceable neither to God nor man,' and the constitution of it 'a monstrous, frightful, hermaphroditish, neither secular nor spiritual constitution.'" [C. J. Weber, Daa Ritterwessen (Stuttgard, 1837), iii. 208.] We do not know what Luther's answer to Albert was;—but can infer the purport of it: That such a Teutsch Ritterdom was not, at any rate, a thing long for this world; that white cloaks with black crosses on them would not, of themselves, profit any Ritterdom; that solemn vows and high supramundane professions, followed by such practice as was notorious, are an afflicting, not to say a damnable, spectacle on God's Earth;—that a young Herr had better marry; better have done with the wretched Babylonian Nightmare of Papistry altogether; better shake oneself awake, in God's name, and see if there are not still monitions in the eternal sky as to what it is wise to do, and wise not to do!—This I imagine to have been, in modern language, the purport of Dr. Luther's advice to Hochmeister Albrecht on the present interesting occasion.
It is certain, Albert, before long, took this course; Uncle Sigismund and the resident Officials of the Ritterdom having made agreement to it as the one practicable course. The manner as follows: 1. Instead of Elected Hochmeister, let us be Hereditary Duke of Preussen, and pay homage for it to Uncle Sigismund in that character. 2. Such of the resident Officials of the Ritterdom as are prepared to go along with us, we will in like manner constitute permanent Feudal Proprietors of what they now possess as Life-rent, and they shall be Sub-vassals under us as Hereditary Duke. 3. In all which Uncle Sigismund and the Republic of Poland engage to maintain us against the world.
That is, in sum, the Transaction entered into, by King Sigismund I. of Poland, on the one part, and Hochmeister Albert and his Ritter Officials, such as went along with him, (which of course none could do that were not Protestant), on the other part: done at Cracow, 8th April, 1525. [Rentsch, p. 850.—Here, certified by Rentsch, Voigt and others, is a worn-out patch of Paper, which is perhaps worth printing:—
1490, May 17, Albert is born. 1511, February 14, Hochmeister. 1519, December, King Sigismund's first hostile movements. 1520, October, German Mercenaries arrive. 1520, November, try Siege of Dantzig. 1520, November 17, give it up. 1521, April 10, Truce for Four Years. 1523, June, Albert consults Luther. 1524, November, sees Luther. 1525, April 8, Peace of Cracow, and Albert to be Duke of Prussia.] Whereby Teutsch Ritterdom, the Prussian part of it, vanished from the world; dissolving itself, and its "hermaphrodite constitution," like a kind of Male Nunnery, as so many female ones had done in those years. A Transaction giving rise to endless criticism, then and afterwards. Transaction plainly not reconcilable with the letter of the law; and liable to have logic chopped upon it to any amount, and to all lengths of time. The Teutschmeister and his German Brethren shrieked murder; the whole world, then, and for long afterwards, had much to say and argue.
To us, now that the logic-chaff is all laid long since, the question is substantial, not formal. If the Teutsch Ritterdom was actually at this time DEAD, actually stumbling about as a mere galvanized Lie beginning to be putrid,—then, sure enough, it behooved that somebody should bury it, to avoid pestilential effects in the neighborhood. Somebody or other;—first flaying the skin off, as was natural, and taking that for his trouble. All turns, in substance, on this latter question! If, again, the Ritterdom was not dead—?
And truly it struggled as hard as Partridge the Almanac-maker to rebut that fatal accusation; complained (Teutschmeister and German-Papist part of it) loudly at the Diets; got Albert and his consorts put to the Ban (GEACHTET), fiercely menaced by the Kaiser Karl V. But nothing came of all that; nothing but noise. Albert maintained his point; Kaiser Karl always found his hands full otherwise, and had nothing but stamped parchments and menaces to fire off at Albert. Teutsch Ritterdom, the Popish part of it, did enjoy its valuable bailliwicks, and very considerable rents in various quarters of Germany and Europe, having lost only Preussen; and walked about, for three centuries more, with money in its pocket, and a solemn white gown with black cross on its back,—the most opulent Social Club in existence, and an excellent place for bestowing younger sons of sixteen quarters. But it was, and continued through so many centuries, in every essential respect, a solemn Hypocrisy; a functionless merely eating Phantasm, of the nature of goblin, hungry ghost or ghoul (of which kind there are many);—till Napoleon finally ordered it to vanish; its time, even as Phantasm, being come.
Albert, I can conjecture, had his own difficulties as Regent in Preussen. [1525-1568.] Protestant Theology, to make matters worse for him, had split itself furiously into 'DOXIES; and there was an OSIANDERISM (Osiander being the Duke's chaplain), much flamed upon by the more orthodox ISM. "Foreigners," too, German-Anspach and other, were ill seen by the native gentlemen; yet sometimes got encouragement. One Funccius, a shining Nurnberg immigrant there, son-in-law of Osiander, who from Theology got into Politics, had at last (1564) to be beheaded,—old Duke Albert himself "bitterly weeping" about him; for it was none of Albert's doing. Probably his new allodial Ritter gentlemen were not the most submiss, when made hereditary? We can only hope the Duke was a Hohenzollern, and not quite unequal to his task in this respect. A man with high bald brow; magnificent spade-beard; air much-pondering, almost gaunt,—gaunt kind of eyes especially, and a slight cast in them, which adds to his severity of aspect. He kept his possession well, every inch of it; and left all safe at his decease in 1568. His age was then near eighty. It was the tenth year of our Elizabeth as Queen; invincible Armada not yet built; but Alba very busy, cutting off high heads in Brabant; and stirring up the Dutch to such fury as was needful for exploding Spain and him.
This Duke Albert was a profoundly religious man, as all thoughtful men then were. Much given to Theology, to Doctors of Divinity; being eager to know God's Laws in this Universe, and wholesomely certain of damnation if he should not follow them. Fond of the profane Sciences too, especially of Astronomy: Erasmus Reinhold and his Tabulae Prutenicae were once very celebrated; Erasmus Reinhold proclaims gratefully how these his elaborate Tables (done according to the latest discoveries, 1551 and onwards) were executed upon Duke Albert's high bounty; for which reason they are dedicated to Duke Albert, and called "PRUTENICAE," meaning PRUSSIAN. [Rentsch, p. 855.] The University of Konigsberg was already founded several years before, in 1544.
Albert had not failed to marry, as Luther counselled: by his first Wife he had only daughters; by his second, one son, Albert Friedrich, who, without opposition or difficulty, succeeded his Father. Thus was Preussen acquired to the Hohenzollern Family; for, before long, the Electoral branch managed to get MITBELEHNUNG (Co-infeftment), that is to say, Eventual Succession; and Preussen became a Family Heritage, as Anspach and Baireuth were.
Chapter VII. — ALBERT ALCIBIADES.
One word must be spent on poor Albert, Casimir's son, [1522-1557] already mentioned. This poor Albert, whom they call ALCIBIADES, made a great noise in that epoch; being what some define as the "Failure of a Fritz;" who has really features of him we are to call "Friedrich the Great," but who burnt away his splendid qualities as a mere temporary shine for the able editors, and never came to anything.
A high and gallant young fellow, left fatherless in childhood; perhaps he came too early into power:—he came, at any rate, in very volcanic times, when Germany was all in convulsion; the Old Religion and the New having at length broken out into open battle, with huge results to be hoped and feared; and the largest game going on, in sight of an adventurous youth. How Albert staked in it; how he played to immense heights of sudden gain, and finally to utter bankruptcy, I cannot explain here: some German delineator of human destinies, "Artist" worth the name, if there were any, might find in him a fine subject.
He was ward of his Uncle George; and the probable fact is, no guardian could have been more faithful. Nevertheless, on approaching the years of majority, of majority but not discretion, he saw good to quarrel with his Uncle; claimed this and that, which was not granted: quarrel lasting for years. Nay matters ran so high at last, it was like to come to war between them, had not George been wiser. The young fellow actually sent a cartel to his Uncle; challenged him to mortal combat,—at which George only wagged his old beard, we suppose, and said nothing. Neighbors interposed, the Diet itself interposed; and the matter was got quenched again. Leaving Albert, let us hope, a repentant young man. We said he was full of fire, too much of it wildfire.
His profession was Arms; he shone much in war; went slashing and fighting through those Schmalkaldic broils, and others of his time; a distinguished captain; cutting his way towards something high, he saw not well what. He had great comradeship with Moritz of Saxony in the wars: two sworn brothers they, and comrades in arms:—it is the same dexterous Moritz, who, himself a Protestant, managed to get his too Protestant Cousin's Electorate of Saxony into his hand, by luck of the game; the Moritz, too, from whom Albert by and by got his last defeat, giving Moritz his death in return. That was the finale of their comradeship. All things end, and nothing ceases changing till it end.
He was by position originally on the Kaiser's side; had attained great eminence, and done high feats of arms and generalship in his service. But being a Protestant by creed, he changed after that Schmalkaldic downfall (rout of Muhlberg, 24th April, 1547), which brought Moritz an Electorate, and nearly cost Moritz's too Protestant Cousin his life as well as lands. [Account of it in De Wette, Lebensgeschichte der Herzoge zu Sachsen(Weimar, 1770), pp. 32-35.] The victorious Kaiser growing now very high in his ways, there arose complaints against him from all sides, very loud from the Protestant side; and Moritz and Albert took to arms, with loud manifestos and the other phenomena.
This was early in 1552, five years after Muhlberg Rout or Battle. The there victorious Kaiser was now suddenly almost ruined; chased like a partridge into the Innspruck Mountains,—could have been caught, only Moritz would not; "had no cage to hold so big a bird," he said. So the Treaty of Passau was made, and the Kaiser came much down from his lofty ways. Famed TREATY OF PASSAU (22d August, 1552), which was the finale of these broils, and hushed them up for a Fourscore years to come. That was a memorable year in German Reformation History.
Albert, meanwhile, had been busy in the interior of the country; blazing aloft in Frankenland, his native quarter, with a success that astonished all men. For seven months he was virtually King of Germany; ransomed Bamberg, ransomed Wurzburg, Nurnberg (places he had a grudge at); ransomed all manner of towns and places,—especially rich Bishops and their towns, with VERBUM DIABOLI sticking in them,—at enormous sums. King of the world for a brief season;—must have had some strange thoughts to himself, had they been recorded for us. A pious man, too; not in the least like "Alcibiades," except in the sudden changes of fortune he underwent. His Motto, or old rhymed Prayer, which he would repeat on getting into the saddle for military work,—a rough rhyme of his own composing,—is still preserved. Let us give it, with an English fac-simile, or roughest mechanical pencil-tracing,—by way of glimpse into the heart of a vanished Time and its Man-at-arms: [Rentsch, p. 644.]
Das Walt der Herr Jesus Christ, Mit dem Vater, der uber uns ist: Wer starker ist als dieser Mann, Der komm und thu' ein Leid mir an.
Guide it the Lord Jesus Christ, [Read "Chris" or "Chriz," for the rhyme's sake.] And the Father, who over us is: He that is stronger than that Man, [Sic.] Let him do me a hurt when he can.
He was at the Siege of Metz (end of that same 1552), and a principal figure there. Readers have heard of the Siege of Metz: How Henry II. of France fished up those "Three Bishoprics" (Metz, Toul, Verdun, constituent part of Lorraine, a covetable fraction of Teutschland) from the troubled sea of German things, by aid of Moritz now KUR-SACHSEN, and of Albert; and would not throw them in again, according to bargain, when Peace, the PEACE OF PASSAU came. How Kaiser Karl determined to have them back before the year ended, cost what it might; and Henry II. to keep them, cost what it might. How Guise defended, with all the Chivalry of France; and Kaiser Karl besieged, [19th October, 1552, and onwards.] with an Army of 100,000 men, under Duke Alba for chief captain. Siege protracted into midwinter; and the "sound of his cannon heard at Strasburg," which is eighty miles off, "in the winter nights." [Kohler, Reichs-Historie, p. 453;—and more especially Munzbelustigungen (Nurnberg, 1729-1750), ix. 121-129. The Year of this Volume, and of the Number in question, is 1737; the MUNZE or Medal "recreated upon" in of Henri II.]
It had depended upon Albert, who hung in the distance with an army of his own, whether the Siege could even begin; but he joined the Kaiser, being reconciled again; and the trenches opened. By the valor of Guise and his Chivalry,—still more perhaps by the iron frosts and by the sleety rains of Winter, and the hungers and the hardships of a hundred thousand men, digging vainly at the ice-bound earth, or trampling it when sleety into seas of mud, and themselves sinking in it, of dysentery, famine, toil and despair, as they cannonaded day and night,—Metz could not be taken. "Impossible!" said the Generals with one voice, after trying it for a couple of months. "Try it one other ten days," said the Kaiser with a gloomy fixity; "let us all die, or else do it!" They tried, with double desperation, another ten days; cannon booming through the winter midnight far and wide, four score miles round: "Cannot be done, your Majesty! Cannot,—the winter and the mud, and Guise and the walls; man's strength cannot do it in this season. We must march away!" Karl listened in silence; but the tears were seen to run down his proud face, now not so young as it once was: "Let us march, then!" he said, in a low voice, after some pause.
Alcibiades covered the retreat to Diedenhof (THIONVILLE they now call it): outmanoeuvred the French, retreated with success; he had already captured a grand Due d'Aumale, a Prince of the Guises,—valuable ransom to be looked for there. It was thought he should have made his bargain better with the Kaiser, before starting; but he had neglected that. Albert's course was downward thenceforth; Kaiser Karl's too. The French keep these "Three Bishoprics (TROIS EVECHES)," and Teutschland laments the loss of them, to this hour. Kaiser Karl, as some write, never smiled again;—abdicated, not long after; retired into the Monastery of St. Just, and there soon died. That is the siege of Metz, where Alcibiades was helpful. His own bargain with the Kaiser should have been better made beforehand.
Dissatisfied with any bargain he could now get; dissatisfied with the Treaty of Passau, with such a finale and hushing-up of the Religious Controversy, and in general with himself and with the world, Albert again drew sword; went loose at a high rate upon his Bamberg-Wurzburg enemies, and, having raised supplies there, upon Moritz and those Passau-Treatiers. He was beaten at last by Moritz, "Sunday, 9th July, 1553," at a place called Sievershausen in the Hanover Country, where Moritz himself perished in the action.—Albert fled thereupon to France. No hope in France. No luck in other small and desperate stakings of his: the game is done. Albert returns to a Sister he had, to her Husband's Court in Baden; a broken, bare and bankrupt man;—soon dies there, childless, leaving the shadow of a name. [Here, chiefly from Kohler (Munzbelustigungen, iii. 414-416), is the chronology of Albert's operations:—Seizure of Nurnberg &c., 11th May to 22d June, 1552; Innspruck (with Treaty of Passau) follows. Then Siege of Metz, October to December, 1552; Bamberg, Wurzburg and Nurnberg ransomed again, April, 1553; Battle of Sievershausen, 9th July, 1553. Wurzburg &c. explode against him; Ban of the Empire, 4th May, 1554. To France thereupon; returns, hoping to negotiate, end of 1556; dies at Pforzheim, at his Sister's, 8th January, 1557.—See Pauli, iii. 120-138. See also Dr. Kapp, Erinnerungen an diejenigen Markgrafen &c. (a reprint from the Archiv fur Geschichte und Alterthumskunde in Ober-Franken, Year 1841).]
His death brought huge troubles upon Baireuth and the Family Possessions. So many neighbors, Bamberg, Wurzburg and the rest, were eager for retaliation; a new Kaiser greedy for confiscating. Plassenburg Castle was besieged, bombarded, taken by famine and burnt; much was burnt and torn to waste. Nay, had it not been for help from Berlin, the Family had gone to utter ruin in those parts. For this Alcibiades had, in his turn, been Guardian to Uncle George's Son, the George Friedrich we once spoke of, still a minor, but well known afterwards; and it was attempted, by an eager Kaiser Ferdinand, to involve this poor youth in his Cousin's illegalities, as if Ward and Guardian had been one person. Baireuth which had been Alcibiades's, Anspach which was the young man's own, nay Jagerndorf with its Appendages, were at one time all in the clutches of the hawk,—had not help from Berlin been there. But in the end, the Law had to be allowed its course; George Friedrich got his own Territories back (all but some surreptitious nibblings in the Jagerndorf quarter, to be noticed elsewhere), and also got Baireuth, his poor Cousin's Inheritance;—sole heir, he now, in Culmbath, the Line of Casimir being out.
One owns to a kind of love for poor Albert Alcibiades. In certain sordid times, even a "Failure of a Fritz" is better than some Successes that are going. A man of some real nobleness, this Albert; though not with wisdom enough, not with good fortune enough. Could he have continued to "rule the situation" (as our French friends phrase it); to march the fanatical Papistries, and Kaiser Karl, clear out of it, home to Spain and San Justo a little earlier; to wave the coming Jesuitries away, as with a flaming sword; to forbid beforehand the doleful Thirty-Years War, and the still dolefuler spiritual atrophy (the flaccid Pedantry, ever rummaging and rearranging among learned marine-stores, which thinks itself Wisdom and Insight; the vague maunderings, flutings; indolent, impotent daydreaming and tobacco-smoking, of poor Modern Germany) which has followed therefrom,—ACH GOTT, he might have been a "SUCCESS of a Fritz" three times over! He might have been a German Cromwell; beckoning his People to fly, eagle-like, straight towards the Sun; instead of screwing about it in that sad, uncertain, and far too spiral manner!—But it lay not in him; not in his capabilities or opportunities, after all: and we but waste time in such speculations.
Chapter VIII. — HISTORICAL MEANING OF THE REFORMATION.
The Culmbach Brothers, we observe, play a more important part in that era than their seniors and chiefs of Brandenburg. These Culmbachers, Margraf George aud Albert of Preussen at the head of them, march valiantly forward in the Reformation business; while KUR-BRANDENBURG, Joachim I., their senior Cousin, is talking loud at Diets, galloping to Innspruck and the like, zealous on the Conservative side; and Cardinal Albert, KUR-MAINZ, his eloquent brother, is eager to make matters smooth and avoid violent methods.
The Reformation was the great Event of that Sixteenth Century; according as a man did something in that, or did nothing and obstructed doing, has he much claim to memory, or no claim, in this age of ours. The more it becomes apparent that the Reformation was the Event then transacting itself, was the thing that Germany and Europe either did or refused to do, the more does the historical significance of men attach itself to the phases of that transaction. Accordingly we notice henceforth that the memorable points of Brandenburg History, what of it sticks naturally to the memory of a reader or student, connect themselves of their own accord, almost all, with the History of the Reformation. That has proved to be the Law of Nature in regard to them, softly establishing itself; and it is ours to follow that law.
Brandenburg, not at first unanimously, by no means too inconsiderately, but with overwhelming unanimity when the matter became clear, was lucky enough to adopt the Reformation;—and stands by it ever since in its ever-widening scope, amid such difficulties as there might be. Brandenburg had felt somehow, that it could do no other. And ever onwards through the times even of our little Fritz and farther, if we will understand the word "Reformation," Brandenburg so feels; being, at this day, to an honorable degree, incapable of believing incredibilities, of adopting solemn shams, or pretending to live on spiritual moonshine. Which has been of uncountable advantage to Brandenburg:—how could it fail? This was what we must call obeying the audible voice of Heaven. To which same "voice," at that time, all that did not give ear,—what has become of them since; have they not signally had the penalties to pay!
"Penalties:" quarrel not with the old phraseology, good reader; attend rather to the thing it means. The word was heard of old, with a right solemn meaning attached to it, from theological pulpits and such places; and may still be heard there with a half-meaning, or with no meaning, though it has rather become obsolete to modern ears. But the THING should not have fallen obsolete; the thing is a grand and solemn truth, expressive of a silent Law of Heaven, which continues forever valid. The most untheological of men may still assert the thing; and invite all men to notice it, as a silent monition and prophecy in this Universe; to take it, with more of awe than they are wont, as a correct reading of the Will of the Eternal in respect of such matters; and, in their modern sphere, to bear the same well in mind. For it is perfectly certain, and may be seen with eyes in any quarter of Europe at this day.
Protestant or not Protestant? The question meant everywhere: "Is there anything of nobleness in you, O Nation, or is there nothing? Are there, in this Nation, enough of heroic men to venture forward, and to battle for God's Truth VERSUS the Devil's Falsehood, at the peril of life and more? Men who prefer death, and all else, to living under Falsehood,—who, once for all, will not live under Falsehood; but having drawn the sword against it (the time being come for that rare and important step), throw away the scabbard, and can say, in pious clearness, with their whole soul: 'Come on, then! Life under Falsehood is not good for me; and we will try it out now. Let it be to the death between us, then!'"
Once risen into this divine white-heat of temper, were it only for a season and not again, the Nation is thenceforth considerable through all its remaining history. What immensities of DROSS and crypto-poisonous matter will it not burn out of itself in that high temperature, in the course of a few years! Witness Cromwell and his Puritans,—making England habitable even under the Charles-Second terms for a couple of centuries more. Nations are benefited, I believe, for ages, by being thrown once into divine white-heat in this manner. And no Nation that has not had such divine paroxysms at any time is apt to come to much.
That was now, in this epoch, the English of "adopting Protestantism;" and we need not wonder at the results which it has had, and which the want of it has had. For the want of it is literally the want of loyalty to the Maker of this Universe. He who wants that, what else has he, or can he have? If you do not, you Man or you Nation, love the Truth enough, but try to make a Chapman-bargain with Truth, instead of giving yourself wholly soul and body and life to her, Truth will not live with you, Truth will depart from you; and only Logic, "Wit" (for example, "London Wit"), Sophistry, Virtu, the AEsthetic Arts, and perhaps (for a short while) Bookkeeping by Double Entry, will abide with you. You will follow falsity, and think it truth, you unfortunate man or nation. You will right surely, you for one, stumble to the Devil; and are every day and hour, little as you imagine it, making progress thither.
Austria, Spain, Italy, France, Poland,—the offer of the Reformation was made everywhere; and it is curious to see what has become of the nations that would not hear it. In all countries were some that accepted; but in many there were not enough, and the rest, slowly or swiftly, with fatal difficult industry, contrived to burn them out. Austria was once full of Protestants; but the hide-bound Flemish-Spanish Kaiser-element presiding over it, obstinately, for two centuries, kept saying, "No; we, with our dull obstinate Cimburgis under-lip and lazy eyes, with our ponderous Austrian depth of Habituality and indolence of Intellect, we prefer steady Darkness to uncertain new Light!"—and all men may see where Austria now is. Spain still more; poor Spain, going about, at this time, making its "PRONUNCIAMIENTOS;" all the factious attorneys in its little towns assembling to PRONOUNCE virtually this, "The Old IS a lie, then;—good Heavens, after we so long tried hard, harder than any nation, to think it a truth!—and if it be not Rights of Man, Red Republic and Progress of the Species, we know not what now to believe or to do; and are as a people stumbling on steep places, in the darkness of midnight!"—They refused Truth when she came; and now Truth knows nothing of them. All stars, and heavenly lights, have become veiled to such men; they must now follow terrestrial IGNES FATUI, and think them stars. That is the doom passed upon them.
Italy too had its Protestants; but Italy killed them; managed to extinguish Protestantism. Italy put up silently with Practical Lies of all kinds; and, shrugging its shoulders, preferred going into Dilettantism and the Fine Arts. The Italians, instead of the sacred service of Fact and Performance, did Music, Painting, and the like:—till even that has become impossible for them; and no noble Nation, sunk from virtue to VIRTU, ever offered such a spectacle before. He that will prefer Dilettantism in this world for his outfit, shall have it; but all the gods will depart from him; and manful veracity, earnestness of purpose, devout depth of soul, shall no more be his. He can if he like make himself a soprano, and sing for hire;—and probably that is the real goal for him.
But the sharpest-cut example is France; to which we constantly return for illustration. France, with its keen intellect, saw the truth and saw the falsity, in those Protestant times; and, with its ardor of generous impulse, was prone enough to adopt the former. France was within a hair's-breadth of becoming actually Protestant. But France saw good to massacre Protestantism, and end it in the night of St. Bartholomew, 1572. The celestial Apparitor of Heaven's Chancery, so we may speak, the Genius of Fact and Veracity, had left his Writ of Summons; Writ was read;—and replied to in this manner. The Genius of Fact and Veracity accordingly withdrew;—was staved off, got kept away, for two hundred years. But the writ of Summons had been served; Heaven's Messenger could not stay away forever. No; he returned duly; with accounts run up, on compound interest, to the actual hour, in 1792;—and then, at last, there had to be a "Protestantism;" and we know of what kind that was!—
Nations did not so understand it, nor did Brandenburg more than the others; but the question of questions for them at that time, decisive of their history for half a thousand years to come, was, Will you obey the heavenly voice, or will you not?
Chapter IX. — KURFURST JOACHIM I.
Brandenburg, in the matter of the Reformation, was at first—with Albert of Mainz, Tetzel's friend, on the one side, and Pious George of Anspach, "NIT KOP AB," on the other—certainly a divided house. But, after the first act, it conspicuously ceased to be divided; nay Kur-Brandenburg and Kur-Mainz themselves had known tendencies to the Reformation, and were well aware that the Church could not stand as it was. Nor did the cause want partisans in Berlin, in Brandenburg,—hardly to be repressed from breaking into flame, while Kurfurst Joachim was so prudent and conservative. Of this loud Kurfurst Joachim I., here and there mentioned already, let us now say a more express word. [1484, 1499, 1535: birth, accession, death of Joachim.]
Joachim I., Big John's son, hesitated hither and thither for some time, trying if it would not do to follow the Kaiser Karl V.'s lead; and at length, crossed in his temper perhaps by the speed his friends were going at, declared formally against any farther Reformation; and in his own family and country was strict upon the point. He is a man, as I judge, by no means without a temper of his own; very loud occasionally in the Diets and elsewhere;—reminds me a little of a certain King Friedrich Wilhelm, whom my readers shall know by and by. A big, surly, rather bottle-nosed man, with thick lips, abstruse wearied eyes, and no eyebrows to speak of: not a beautiful man, when you cross him overmuch.
OF JOACHIM'S WIFE AND BROTHER-IN-LAW.
His wife was a Danish Princess, Sister of poor Christian II., King of that Country: dissolute Christian, who took up with a huckster-woman's daughter,—"mother sold gingerbread," it would appear, "at Bergen in Norway," where Christian was Viceroy; Christian made acceptable love to the daughter, "DIVIKE (Dovekin, COLUMBINA)," as he called her. Nay he made the gingerbread mother a kind of prime-minister, said the angry public, justly scandalized at this of the "Dovekin." He was married, meanwhile, to Karl V.'s own Sister; but continued that other connection. [Here are the dates of this poor Christian, in a lump. Born, 1481; King, 1513 (Dovekin before); married, 1515; turned off, 1523; invades, taken prisoner, 1532; dies, 1559. Cousin, and then Cousin's Son, succeeded.] He had rash notions, now for the Reformation, now against it, when he got to be King; a very rash, unwise, explosive man. He made a "Stockholm BLUTBAD" still famed in History (kind of open, ordered or permitted, Massacre of eighty or a hundred of his chief enemies there), "Bloodbath," so they name it; in Stockholm, where indeed he was lawful King, and not without unlawful enemies, had a bloodbath been the way to deal with them. Gustavus Vasa was a young fellow there, who dexterously escaped this Bloodbath, and afterwards came to something.
In Denmark and Sweden, rash Christian made ever more enemies; at length he was forced to run, and they chose another King or successive pair of Kings. Christian fled to Kaiser Karl at Brussels; complained to Kaiser Karl, his Brother-in-law,—whose Sister he had not used well. Kaiser Karl listened to his complaints, with hanging under-lip, with heavy, deep, undecipherable eyes; evidently no help from Karl.
Christian, after that, wandered about with inexecutable speculations, and projects to recover his crown or crowns; sheltering often with Kurfurst Joachim, who took a great deal of trouble about him, first and last; or with the Elector of Saxony, Friedrich the Wise, or after him, with Johann the Steadfast ("V. D. M. I. AE." whom we saw at Augsburg), who were his Mother's Brothers, and beneficent men. He was in Saxony, on such terms, coming and going, when a certain other Flight thither took place, soon to be spoken of, which is the cause of our mentioning him here.—In the end (A.D. 1532) he did get some force together, and made sail to Norway; but could do no execution whatever there;—on the contrary, was frozen in on the coast during winter; seized, carried to Copenhagen, and packed into the "Castle of Sonderburg," a grim sea-lodging on the shore of Schleswig,—prisoner for the rest of his life, which lasted long enough. Six-and-twenty years of prison; the first seventeen years of it strict and hard, almost of the dungeon sort; the remainder, on his fairly abdicating, was in another Castle, that of Callundborg in the Island of Zealand, "with fine apartments and conveniences," and even "a good house of liquor now and then," at discretion of the old soul. That was the end of headlong Christian II.; he lasted in this manner to the age of seventy-eight. [Kohler, Munzbelustigungen,xi. 47, 48; Holberg, Danemarckische Staats-und Reichs-Historie (Copenhagen, 1731, NOT the big Book by Holberg), p. 241; Buddaus, Allgemeines Historisches Lexicon (Leipzig, 1709),? Christianus II.]
His Sister Elizabeth at Brandenburg is perhaps, in regard to natural character, recognizably of the same kin as Christian; but her behavior is far different from his. She too is zealous for the Reformation; but she has a right to be so, and her notions that way are steady; and she has hitherto, though in a difficult position, done honor to her creed. Surly Joachim is difficult to deal with; is very positive now that he has declared himself: "In my house at least shall be nothing farther of that unblessed stuff." Poor Lady, I see domestic difficulties very thick upon her; nothing but division, the very children ranging themselves in parties. She can pray to Heaven; she must do her wisest.
She partook once, by some secret opportunity, of the "communion under both kinds;" one of her Daughters noticed and knew; told Father of it. Father knits up his thick lips; rolls his abstruse dissatisfied eyes, in an ominous manner: the poor Lady, probably possessed of an excitable imagination too, trembles for herself. "It is thought, His DURCHLAUCHT will wall you up for life, my Serene Lady; dark prison for life, which probably may not be long!" These surmises were of no credibility: but there and then the poor Lady, in a shiver of terror, decides that she must run; goes off actually, one night ("Monday after the LAETARE," which we find is 24th March) in the year 1528, (Pauli (ii. 584); who cites Seckendorf, and this fraction of a Letter of Luther's, to one "LINCKUS" or Lincke, written on the Friday following (28th March, 1528):—
"The Electress [MARGRAVINE he calls her] has fled from Berlin, by help of her Brother the King of Denmark [poor Christian II.] to our Prince [Johann the Steadfast], because her Elector had determined to wall her up, as is reported, on account of the Eucharist under both species. Pray for our Prince; the pious man and affectionate soul gets a great deal of trouble with his kindred." Or thus in the Original:—
"Marchionissa aufugit a Berlin, auxilio fratris, Regis Daniae, ad nostrum Principem, quod Marchio statuerat eam immurare (ut dicitur) propter Eucharistiam utriusque speciei. Ora pro nostro Principe; der fromme Mann und herzliche Mensch ist doch ja wohl geplaget" (Seckendorf, Historia Lutheranismi, ii.? 62, No. 8, p. 122).) in a mean vehicle under cloud of darkness, with only one maid and groom,—driving for life. That is very certain: she too is on flight towards Saxony, to shelter with her uncle Kurfurst Johann,—unless for reasons of state he scruple? On the dark road her vehicle broke down; a spoke given way,—"Not a bit of rope to splice it," said the improvident groom. "Take my lace-veil here," said the poor Princess; and in this guise she got to Torgau (I could guess, her poor Brother's lodging),—and thence, in short time, to the fine Schloss of Lichtenberg hard by; Uncle Johann, to whom she had zealously left an option of refusal, having as zealously permitted and invited her to continue there. Which she did for many years.
Nor did she get the least molestation from Husband Joachim;—who I conjecture had intended, though a man of a certain temper, and strict in his own house, something short of walling up for life:—poor Joachim withal! "However, since you are gone, Madam, go!" Nor did he concern himself with Christian II. farther, but let him lie in prison at his leisure. As for the Lady, he even let his children visit her at Lichtenberg; Crypto-Protestants all; and, among them, the repentant Daughter who had peached upon her.
Poor Joachim, he makes a pious speech on his death-bed, solemnly warning his Son against these new-fangled heresies; the Son being already possessed of them in his heart. [Speech given in Rentsch, pp. 484-439.] What could Father do more? Both Father and Son, I suppose, were weeping. This was in 1535, this last scene; things looking now more ominous than ever. Of Kurfurst Joachim I will remember nothing farther, except that once, twenty-three years before, he "held a Tourney in Neu-Ruppin," year 1612; Tourney on the most magnificent scale, and in New-Ruppin, [Pauli, ii. 466.] a place we shall know by and by.
As to the Lady, she lived eighteen years in that fine Schloss of Lichtenberg; saw her children as we said; and, silently or otherwise, rejoiced in the creed they were getting. She saw Luther's self sometimes; "had him several times to dinner;" he would call at her Mansion, when his journeys lay that way. She corresponded with him diligently; nay once, for a three months, she herself went across and lodged with Dr. Luther and his Kate; as a royal Lady might with a heroic Sage,—though the Sage's income was only Twenty-four pounds sterling annually. There is no doubt about that visit of three months; one thinks of it, as of something human, something homely, ingenuous and pretty. Nothing in surly Joachim's history is half so memorable to me, or indeed memorable at all in the stage we are now come to.
The Lady survived Joachim twenty years; of these she spent eleven still at Lichtenberg, in no over-haste to return. However, her Son, the new Elector, declaring for Protestantism, she at length yielded to his invitations: came back (1546), and ended her days at Berlin in a peaceable and venerable manner. Luckless Brother Christian is lying under lock-and-key all this while; smuggling out messages, and so on; like a voice from the land of Dreams or of Nightmares, painful, impracticable, coming now and then.
Chapter X. — KURFURST JOACHIM II.
Joachim II., Sixth Elector, no doubt after painful study, and intricate silent consideration ever since his twelfth year when Luther was first heard of over the world, came gradually, and before his Father's death had already come, to the conclusion of adopting the Confession of Augsburg, as the true Interpretation of this Universe, so far as we had yet got; and did so, publicly, in the year 1539. [Rentsch, p. 452.] To the great joy of Berlin and the Brandenburg populations generally, who had been of a Protestant humor, hardly restrainable by Law, for some years past. By this decision Joachim held fast, with a stout, weighty grasp; nothing spasmodic in his way of handling the matter, and yet a heartiness which is agreeable to see. He could not join in the Schmalkaldic War; seeing, it is probable, small chance for such a War, of many chiefs and little counsel; nor was he willing yet to part from the Kaiser Karl V., who was otherwise very good to him.
He had fought personally for this Kaiser, twice over, against the Turks; first as Brandenburg Captain, learning his art; and afterwards as Kaiser's Generalissimo, in 1542. He did no good upon the Turks, on that latter occasion; as indeed what good was to be done, in such a quagmire of futilities as Joachim's element there was? "Too sumptuous in his dinners, too much wine withal!" hint some calumniously. [Paulus Jovius, &c. See Pauli, iii. 70-73.] "Hector of Germany!" say others. He tried some small prefatory Siege or scalade of Pesth; could not do it; and came his ways home again, as the best course. Pedant Chroniclers give him the name HECTOR, "Joachim Hector,"—to match that of CICERO and that of ACHILLES. A man of solid structure, this our Hector, in body and mind: extensive cheeks, very large heavy-laden face; capable of terrible bursts of anger, as his kind generally were.
The Schmalkaldic War went to water, as the Germans phrase it: Kur-Sachsen,—that is, Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous, Son of Johann "V. D. M. I. AE.," and Nephew of Friedrich the Wise,—had his sorrowfully valid reasons for the War; large force too, plenty of zealous copartners, Philip of Hessen and others; but no generalship, or not enough, for such a business. Big Army, as is apt enough to happen, fell short of food; Kaiser Karl hung on the outskirts, waiting confidently till it came to famine. Johann Friedrich would attempt nothing decisive while provender lasted;—and having in the end, strangely enough, and somewhat deaf to advice, divided his big Army into three separate parts;—Johann Friedrich was himself, with one of those parts, surprised at Muhlberg, on a Sunday when at church (24th April, 1547); and was there beaten to sudden ruin, and even taken captive, like to have his head cut off, by the triumphant angry Kaiser. Philip of Hessen, somewhat wiser, was home to Marburg, safe with HIS part, in the interim.—Elector Joachim II. of Brandenburg had good reason to rejoice in his own cautious reluctances on this occasion. However, he did now come valiantly up, hearing what severities were in the wind.
He pleaded earnestly, passionately, he and Cousin or already "Elector" Moritz, [Pauli, iii. 102.]—who was just getting Johann Friedrich's Electorship fished away from him out of these troubles, [Kurfurst, 4th June, 1547.]—for Johann Friedrich of Saxony's life, first of all. For Johann's life FIRST; this is a thing not to be dispensed with, your Majesty, on any terms whatever; a sine qua non, this life to Protestant Germany at large. To which the Kaiser indicated, "He would see; not immediate death at any rate; we will see." A life that could not and must not be taken in this manner: this was the FIRST point. Then, SECONDLY, that Philip of Hessen, now home again at Marburg,—not a bad or disloyal man, though headlong, and with two wives,—might not be forfeited; but that peace and pardon might be granted him, on his entire submission. To which second point the Kaiser answered, "Yes, then, on his submission." These were the two points. These pleadings went on at Halle, where the Kaiser now lies, in triumphantly victorious humor, in the early days of June, Year 1547. Johann Friedrich of Saxony had been, by some Imperial Court-Council or other,—Spanish merely, I suppose,—doomed to die. Sentence was signified to him while he sat at chess: "Can wait till we end the game," thought Johann;—"PERGAMUS," said he to his comrade, "Let us go on, then!" Sentence not to be executed till one see.
With Philip of Hessen things had a more conclusive aspect. Philip had accepted the terms procured for him; which had been laboriously negotiated, brought to paper, and now wanted only the sign-manual to them: "Ohne einigen Gefangniss(without any imprisonment)," one of the chief clauses. And so Philip now came over to Halle; was met and welcomed by his two friends, Joachim and Moritz, at Naumburg, a stage before Halle;—clear now to make his submission, and beg pardon of the Kaiser, according to bargain. On the morrow, 19th June, 1547, the Papers were got signed. And next day, 20th June, Philip did, according to bargain, openly beg pardon of the Kaiser, in his Majesty's Hall of Audience (Town House of Halle, I suppose); "knelt at the Kaiser's feet publicly on both knees, while his Kanzler read the submission and entreaty, as agreed upon;" and, alas, then the Kaiser said nothing at all to him! Kaiser looked haughtily, with impenetrable eyes and shelf-lip, over the head of him; gave him no hand to kiss; and left poor Philip kneeling there. An awkward position indeed;—which any German Painter that there were, might make a Picture of, I have sometimes thought. Picture of some real meaning, more or less,—if for symbolic. Towers of Babel, medieval mythologies, and extensive smearings of that kind, he could find leisure!—Philip having knelt a reasonable time, and finding there was no help for it, rose in the dread silence (some say, with too sturdy an expression of countenance); and retired from the affair, having at least done his part of it.
The next practical thing was now supper, or as we of this age should call it, dinner. Uncommonly select and high supper: host the Duke of Alba; where Joachim, Elector Moritz, and another high Official, the Bishop of Arras, were to welcome poor Philip after his troubles. How the grand supper went, I do not hear: possibly a little constrained; the Kaiser's strange silence sitting on all men's thoughts; not to be spoken of in the present company. At length the guests rose to go away. Philip's lodging is with Moritz (who is his son-in-law, as learned readers know): "You Philip, your lodging is mine; my lodging is yours,—I should say! Cannot we ride together?"—"Philip is not permitted to go," said Imperial Officiality; "Philip is to continue here, and we fear go to prison."—"Prison?" cried they all: "OHNE EINIGEN GEFANGNISS (without ANY imprisonment)!"—"As we read the words, it is 'OHNE EWIGEN GEFANGNISS (without ETERNAL imprisonment),'" answer the others. And so, according to popular tradition, which has little or no credibility, though printed in many Books, their false Secretary had actually modified it.
"No intention of imprisoning his DURCHLAUCHT of Hessen FOREVER; not forever!" answered they. And Kurfurst Joachim, in astonished indignation, after some remonstrating and arguing, louder and louder, which profited nothing, blazed out into a very whirlwind of rage; drew his sword, it is whispered with a shudder,—drew his sword, or was for drawing it, upon the Duke of Alba; and would have done, God knows what, had not friends flung themselves between, and got the Duke away, or him away. [Pauli, iii. 103.] Other accounts bear, that it was upon the Bishop of Arras he drew his sword; which is a somewhat different matter. Perhaps he drew it on both; or on men and things in general;—for his indignation knew no bounds. The heavy solid man; yet with a human heart in him after all, and a Hohenzollern abhorrence of chicanery, capable of rising to the transcendent pitch! His wars against the Turks, and his other Hectorships, I will forget; but this, of a face so extensive kindled all into divine fire for poor Philip's sake, shall be memorable to me.
Philip got out by and by, though with difficulty; the Kaiser proving very stiff in the matter; and only yielding to obstinate pressures, and the force of time and events. Philip got away; and then how Johann Friedrich of Sachsen, after being led about for five years, in the Kaiser's train, a condemned man, liable to be executed any day, did likewise at last get away, with his head safe and Electorate gone: these are known Historical events, which we glanced at already, on another score.
For, by and by, the Kaiser found tougher solicitation than this of Joachim's. The Kaiser, by his high carriage in this and other such matters, had at length kindled a new War round him; and he then soon found himself reduced to extremities again; chased to the Tyrol Mountains, and obliged to comply with many things. New War, of quite other emphasis and management than the Schmalkaldic one; managed by Elector Moritz and our poor friend Albert Alcibiades as principals. A Kaiser chased into the mountains, capable of being seized by a little spurring;—"Capture him?" said Albert. "I have no cage big enough for such a bird!" answered Moritz; and the Kaiser was let run. How he ran then towards Treaty of Passau (1552), towards Siege of Metz and other sad conclusions, "Abdication" the finale of them: these also are known phases in the Reformation History, as hinted at above.
Here at Halle, in the year 1547, the great Kaiser, with Protestantism manacled at his feet, and many things going prosperous, was at his culminating point. He published his INTERIM (1548, What you troublesome Protestants are to do, in the mean time, while the Council of Trent is sitting, and till it and I decide for you); and in short, drove and reined-in the Reich with a high hand and a sharp whip, for the time being. Troublesome Protestants mostly rejected the Interim; Moritz and Alcibiades, with France in the rear of them, took to arms in that way; took to ransoming fat Bishoprics ("Verbum Diaboli Manet," we know where!);—took to chasing Kaisers into the mountains;—and times came soon round again. In all these latter broils Kurfurst Joachim II., deeply interested, as we may fancy, strove to keep quiet; and to prevail, by weight of influence and wise counsel, rather than by fighting with his Kaiser.
One sad little anecdote I recollect of Joachim: an Accident, which happened in those Passau-Interim days, a year or two after that drawing of the sword on Alba. Kurfurst Joachim unfortunately once fell through a staircase, in that time; being, as I guess, a heavy man. It was in the Castle of Grimnitz, one of his many Castles, a spacious enough old Hunting-seat, the repairs of which had not been well attended to. The good Herr, weighty of foot, was leading down his Electress to dinner one day in this Schloss of Grimnitz; broad stair climbs round a grand Hall, hung with stag-trophies, groups of weapons, and the like hall-furniture. An unlucky timber yielded; yawning chasm in the staircase; Joachim and his good Princess sank by gravitation; Joachim to the floor with little hurt; his poor Princess (horrible to think of), being next the wall, came upon the stag-horns and boar-spears down below! [Pauli, iii. 112.] The poor Lady's hurt was indescribable: she walked lame all the rest of her clays; and Joachim, I hope (hope, but not with confidence), [Ib. iii. 194.] loved her all the better for it. This unfortunate old Schloss of Grimnitz, some thirty miles northward of Berlin, was—by the Eighth Kurfurst, Joachim Friedrich, Grandson of this one, with great renown to himself and to it—converted into an Endowed High School: the famed Joachimsthal Gymnasium, still famed, though now under some change of circumstances, and removed to Berlin itself. [Nicolai, p. 725.]
Joachim's first Wife, from whom descend the following Kurfursts, was a daughter of that Duke George of Saxony, Luther's celebrated friend, "If it rained Duke-Georges nine days running."
JOACHIM GETS CO-INFEFTMENT IN PREUSSEN.
This second Wife, she of the accident at Grimnitz, was Hedwig, King Sigismund of Poland's daughter; which connection, it is thought, helped Joachim well in getting what they call the MITBELEHNUNG of Preussen (for it was he that achieved this point) from King Sigismund.
MITBELEHNUNG (Co-infeftment) in Preussen;—whereby is solemnly acknowledged the right of Joachim and his Posterity to the reversion of Preussen, should the Culmbach Line of Duke Albert happen to fail. It was a thing Joachim long strove for; till at length his Father-in-law did, some twenty years hence, concede it him. [Date, Lublin, 19th July, 1568: Pauli, iii. 177-179, 193; Rentsch, p. 457; Stenzel, i. 341, 342.] Should Albert's Line fail, then, the other Culmbachers get Preussen; should the Culmbachers all fail, the Berlin Brandenburgers get it. The Culmbachers are at this time rather scarce of heirs: poor Alcibiades died childless, as we know, and Casimir's Line is extinct; Duke Albert himself has left only one Son, who now succeeds in Preussen; still young, and not of the best omens. Margraf George the Pious, he left only George Friedrich; an excellent man, who is now prosperous in the world, and wedded long since, but has no children. So that, between Joachim's Line and Preussen there are only two intermediate heirs;—and it was a thing eminently worth looking after. Nor has it wanted that. And so Kurfurst Joachim, almost at the end of his course, has now made sure of it.
JOACHIM MAKES "HERITAGE-BROTHERHOOD" WITH THE DUKE OF LIEGNITZ.
Another feat of like nature Joachim II. had long ago achieved; which likewise in the long-run proved important in his Family, and in the History of the world: an "ERBVERBRUDERUNG," so they term it, with the Duke of Liegnitz,—date 1537. ERBVERBRUDERUNG ("Heritage-brotherhood," meaning Covenant to succeed reciprocally on Failure of Heirs to either) had in all times been a common paction among German Princes well affected to each other. Friedrich II., the then Duke of Liegnitz, we have transiently seen, was related to the Family; he had been extremely helpful in bringing his young friend Albert of Preussen's affairs to a good issue,—whose Niece, withal, he had wedded:—in fact, he was a close friend of this our Joachim's; and there had long been a growing connection between the two Houses, by intermarriages and good offices.
The Dukes of Liegnitz were Sovereign-Princes, come of the old Piasts of Poland; and had perfect right to enter into this transaction of an ERBVERBRUDERUNG with whom they liked. True, they had, above two hundred years before, in the days of King Johann ICH-DIEN (A.D. 1329), voluntarily constituted themselves Vassals of the Crown of Bohemia: [Pauli, iii. 22.] but the right to dispose of their Lands as they pleased had, all along, been carefully acknowledged, and saved entire. And, so late as 1521, just sixteen years ago, the Bohemian King Vladislaus the Last, our good Margraf George's friend, had expressly, in a Deed still extant, confirmed to them, with all the emphasis and amplitude that Law-Phraseology could bring to bear upon it, the right to dispose of said Lands in any manner of way: "by written testament, or by verbal on their death-bed, they can, as they see wisest, give away, sell, pawn, dispose of, and exchange (vergeben, verkaufen, versetzen, verschaffen, verwechseln) these said lands," to all lengths, and with all manner of freedom. Which privilege had likewise been confirmed, twice over (1522, 1524), by Ludwig the next King, Ludwig OHNE-HAUT, who perished in the bogs of Mohacz, and ended the native Line of Bohemian-Hungarian Kings. Nay, Ferdinand, King of the Romans, Karl V.'s Brother, afterwards Kaiser, who absorbed that Bohemian Crown among the others, had himself, by implication, sanctioned or admitted the privilege, in 1529, only eight years ago. [Stenzel, i. 323.] The right to make the ERBVERBRUDERUNG could not seem doubtful to anybody.
And made accordingly it was: signed, sealed, drawn out on the proper parchments, 18th October, 1537; to the following clear effect: "That if Duke Friedrich's Line should die out, all his Liegnitz countries, Liegnitz, Brieg, Wohlau, should fall to the Hohenzollern Brandenburgers: and that, if the Line of Hohenzollern Brandenburg should first fail, then all and singular the Bohemian Fiefs of Brandenburg (as Crossen, Zullichau and seven others there enumerated) should fall to the House of Liegnitz." [Stenzel, i. 320.] It seemed a clear Paction, questionable by no mortal. Double-marriage between the two Houses (eldest Son, on each side, to suitable Princess on the other) was to follow: and did follow, after some delays, 17th February, 1545. So that the matter seemed now complete: secure on all points, and a matter of quiet satisfaction to both the Houses and to their friends.
But Ferdinand, King of the Romans, King of Bohemia and Hungary, and coming to be Emperor one day, was not of that sentiment. Ferdinand had once implicitly recognized the privilege, but Ferdinand, now when he saw the privilege turned to use, and such a territory as Liegnitz exposed to the possibility of falling into inconvenient hands, explicitly took other thoughts: and gradually determined to prohibit this ERBVERBRUDERUNG. The States of Bohemia, accordingly, in 1544 (it is not doubtful, by Ferdinand's suggestion), were moved to make inquiries as to this Heritage-Fraternity of Liegnitz. [Ib. i. 322.] On which hint King Ferdinand straightway informed the Duke of Liegnitz that the act was not justifiable, and must be revoked. The Duke of Liegnitz, grieved to the heart, had no means of resisting. Ferdinand, King of the Romans, backed by Kaiser Karl, with the States of Bohemia barking at his wink, were too strong for poor Duke Friedrich of Liegnitz. Great corresponding between Berlin, Liegnitz, Prag ensued on this matter: but the end was a summons to Duke Friedrich,—summons from King Ferdinand in March, 1546, "To appear in the Imperial Hall (KAISERHOF) at Breslau," and to submit that Deed of EBVERBRUDERUNG to the examination of the States there. The States, already up to the affair, soon finished their examination of it (8th May, 1546). The deed was annihilated: and Friedrich was ordered, furthermore, to produce proofs within six months that his subjects too were absolved of all oaths or the like regarding it, and that in fact the Transaction was entirely abolished and reduced to zero. Friedrich complied, had to comply: very much chagrined, he returned home: and died next year,—it is supposed, of heartbreak from this business. He had yielded outwardly: but to force only. In a Codicil appended to his last Will, some months afterwards (which Will, written years ago, had treated the ERBVERBRUDERUNG as a Fact settled), he indicates, as with his last breath, that he considered the thing still valid, though overruled by the hand of power. Let the reader mark this matter; for it will assuredly become memorable, one day.
The hand of power, namely, Ferdinand, King of the Romans, had applied in like manner to Joachim of Brandenburg to surrender his portion of the Deed, and annihilate on his side too this ERBVERBRUDERUNG. But Joachim refused steadily, and all his successors steadily, to give up this Bit of Written Parchment: kept the same, among their precious documents, against some day that might come (and I suppose it lies in the Archives of Berlin even now): silently, or in words, asserting that the Deed of Heritage-Brothership was good, and that though some hands might have the power, no hand could have the right to abolish it on those terms.
How King Ferdinand permitted himself such a procedure? Ferdinand, says one of his latest apologists in this matter, "considered the privileges granted by his Predecessors, in respect to rights of Sovereignty, as fallen extinct on their death." [Stenzel, i. 323.] Which—if Reality and Fact would but likewise be so kind as "consider" it so—was no doubt convenient for Ferdinand!
Joachim was not so great with Ferdinand as he had been with Charles the Imperial Brother. Joachim and Ferdinand had many debates of this kind, some of them rather stiff. Jagerndorf, for instance, and the Baireuth-Anspach confiscations, in George Friedrich's minority. Ferdinand, now Kaiser, had snatched Jagerndorf from poor young George Friedrich, son of excellent Margraf George whom we knew: "Part of the spoils of Albert Alcibiades," thought Ferdinand, "and a good windfall,"—though young George Friedrich had merely been the Ward of Cousin Alcibiades, and totally without concern in those political explosions. "Excellent windfall," thought Ferdinand: and held his grip. But Joachim, in his weighty steady way, intervened: Joachim, emphatic in the Diets and elsewhere, made Ferdinand quit grip, and produce Jagerndorf again. Jagerndorf and the rest had all to be restored: and, except some filchings in the Jagerndorf Appendages (Ratibor and Oppeln, "restored" only in semblance, and at length juggled away altogether), [Rentsch, pp. 129, 130.] everything came to its right owner again. Nor would Joachim rest till Alcibiades's Territories too were all punctually given back, to this same George Friedrich: to whom, by law and justice, they belonged, In these points Joachim prevailed against a strong-handed Kaiser, apt to "consider one's rights fallen extinct" now and then. In this of Liegnitz all he could do was to keep the Deed, in steady protest silent or vocal.
But enough now of Joachim Hector, Sixth Kurfurst, and of his workings and his strugglings. He walked through this world, treading as softly as might be, yet with a strong weighty step: rending the jungle steadily asunder; well seeing whither he was bound. Rather an expensive Herr: built a good deal, completion of the Schloss at Berlin one example: [Nicolai, p. 82.] and was not otherwise afraid of outlay, in the Reich's Politics, or in what seemed needful: If there is a harvest ahead, even a distant one, it is poor thrift to be stingy of your seed-corn!
Joachim was always a conspicuous Public Man, a busy Politician in the Reich: stanch to his kindred, and by no means blind to himself or his own interests. Stanch also, we must grant, and ever active, though generally in a cautious, weighty, never in a rash swift way, to the great Cause of Protestantism, and to all good causes. He was himself a solemnly devout man; deep awe-stricken reverence dwelling in his view of this Universe. Most serious, though with a jocose dialect commonly, having a cheerful wit in speaking to men. Luther's Books he called his SEELENSCHATZ (Soul's-treasure): Luther and the Bible were his chief reading. Fond of profane learning too, and of the useful or ornamental Arts; given to music, and "would himself sing aloud" when he had a melodious leisure-hour. Excellent old gentleman: he died, rather suddenly, but with much nobleness, 3d January, 1571; age sixty-six. Old Rentsch's account of this event is still worth reading: [Rentsch, p. 458.] Joachim's death-scene has a mild pious beauty which does not depend on creed.
He had a Brother too, not a little occupied with Politics, and always on the good side: a wise pious man, whose fame was in all the churches: "Johann of Custrin," called also "Johann THE WISE," who busied himself zealously in Protestant matters, second only in piety and zeal to his Cousin, Margraf George the Pious; and was not so held back by official considerations as his Brother the Elector now and then. Johann of Custrin is a very famous man in the old Books: Johann was the first that fortified Custrin: built himself an illustrious Schloss, and "roofed it with copper," in Custrin (which is a place we shall be well acquainted with by and by); and lived there, with the Neumark for apanage, a true man's life;—mostly with a good deal of business, warlike and other, on his hands; with good Books, good Deeds, and occasionally good Men, coming to enliven it,—according to the terms then given.
Chapter XI. — SEVENTH KURFURST, JOHANN GEORGE.
Kaiser Karl, we said, was very good to Joachim; who always strove, sometimes with a stretch upon his very conscience, to keep well with the Kaiser. The Kaiser took Joachim's young Prince along with him to those Schmalkaldic Wars (not the comfortable side for Joachim's conscience, but the safe side for an anxious Father); Kaiser made a Knight of this young Prince, on one occasion of distinction; he wrote often to Papa about him, what a promising young hero he was,—seems really to have liked the young man. It was Johann George, Elector afterwards, Seventh Elector.—This little incident is known to me on evidence. [Rentsch, p. 465.] A small thing that certainly befell, at the siege of Wittenberg (A.D. 1547), during those Philip-of-Hessen Negotiations, three hundred and odd years ago.
The Schmalkaldic War having come all to nothing, the Saxon Elector sitting captive with sword overhead in the way we saw, Saxon Wittenberg was besieged, and the Kaiser was in great hurry to get it. Kaiser in person, and young Johann George for sole attendant, rode round the place one day, to take a view of the works, and judge how soon, or whether ever, it could be compelled to give in. Gunners noticed them from the battlements; gunners Saxon-Protestant most likely, and in just gloom at the perils and indignities now lying on their pious Kurfurst Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous. "Lo, you! Kaiser's self riding yonder, and one of his silk JUNKERS. Suppose we gave the Kaiser's self a shot, then?" said the gunner, or thought: "It might help a better man from his life-perils, if such shot did—!" In fact the gun flashed off, with due outburst, and almost with due effect. The ball struck the ground among the very horses' feet of the two riders; so that they were thrown, or nearly so, and covered from sight with a cloud of earth and sand;—and the gunners thought, for some instants, an unjust, obstinate Kaiser's life was gone; and a pious Elector's saved. But it proved not so. Kaiser Karl and Johann George both emerged, in a minute or two, little the worse;—Kaiser Karl perhaps blushing somewhat, and flurried this time, I think, in the impenetrable eyes; and his Cimburgis lip closed for the moment;—and galloped out of shot-range. "I never forget this little incident," exclaims Smelfungus: "It is one of the few times I can get, after all my reading about that surprising Karl V., I do not say the least understanding or practical conception of him and his character and his affairs, but the least ocular view or imagination of him, as a fact among facts!" Which is unlucky for Smelfungus.—Johann George, still more emphatically, never to the end of HIS life forgot this incident. And indeed it must be owned, had the shot taken effect as intended, the whole course of human things would have been surprisingly altered;—and for one thing, neither FREDERICH THE GREAT, nor the present HISTORY OF FRIEDRICH, had ever risen above ground, or troubled an enlightened public or me!
Of Johann George, this Seventh Elector, [1525; 1571-1598.] who proved a good Governor, and carried on the Family Affairs in the old style of slow steady success, I will remember nothing more, except that he had the surprising number of Three-and-Twenty children; one of them posthumous, though he died at the age of seventy-three.—
He is Founder of the New Culmbach line: two sons of these twenty-three children he settled, one in Baireuth, the other in Anspach; from whom come all the subsequent Heads of that Principality, till the last of them died in Hammersmith in 1806, as above said. [Rentsch, p. 475 (CHRISTIAN to Baireuth; JOACHIM ERNST to Anspach);—See Genealogical Diagram, inra, p. 309a.] He was a prudent, thrifty Herr; no mistresses, no luxuries allowed; at the sight of a new-fashioned coat, he would fly out on an unhappy youth, and pack him from his presence. Very strict in point of justice: a peasant once appealing to him, in one of his inspection-journeys through the country, "Grant me justice, DURCHLAUCHT, against So-and-so; I am your highness's born subject!"—"Thou shouldst have it, man, wert thou a born Turk!" answered Johann George.—There is something anxious, grave and, as it were, surprised in the look of this good Herr. He made the GERA BOND above spoken of;—founded the Younger Culmbach Line, with that important Law of Primogeniture strictly superadded. A conspicuous thrift, veracity, modest solidity, looks through the conduct of this Herr;—a determined Protestant he too, as indeed all the following were and are. [Rentsch, pp. 470, 471.]
Of Joachim Friedrich, his eldest Son, who at one time was Archbishop of Magdeburg,—called home from the wars to fill that valuable Heirloom, which had suddenly fallen vacant by an Uncle's death, and keep it warm;—and who afterwards, in due course, carried on a LOBLICHE REGIERUNG of the old style and physiognomy, as Eighth Kurfurst, from his fiftieth to his sixtieth year (1598-1608): [Born, 1547; Magdehurg, 1566-1598 (when his Third Son got it,—very unlucky in the Thirty-Years War afterwards).] of him we already noticed the fine "JOACHIMS-thal Gymnasium," or Foundation for learned purposes, in the old Schloss of Grimnitz, where his serene Grandmother got lamed; and will notice nothing farther, in this place, except his very great anxiety to profit by the Prussian MITBELEHNUNG,—that Co-infeftment in Preussen, achieved by his Grandfather Joachim II., which was now about coming to its full maturity. Joachim Friedrich had already married his eldest Prince to the daughter of Albert Friedrich, Second Duke of Preussen, who it was by this time evident would be the last Duke there of his Line. Joachim Friedrich, having himself fallen a widower, did next year, though now counting fifty-six—But it will be better if we explain first, a little, how matters now stood with Preussen.
Chapter XII. — OF ALBERT FRIEDRICH, THE SECOND DUKE OF PREUSSEN.
Duke Albert died in 1568, laden with years, and in his latter time greatly broken down by other troubles. His Prussian RATHS (Councillors) were disobedient, his Osianders and Lutheran-Calvinist Theologians were all in fire and flame against each other: the poor old man, with the best dispositions, but without power to realize them, had much to do and to suffer. Pious, just and honorable, intending the best; but losing his memory, and incapable of business, as he now complained. In his sixtieth year he had married a second time, a young Brunswick Princess, with whose foolish Brother, Eric, he had much trouble; and who at last herself took so ill with the insolence and violence of these intrusive Councillors and Theologians, that the household-life she led beside her old Husband and them became intolerable to her; and she withdrew to another residence,—a little Hunting-seat at Neuhausen, half a dozen miles from Konigsberg;—and there, or at Labiau still farther off, lived mostly, in a separate condition, for the rest of her life. Separate for life:—nevertheless they happened to die on the same day; 20th March, 1568, they were simultaneously delivered from their troubles in this world. [Hubner, t. 181; Stenzel, i. 342.]
Albert left one Son; the second child of this last Wife: his one child by the former Wife, a daughter now of good years, was married to the Duke of Mecklenburg. Son's name was Albert Friedrich; age, at his Father's death, fifteen. A promising young Prince, but of sensitive abstruse temper;—held under heavy tutelage by his Raths and Theologians; and spurting up against them, in explosive rebellion, from time to time. He now (1568) was to be sovereign Duke of Preussen, and the one representative of the Culmbach Line in that fine Territory; Margraf George Friedrich of Anspach, the only other Culmbacher, being childless, though wedded.
We need not doubt, the Brandenburg House—old Kurfurst Joachim II. still alive, and thrifty Johann George the Heir-Apparent—kept a watchful eye on those emergencies. But it was difficult to interfere directly; the native Prussian Raths were very jealous, and Poland itself was a ticklish Sovereignty to deal with. Albert Friedrich being still a Minor, the Polish King, Sigismund, proposed to undertake the guardianship of him, as became a superior lord to a subject vassal on such an occasion. But the Prussian Raths assured his Majesty, "Their young Prince was of such a lively intellect, he was perfectly fit to conduct the affairs of the Government," especially with such a Body of expert Councillors to help him, "and might be at once declared of age." Which was accordingly the course followed; Poland caring little for it; Brandenburg digesting the arrangement as it could. And thus it continued for some years, even under new difficulties that arose; the official Clique of Raths being the real Government of the Country; and poor young Albert Friedrich bursting out occasionally into tears against them, occasionally into futile humors of a fiery nature. Osiander-Theology, and the battle of the 'DOXIES, ran very high; nor was Prussian Officiality a beautiful thing.
These Prussian Raths, and the Prussian RITTERSCHAFT generally (Knightage, Land-Aristocracy), which had its STANDE (States: or meetings of Parliament after a sort), were all along of a mutinous, contumacious humor. The idea had got into their minds, That they were by birth what the ancient Ritters by election had been; entitled, fit or not fit, to share the Government promotions among them: "The Duke is hereditary in his office; why not we? All Offices, are they not, by nature, ours to share among us?" The Duke's notion, again, was to have the work of his Offices effectually done; small matter by whom: the Ritters looked less to that side of the question;—regarded any "Foreigner" (German-Anspacher, or other Non-Prussian), whatever his merit, as an intruder, usurper, or kind of thief, when seen in office. Their contentions, contumacies and pretensions were accordingly manifold. They had dreams of an "Aristocratic Republic, with the Sovereign reduced to zero," like what their Polish neighbors grew to. They had various dreams; and individuals among them broke out, from time to time, into high acts of insolence and mutiny. It took a hundred and fifty years of Brandenburg horse-breaking, sometimes with sharp manipulation and a potent curb-bit, to dispossess them of that notion, and make them go steadily in harness. Which also, however, was at last got done by the Hohenzollerns.
OF DUKE ALBERT FRIEDRICH'S MARRIAGE: WHO HIS WIFE WAS, AND WHAT HER POSSIBLE DOWRY.
In a year or two, there came to be question of the marrying of young Duke Albert Friedrich. After due consultation, the Princess fixed upon was Maria Eleonora, eldest Daughter of the then Duke of Cleve: to him a proper Embassy was sent with that object; and came back with Yes for answer. Duke of Cleve, at that time, was Wilhelm, called "the Rich" in History-Books; a Sovereign of some extent in those lower Rhine countries. Whom I can connect with the English reader's memory in no readier way than by the fact, That he was younger brother, one year younger, of a certain "Anne of Cleves;"—a large fat Lady, who was rather scurvily used in this country; being called, by Henry VIII. and us, a "great Flanders mare," unsuitable for espousal with a King of delicate feelings! This Anne of Cleves, who took matters quietly and lived on her pension, when rejected by King Henry, was Aunt of the young Lady now in question for Preussen. She was still alive here in England, pleasantly quiet, "at Burley on the Hill," till Maria Eleonora was seven years old;—who possibly enough still reads in her memory some fading vestige of new black frocks or trimmings, and brief court-mourning, on the death of poor Aunt Anne over seas.—Another Aunt is more honorably distinguished; Sibylla, Wife of our noble Saxon Elector, Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous, who lost his Electorate and almost his Life for religion's sake, as we have seen; by whom, in his perils and distresses, Sibylla stood always, like a very true and noble Wife.
Duke Wilhelm himself was a man of considerable mark in his day. His Duchy of Cleve included not only Cleve-Proper, but Julich (JULIERS), Berg, which latter pair of Duchies were a better thing than Cleve-Proper:—Julich, Berg and various other small Principalities, which, gradually agglomerating by marriage, heritage and the chance of events in successive centuries, had at length come all into Wilhelm's hands; so that he got the name of Wilhelm the Rich among his contemporaries. He seems to have been of a headlong, blustery, uncertain disposition; much tossed about in the controversies of his day. At one time he was a Protestant declared; not without reasons of various kinds. The Duchy of Geldern (what we call GUELDERS) had fallen to him, by express bequest of the last Owner, whose Line was out; and Wilhelm took possession. But the Kaiser Karl V. quite refused to let him keep possession. Whereupon Wilhelm had joined with the French (it was in the Moritz-Alcibiades time); had declared war, and taken other high measures: but it came to nothing, or to less. The end was, Wilhelm had to "come upon his knees" before the Kaiser, and beg forgiveness; quite renouncing Geldern, which accordingly has gone its own different road ever since. Wilhelm was zealously Protestant in those days; as his people are, and as he still is, at the period we treat of. But he went into Papistry, not long after; and made other sudden turns and misventures: to all appearance, rather an abrupt, blustery, uncertain Herr. It is to him that Albert Friedrich, the young Duke of Preussen, guided by his Council, now (Year 1572) sends an Embassy, demanding his eldest Daughter, Maria Eleonora, to wife.
Duke Wilhelm answered Yea; "sent a Counter-Embassy," with whatever else was necessary; and in due time the young Bride, with her Father, set out towards Preussen, such being the arrangement, there to complete the matter. They had got as far as Berlin, warmly welcomed by the Kurfurst Johann George; when, from Konigsberg, a sad message reached them: namely, that the young Duke had suddenly been seized with an invincible depression and overclouding of mind, not quite to be characterized by the name of madness, but still less by that of perfect sanity. His eagerness to see his Bride was the same as formerly; but his spiritual health was in the questionable state described. The young Lady paused for a little, in such mood as we may fancy. She had already lost two offers, Bridegrooms snatched away by death, says Pauli; [Pauli, iv. 512.] and thought it might be ominous to refuse the third. So she decided to go on; dashed aside her father's doubts; sent her unhealthy Bridegroom "a flower-garland as love-token," who duly responded; and Father Wilhelm and she proceeded, as if nothing were wrong. The spiritual state of the Prince, she found, had not been exaggerated to her. His humors and ways were strange, questionable; other than one could have wished. Such as he was, however, she wedded him on the appointed terms;—hoping probably for a recovery, which never came.
The case of Albert's malady is to this day dim; and strange tales are current as to the origin of it, which the curious in Physiology may consult; they are not fit for reporting here. [Ib. iv. 476.] It seems to have consisted in an overclouding, rather than a total ruin of the mind. Incurable depression there was; gloomy torpor alternating with fits of vehement activity or suffering; great discontinuity at all times:—evident unfitness for business. It was long hoped he might recover. And Doctors in Divinity and in Medicine undertook him: Theologians, Exorcists, Physicians, Quacks; but no cure came of it, nothing but mutual condemnations, violences and even execrations, from the said Doctors and their respective Official patrons, lay and clerical. Must have been such a scene for a young Wife as has seldom occurred, in romance or reality! Children continued to be born; daughter after daughter; but no son that lived.
MARGRAF GEORGE FRIEDRICH COMES TO PREUSSEN TO ADMINISTER.
After five years' space, in 1578, [Pauli, iv. 476, 481, 482.] cure being now hopeless, and the very Council admitting that the Duke was incapable of business,—George Friedrich of Anspach-Baireuth came into the country to take charge of him; having already, he and the other Brandenburgers, negotiated the matter with the King of Poland, in whose power it mostly lay.
George Friedrich was by no means welcome to the Prussian Council, nor to the Wife, nor to the Landed Aristocracy;—other than welcome, for reasons we can guess. But he proved, in the judgment of all fair witnesses, an excellent Governor; and, for six-and-twenty years, administered the country with great and lasting advantage to it. His Portraits represent to us a large ponderous figure of a man, very fat in his latter years; with an air of honest sense, dignity, composed solidity;—very fit for the task now on hand.
He resolutely, though in mild form, smoothed down the flaming fires of his Clergy; commanding now this controversy and then that other controversy ("de concreto et de inconcreto," or whatever they were) to fall strictly silent; to carry themselves on by thought and meditation merely, and without words. He tamed the mutinous Aristocracy, the mutinous Burgermeisters, Town-Council of Konigsberg, whatever mutiny there was. He drained bogs, says old Rentsch; he felled woods, made roads, established inns. Prussia was well governed till George's death; which happened in the year 1603. [Rentsch, pp. 666-688.] Anspach, in the mean while, Anspach, Baireuth and Jagerndorf, which were latterly all his, he had governed by deputy; no need of visiting those quiet countries, except for purposes of kindly recreation, or for a swift general supervision, now and then. By all accounts, an excellent, steadfast, wise and just man, this fat George Friedrich; worthy of the Father that produced him ("Nit Kop ab, lover Forst, nit Kop ab!"),—- and that is saying much.
By his death without children much territory fell home to the Elder House; to be disposed of as was settled in the GERA BOND five years before. Anspach and Baireuth went to two Brothers of the now Elector, Kurfurst Joachim Friedrich, sons of Johann George of blessed memory: founders, they, of the "New Line," of whom we know. Jagerndorf the Elector himself got; and he, not long after, settled it on one of his own sons, a new Johann George, who at that time was fallen rather landless and out of a career: "Johann George of Jagerndorf," so called thenceforth: whose history will concern us by and by. Preussen was to be incorporated with the Electorate,—were possession of it once had. But that is a ticklish point; still ticklish in spite of rights, and liable to perverse accidents that may arise.
Joachim Friedrich, as we intimated once, was not wanting to himself on this occasion. But the affair was full of intricacies; a very wasps'-nest of angry humors; and required to be handled with delicacy, though with force and decision. Joachim Friedrich's eldest Son, Johann Sigismund, Electoral Prince of Brandenburg, had already, in 1594, married one of Albert Friedrich the hypochondriac Duke of Preussen's daughters; and there was a promising family of children; no lack of children. Nevertheless prudent Joachim Friedrich himself, now a widower, age towards sixty, did farther, in the present emergency, marry another of these Princesses, a younger Sister of his Son's Wife,—seven months after George Friedrich's death,—to make assurance doubly sure, A man not to be balked, if he can help it. By virtue of excellent management,—Duchess, Prussian STANDE (States), and Polish Crown, needing all to be contented,—Joachim Friedrich, with gentle strong pressure, did furthermore squeeze his way into the actual Guardianship of Preussen and the imbecile Duke, which was his by right. This latter feat he achieved in the course of another year (11th March, 1605); [Stenzel, i. 358.] and thereby fairly got hold of Preussen; which he grasped, "knuckles-white," as we may say; and which his descendants have never quitted since.
Good management was very necessary. The thing was difficult;—and also was of more importance than we yet altogether see. Not Preussen only, but a still better country, the Duchy of Cleve, Cleve-Julich, Duke Wilhelm's Heritage down in the Rhineland,—Heritage turning out now to be of right his eldest Daughter's here, and likely now to drop soon,—is involved in the thing. This first crisis, of getting into the Prussian Administratorship, fallen vacant, our vigilant Kurfurst Joachim Friedrich has successfully managed; and he holds his grip, knuckles-white. Before long, a second crisis comes; where also he will have to grasp decisively in,—he, or those that stand for him, and whose knuckles can still hold, But that may go to a new Chapter.
Chapter XIII. — NINTH KURFURST, JOHANN SIGISMUND.
In the summer of 1608 (23d May, 1608) Johann Sigismund's (and his Father's) Mother-in-law, the poor Wife of the poor imbecile Duke of Preussen, died. [Maria Eleonora, Duke Wilhelm of Cleve's eldest Daughter: 1550, 1573, 1608 (Hubner, t. 286).] Upon which Johann Sigismund, Heir-Apparent of Brandenburg and its expectancies, was instantly despatched from Berlin, to gather up the threads cut loose by that event, and see that the matter took no damage. On the road thither news reached him that his own Father, old Joachim Friedrich, was dead (18th July, 1608); that he himself was now Kurfurst; [1572, 1608-1619.] and that numerous threads were loose at both ends of his affairs.
The "young man"—not now so young, being full thirty-five and of fair experience—was in difficulty, under these overwhelming tidings; and puzzled, for a little, whether to advance or to return. He decided to advance, and settle Prussian matters, where the peril and the risk were; Brandenburg business he could do by rescripts.
His difficulties in Preussen, and at the Polish Court, were in fact immense. But after a space of eight or nine months, he did, by excellent management, not sparing money judiciously laid out on individuals, arrive at some adjustment, better or worse, and got Preussen in hand; [29th April, 1609. Stenzel, i. 370.] legal Administrator of the imbecile Duke, as his Father had been. After which he had to run for Brandenburg, without loss of time: great matters being there in the wind. Nothing wrong in Brandenburg, indeed; but the great Cleve Heritage is dropping, has dropped; over in Cleve, an immense expectancy is now come to the point of deciding itself.
HOW THE CLEVE HERITAGE DROPPED, AND MANY SPRANG TO PICK IT UP.
Wilhelm of Cleve, the explosive Duke, whom we saw at Berlin and Konigsberg at the wedding of this poor Lady now deceased, had in the marriage-contract, as he did in all subsequent contracts and deeds of like nature, announced a Settlement of his Estates, which was now become of the highest moment for Johann Sigismund. The Country at that time called Duchy of Cleve, consisted, as we said above, not only of Cleve-Proper, but of two other still better Duchies, Julich and Berg; then of the GRAFSCHAFT (County) of Ravensburg, County of Mark, Lordship of—-In fact it was a multifarious agglomerate of many little countries, gathered by marriage, heritage and luck, in the course of centuries, and now united in the hand of this Duke Wilhelm. It amounted perhaps to two Yorkshires in extent. [See Busching, Erdbeschreibung, v. 642-734.] A naturally opulent Country, of fertile meadows, shipping capabilities, metalliferous hills; and, at this time, in consequence of the Dutch-Spanish War, and the multitude of Protestant refugees, it was getting filled with ingenious industries; and rising to be, what it still is, the busiest quarter of Germany. A Country lowing with kine; the hum of the flax-spindle heard in its cottages, in those old days,—"much of the linen called Hollands is made in Julich, and only bleached, stamped and sold, by the Dutch," says Busching. A Country, in our days, which is shrouded at short intervals with the due canopy of coal-smoke, and loud with sounds of the anvil and the loom.
This Duchy of Cleve, all this fine agglomerate of Duchies, Duke Wilhelm settled, were to be inherited in a piece, by his eldest (or indeed, as it soon proved, his only) Son and the heirs of that Son, if there were any. Failing heirs of that only Son, then the entire Duchy of Cleve was to go to Maria Eleonora as eldest Daughter, now marrying to Friedrich Albert, Duke of Prussia, and to their heirs lawfully begotten: heirs female, if there happened to be no male. The other Sisters, of whom there were three, were none of them to have the least pretence to inherit Cleve or any part of it. On the contrary, they were, in such event, of the eldest Daughter or her heirs coming to inherit Cleve, to have each of them a sum of ready money paid ["200,000 GOLDGULDEN," about 100,000 pounds; Pauli, vi. 542; iii. 504.] by the said inheritrix of Cleve or her heirs; and on receiving that, were to consider their claims entirely fulfilled, and to cease thinking of Cleve for the future.
This Settlement, by express privilege of Kaiser Karl V., nay of Kaiser Maximilian before him, and the Laws of the Reich, Duke Wilhelm doubted not he was entitled to make; and this Settlement he made; his Lawyers writing down the terms, in their wearisome way, perhaps six times over; and struggling by all methods to guard against the least misunderstanding. Cleve with all its appurtenances, Julich, Berg and the rest, goes to the eldest Sister and her heirs, male or female: If she have no heirs, male or female, then, but not till then, the next Sister steps into her shoes in that matter: but if she have, then, we repeat for the sixth and last time, no Sister or Sister's Representative has the least word to say to it, but takes her 100,000 pounds, and ceases thinking of Cleve.
The other three Sisters were all gradually married;—one of them to Pfalz-Neuburg, an eminent Prince, in the Bavarian region called the OBER-PFALZ (Upper Palatinate), who, or at least whose eldest Son, is much worth mentioning and remembering by us here;—and, in all these marriage-contracts, Wilhelm and his Lawyers expressed themselves to the like effect, and in the like elaborate sixfold manner: so that Wilhelm and they thought there could nowhere in the world be any doubt about it.
Shortly after signing the last of these marriage-contracts, or perhaps it was in the course of signing them, Duke Wilhelm had a stroke of palsy. He had, before that, gone into Papistry again, poor man. The truth is, he had repeated strokes; and being an abrupt, explosive Herr, he at last quite yielded to palsy; and sank slowly out of the world, in a cloud of semi-insanity, which lasted almost twenty years. [Died 25th January, 1592, age 76.] Duke Wilhelm did leave a Son, Johann Wilhelm, who succeeded him as Duke. But this Son also proved explosive; went half and at length wholly insane. Jesuit Priests, and their intrigues to bring back a Protestant country to the bosom of the Church, wrapped the poor man, all his days, as in a burning Nessus'-Shirt; and he did little but mischief in the world. He married, had no children; he accused his innocent Wife, the Jesuits and he, of infidelity. Got her judged, not properly sentenced; and then strangled her, he and they, in her bed:—"Jacobea of Baden (1597);" a thrice-tragic history. Then he married again; Jesuits being extremely anxious for an Orthodox heir: but again there came no heir; there came only new blazings of the Nessus'-Shirt. In fine, the poor man died (Spring, 1609), and made the world rid of him. Died 25th March, 1609; that is the precise date;—about a month before our new Elector, Johann Sigismund, got his affairs winded up at the Polish Court, and came galloping home in such haste. There was pressing need of him in the Cleve regions.