So determined were the Five Cantons, especially since the Conference at Baden, only to acknowledge in the future those of their Confederate-sisters as such, who would adhere along with them to the former doctrines of the church. What authority they arrogated to themselves in this respect over the others, is plainly visible in their behavior toward Bern. Notwithstanding her repeated requests, the acts of the Baden Conference were not communicated to her; her conduct was subjected to severe censure, and it was resolved to send thither a delegation to confirm the alliance by an oath; but only after the Great Council and the consulting deputies of the districts had declared solemnly beforehand, that Bern would not desert the Five Cantons in matters of faith, yea, would even recall her former grant in favor of the free interpretation of the Scriptures. Indeed, she was obliged to draw up a sealed declaration to this effect. But with that even the Five Cantons were not satisfied. "A command"—so it is enjoined in the letters of their Conference at Luzern—"shall be given to our envoys at the swearing of the treaty as to what more shall be said to our Confederates at Bern, which they shall indeed hear." What this may have been will become intelligible to us, when we have taken a nearer view of the religious and political condition of Bern, as it then was.
From the earliest period of the Confederacy down, a mutual friendship had existed between Bern and Zurich. In the old wars against Zurich, when all the Confederates appeared in hostile array against her, Bern had stood out for a long time; and at great sacrifice, had endeavored to bring about a reconciliation, and was the first to reach out again the hand of peace. She thankfully acknowledged the true help, which Zurich had afforded her in the Burgundian wars. Not seldom was she solicited to act as mediator, in disputes, which Zurich had with her own subjects, and always discharged her commission with kindness and honor. In the quarrels also with other states, arising in consequence of the reforms in Zurich, she took no part in the hostile measures contrived against her, and the insults offered to her ambassadors; on the contrary, did all she could to preserve peace. But a short time before the Conference at Baden, she had publicly declared: "Though our dear Confederates of Zurich should not be willing to accept the proposals of compromise drawn up by us, we have still unanimously resolved neither to separate from them nor from our other allies, but faithfully to adhere to all sworn treaties." This was the disposition of the canton; this the policy of the government, which, among all the Swiss states, was the least inclined perhaps to enter into religious polemics and ecclesiastical movements. Political and warlike interests prevailed with it; with the people, those of a material nature. Become wealthy by agriculture, rejoicing in ease and prosperity, they felt little need of subjecting their faith to trial, and had just as little occasion to defend it at any great sacrifice. In spiritual matters they stuck to their leaders, whose contrary views, especially since the Conference at Baden, began to show a bolder antagonism. And yet it was rather the external form than the inward substance, which they regarded; the usages of the church, rather than the dogmas, which they assailed; the dominion rather than the teachings of the priests, against which they rose up. The mode of conflict was also different. Teachers were closely watched; great caution enjoined on the preachers; attacks on points of faith not suffered either in the pulpit or in disputations; and yet, on the other hand, fully as much freedom of speech prevailed in private life as in Zurich: the nuns of gentle birth in K[oe]nigsfeld left their convent and married without hindrance, and even the head of the priestly order, Provost Nicholas von Wattenweil, had taken to wife Clara Mai, a Dominican sister of the Convent in the Island. Amid storms of applause, the Banneret Manuel had allowed a play to be performed publicly in the Street of the Cross by a young burgher, in which the church authorities, the cardinals, the traffic of indulgences and various ceremonies were held up to ridicule. The powers then ruling had no special esteem for the Pope, and would not tolerate the supremacy of any bishops, but just as little also the commanding influence of a reformer. Such a state of things could not last long in any case, but the very means, by which the Five Cantons hoped to prevent the breach, led directly to it. These were their assumptions of guardianship; their legations; their letters and strictures, on every ordinance of the Council in Bern, which they did not like; the conduct of their envoys at the swearing of the treaty in that place; their request that the deputies of Zurich sent for this purpose might not be admitted to witness the ceremony; their private conferences, to which Bern also was not invited; their incessant appeals to that sealed promise, which had been extorted only under the protests of many and to the dissatisfaction of a large portion of the people, and lastly, their threats to appear before the Bernese districts. Yet it was Thomas Murner, who finally brought the matter to an issue. If Eck and Faber were undoubtedly fitted by their noble external appearance—their scientific and worldly training, to gain influence among the higher classes, so was the barefooted monk not less the man, to work upon the multitude: to inspire some with enthusiasm and rouse up others to anger. We have seen with what dogmatical, cunning and rude language he assailed, at Baden, not only Zwingli, but the Zurichers, and all the adherents of the Reformer, to the great displeasure of many, especially the Bernese. The publication of the Acts of the Disputation was now committed to this man, by the government at Luzern. In compliance with truth, it must be said, that he was guilty of no falsification; for the printed copy agrees accurately with the manuscripts of the four secretaries, which are still extant; but they would not believe this in Basel or Bern, without comparing the documents, on account of the violent assertions contained in other writings which he then published. Among these, everything else was eclipsed by the so-called Libel Almanac, whose appearance, with its vulgar wit, its coarse language and its blood-thirsty spirit, was demanded by party-hatred. The almanac of the Zurichers gave rise to its publication, because they had omitted the names of the saints. Instead of these, those of the Reformers and their most prominent adherents were now introduced under opprobrious epithets, with printed caricatures alongside. It was issued in Luzern—tinder the eyes of the government—and widely circulated. And as the preachers and other respectable men of Bern were not spared in it, the government demanded satisfaction—indeed united with that of Zurich for this purpose. These two states were thus drawn nearer and nearer together. The former appeared at the conferences instituted by the latter in opposition to those of the Five Cantons, and when, on Easter Tuesday of the year 1527, the election for the Councils arrived, the friends of reform carried the day by a decisive victory. Some of the most violent of their opponents were ousted from both Councils, and several others, among whom was Caspar von Muelinen, before mentioned as deputy at Baden, were obliged to go back from the Small to the Great Council; but the question was put to all the districts of the Canton, whether, in order to please the Five Cantons, they would adhere to that forced resolution to alter nothing in matters of religion, which would only lead to difficulty, and since it had been published, had produced nothing but hate and discord? The number of persons in city and canton, who were decidedly in favor of it, was small, and hence the ordinance was issued by both Councils, that the free preaching of the Gospel should be restored, exercised and protected, but that no changes should be allowed in the use of the sacraments and churchly customs, except by general consent and approbation.
But whilst these things were taking place in Bern, another storm was brewing among the enemies of the Reformation at Zurich. Notwithstanding all that had gone before, some were still found here, who secretly drew pensions, and these in unison with the discontented clergy, formed a dangerous party, whose hopes were newly revived by the result of the Conference in Baden. To them Zwingli's opponents in the other cantons silently turned, and the Reformer was threatened with a new battle. Let us hear his own description of it, in a letter to his friends in Basel and Strassburg: "For some time back, a great deal of movement, a bustling and joyful assembling has been observed in the troop of our Catilinarians, as soon as the cause of the Gospel met with any difficulty in the way. It was clear as sunlight that these people would attempt the same thing, as those whose infamous deeds cannot be unknown to you, who have read the writings of Cicero and Sallust. I confess, that, when their speeches and actions more and more plainly betrayed their plans hitherto concealed, I, on my part, began to sound the alarm of treason. I succeeded also, in spite of the boldness and hypocrisy with which they came out against me, in intimidating their fortress, in undermining their walls. They believed that they had been unobserved. I gave them to understand that this was not the case, and that I myself could perhaps make a disclosure. It happened thus. I found myself, without their knowledge, in possession of a certain letter, and had gleaned besides something here and there. Hereupon the better portion of the people, who desired to put an end to intrigues, succeeded so far that a dictatorship was instituted, not indeed after the fashion of the Romans, in the person of a single individual, but a commission of twelve men, who received authority to apprehend and try. The investigation begins. Much comes to light, some things important and some not. Now, Grebel, the father of Conrad, the leader of the Anabaptists, is beheaded. He, who stood in the highest consideration amongst us, had received from the Emperor, the King of France and the Pope more than 1000 gold-florins under pretence of benefits bestowed on his son. Several escaped, for the gates were negligently guarded; one on a cart, concealed under a load of rubbish and dung. Another, a hunchbacked man, was put to the rack. The dictatorship and investigation still continue. As for me, I exhort some to take example from such a result, and others to aid in rooting up the evil."
The hatred of the defeated party, their friends and their followers, may easily be imagined. But for once there was no prospect of a speedy revenge. Several attempts on their behalf were made in the canton without success. To Buelach, where something had been undertaken in favor of the criminals, the government wrote: "We hear that you venture to hold meetings on account of the punishments we have inflicted on the disobedient and invite others thither. This sounds badly in face of your solemn pledges, to give the go-by to all foreign lords. Cease from such intrigues, or we will take the matter in hand for you with such earnestness and boldness, that, with the help of God, we will become your masters, and not you ours." Respect for the Reformer grew; his influence began to spread widely, even, beyond the limits of the canton.
After the narration of these events, we turn back again to the affairs of Bern. The power of this state, the ideas, which were entertained of the sagacity of its rulers, made it evident, that, just as the case was decided here, so would it be in a good portion of the Confederacy. And now, within the walls of Bern, Zurich and the Five Cantons had to fight their next battle. They did it first by embassies; but whilst the Zurichers deported themselves with modesty, the Five Cantons used rough, domineering language, which found no approval even from those, who otherwise were not well inclined toward the Reformation. But the Bernese felt more and more sensibly the inconvenience arising from the discord, which passed over from the sphere of religion into that of their politics. Both parties longed for a decision. The proposal to hold a religious conference of their own, met with growing favor. Both parties counted on victory. The opponents of the Reformation grounded their hopes on the issue of the Conference at Baden, and on the aid promised them by Conrad Treger of Freiburg, Provincial of the Augustines, who had some reputation for learning. Haller and his friends turned their eyes to Zwingli. They did not rest until the Council, which at first intended to restrict the invitation to the Conference to narrower limits, had extended it to the whole Confederacy. In the most anxious letters Haller entreated the Reformer not to remain away. He Bent the theses drawn up by him and his colleague, Francis Kolb, to Zwingli for revision, with the request to have them printed in Zurich. The town-clerk of Bern did the same thing, in the name of the Council. Zwingli promised, sent books and advice, and spread the Bernese letters of invitation also among his friends in Germany. "We have," Haller had written, "the wolf by the ears, but only between door and hinge, and do not know how to deal with him. Therefore, there is some hope among all good Christians here that thou wilt come. Thou knowest what is now laid on Bern, and what great scandal, scorn and shame would at once fall upon the Gospel and us, if we should not prove sufficient for the task. The burgomaster Roist, when he was last here, gave us to hope, that he would also come. Have no fear of way-laying, our government will provide for your safe-conduct. Believe me, many call for you. But others prophesy that my Lords will not make much out of the disputation, and the last disappointment will be greater than the first. Stand by me, or rather undertake it thyself. I have written to [OE]colampadius, but do not know whether he will come; he has answered that he would like Zwingli to support us. Summa; He has bathed, (gebadet), thou shouldst lead the bear-dance."
Zurich had heard the resolution of the Bernese with great joy. Immediately a public safe-conduct was made out for all travelers to Bern, and attendance at the Conference recommended to all belonging to the canton, especially to the priests, who had not yet joined in the Reformation; but Zwingli, who had urgently begged for permission, was commanded to go thither, and the learned Pellikan and Collin, along with the preacher Megander, to assist him, all at the expense of the government.
What anxiety, on the other hand, this disputation created among the Five Cantons, appears from their attempts to prevent it. Immediately after the resolution of Bern was made known to them, by her public proclamation, they called together a conference in Luzern, at which also Freiburg, Solothurn and Glarus were represented. A letter of warning was there resolved on. The Five Cantons believed, moreover, it should be drawn up, less in the name of their governments than in that of the Confederacy. From that very moment, when they began to fear, lest other states would likewise venture to unite with Zurich, their strenuous efforts were directed to the preservation at least of a majority of votes in the General Diet. In this they could not fail. They were sure of Freiburg, they counted on Solothurn, but Glarus they endeavored to secure by the same means which had proved abortive with Bern. Here, however, they seemed to succeed better. In fact, the general assembly of the canton handed over at their request a sealed promise not to separate themselves in matters of faith. In this posture of affairs, they held immoveably firm to the opinion, that whatever seven or eight out of thirteen states thought fit, should be considered the decision of the Confederacy. But our whole earlier history shows how varying the practice was in this respect, how single cantons, how a united minority of them often refused to acknowledge the resolutions of the majority; how differently the very Articles of Confederation themselves, and their right to enforce obedience were explained, or stretched, to suit particular cases. But, if ever it was their design to justify the political liberty of each individual member of the Confederacy, then surely it must be so in matters of religion, which are nowhere touched on in the letter of these Articles, whilst the dominion of one over the consciences of the others, is far less in harmony with their spirit.
So had Zurich looked upon the matter from the beginning. So was it now regarded by Bern, with a more decided purpose not to surrender the principle involved. From this time forth two parties began to form themselves in our country, who were diametrically opposed in their views of the nature and obligations of the Articles of Confederacy. The question at first by no means took the same shape as it did in later times: Shall only one ecclesiastical system, or several, be allowed within the limits of a single state? much less that which it now holds in America: Shall the state not concern itself at all about the religious creed of its citizens? Religion and politics, church and state were then thought to be inseparably bound together. Only this was asked: Shall a single state choose its own ecclesiastical system, or be suffered to change it by its own sovereign authority? or has it no such right? Must law be given to it perpetually from without, by a power which stands over it, which even has its head on the other side of the Alps? The Five Cantons, who adhered to the latter view without faltering, were not willing to maintain it merely within their own limits, but wished to have it uttered and acknowledged as a fundamental principle of the Confederacy, and the minority to submit to the majority in its application.
This shows itself plainly in the contents of a letter sent by them to Bern, directly before the Religious Conference held there. "Truly," so it runs, "with no less fear than wonder have we, dear Confederates, received your notice of a conference. What can have induced you to make such a move—you, who not two years ago would have esteemed an undertaking of that kind contrary to all honesty. Christian order and law, and a breach of old usages and sworn treaties? and so we esteem it. Whence comes it? Ah, God mend it! only because you have given too long a rein to your seditious, wicked preachers. They have persuaded you to this thing, in order to color somewhat, and in some measure to plaster over with a deceitful show their defeat at Baden, where by the might and splendor of the truth, by the Holy Scripture itself, they were struck to the earth as blind men. Remember what you and yours swore together with us, for which you gave us sealed documents, yet in our possession. Therefore, we beseech you, in the most pressing and earnest manner: Abandon your project. Lot us know, whether you will do this. On Sunday before New Year the deputies of the VIII. Cantons will be in Luzern. On that day we will look for your answer to this effect. But if all this warning is of no avail, then we desire you to summon your bailiwicks on a certain day previous to the disputation, and give us notice of that day in due time. Then will our Lords and Superiors send their embassy to you, and speak with you and yours, not otherwise than becomes propriety, and is necessary and convenient for us; and, if God will, you and yours, us and ours will be preserved from great misfortune and harm. Meanwhile, perhaps, rude speakers may exhort you not to suffer yourselves to be lorded over by. several cantons, ruled, taught, and compelled to believe what may be pleasing to them.
"Ah, dear Confederates! Neither our Lords and Superiors, nor we, ever had any disposition to rule and lord it over you. We bring and compel you to receive no new faith. What is our desire and thought? Only that you and we may remain with each other, dwell peaceably together and rule as your and our forefathers did in the old, true, Christian faith. In this your ancestors and yourselves, your canton and your people have reached great honor. In this did you become Confederates. In this have your ancestors and ours, you and we gained many honorable victories. God be praised therefor! With such a faith, and with the universal Christian Church we desire to remain, and pray God from the heart that He would prevent you by His grace from separating, not alone from us Eight Cantons, but much more from all Christendom."
Yet this letter, although made out in the names of the Eight Cantons, was not signed by Glarus and Solothurn; not by Glarus, because there also public opinion was rising up more and more in favor of Zwingli's reforms, which obliged the deputies to be very guarded; not by Solothurn, because she hesitated about expressing herself so strongly to her neighbor Bern, to whom she was bound by so many ties. Its imperious language, though couched in soothing terms, was ill suited to prevail with Bern. It roused there a feeling of proud independence, and how deep a wound it made, appears from the answer:
"You begin your letter to us with reproaches of dishonor. Faithful, dear Confederates, we had expected better things of you. What we did was done for the Christian purpose of honoring God. We hope that treaties have in no wise been violated thereby; but, indeed, we would commend to your consideration, whether the insolent and haughty letter of your envoys be in accordance with them. You conjecture that our preachers have been the occasion of this Conference, in order to repair their injuries at Baden, and color over their defeat. Dear Confederates, you should not deem us such persons as ever to rest upon any class of men the ground and assurance of our true, primitive, Christian faith. Still less can we discover that we have given them too long a rein, because you are ill pleased that we suffer the uncorrupted Word of God to be preached and spread every where amongst us. Far be it from us to cut ourselves off from the Christian Church, whose head is Christ himself; much rather would we do, what becomes good Christians, defend and protect her. And since you remind us of our sealed document, although we are obliged to give neither you nor others an answer concerning it, yet we freely admit that we swore on that day an oath, on account of faith, not of the Confederacy, but in no wise pledged ourselves to you or others to believe what you or they believe. That your forefathers and ours entered into the Confederacy and took oaths of friendship in the same faith we do not deny. But what they at the same time held in their hearts is known to God alone. Had they become so well acquainted with the treachery of Antichrist as you and we, they would hardly have remained so long in error. Since then you invite us to summon our bailiwicks, so that your envoys may appear before us and them, know ye, that such a step is not in accordance with the Articles of Confederation, and we therefore desire you to abstain from it. And since you suppose there are rude people amongst us, who say they do not wish to be lorded over by other cantons, nor ruled, nor compelled to believe—there is truth in it. We are just as unwilling to go beyond the Articles of Confederation, when asked by you, as you would be, if asked by us; we will, by no means, suffer or permit this. Finally, we understand that unfriendly missives against us have been printed in Luzern, and it cannot be forgotten by you, what was formerly decreed at the Diet on this account. We pray you, therefore, to put a stop to it, else we shall be obliged to print replies. This is what we send you in way of answer to the letter of your envoys, so that henceforth you may know how to negotiate in the matter, and guard against such insolent, disgraceful writing."
The Five Cantons responded to this provoking language by unfriendly measures. They refused their subjects permission to go to Bern, and denied a safe-conduct to travelers who passed through their boundaries. The government of Luzern, excited to the highest pitch of hostility by the passionate Doctor Murner, did not prevent him from attacking Bern and her government in the most unmeasured style in various libelous writings, issued by a printing-house of his own. All this increased the hatred toward that state and the favorable inclination toward Zurich.
Here collected, in the meantime, all those persons from Eastern Switzerland and the neighboring parts of Germany, who intended to be present at the conflict in Bern. On New Year's evening fifteen hundred and twenty-eight were entertained at the chamber of the Canons by the government of Zurich. The day following, preachers and scholars, more than a hundred in number, they set out, surrounded by a troop of armed men to command respect, for it had been rumored that in the free bailiwicks, where the Five Cantons swayed the majority of the rulers, they would be threatened with danger. They reached Bern on the third evening, where also [OE]colampadius and the theologians of Strassburg, Bucer and Capito, had already arrived. Religion had put science in motion. From the union of both, politics were to receive their direction. The events in Bern were to determine the fate of Switzerland. Statesmen as well as scholars acknowledged this. The city had neglected nothing in order to make clear its honor, its rectitude and its hospitality. The government had exhibited firmness on all sides. To the Emperor himself, who in a very earnest tone had issued a positive command to abolish the Conference, it had been replied respectfully, but decidedly, that the preparations had already gone too far to permit this.
On the sixth of January the business was opened in the church of the Franciscans. Of splendid accommodations for one party and mean ones for the other, as at Baden, there was nothing to be seen. Several times were the opponents of the Reformers requested to assist each other. "You see"—said the landvogt Manuel, who was appointed to summon the speakers according to the rules—"how they confess the articles to be good, and faithfully keep together; therefore, I pray and warn you once more, for God's sake, to bring into one place your opposing speakers, and assist each other by counsel, writing and speaking. This our gracious Lords will accept with great gratitude as a favorable token of your good-will."
Into the particulars of the Conference it is not needful to enter here. The whole story and the result are pictured for us in a report, still extant, from the pen of a zealous Catholic, who was an ear-and-eye-witness: "What I have so often said," writes Jacob of Muenster, priest at Solothurn, to a lawyer in Mayence—"has been clearly exhibited at this heretical gathering. We are going downwards, only by our own indolence, and because the head's of our church do nothing for science. Several of our adherents in Bern, hitherto members of the government, had implored the bishops even with threats, to send hither learned men, able to cope with the heretics. No one came; no one sent. At last appeared a certain Augustinian brother. They call him Provincial Conrad Freger. He brought with him skill in talking, but of true eloquence and science I could not discover a trace. When proof from the Scripture was demanded, he traveled off. I found nothing in him but a barefaced monk, although others looked for a prodigy. Still more boisterously did a certain Dominicaster beat about him with passages of Scripture for several days, but in the end showed that he understood no Greek. The best among them was the schoolmaster of Zofingen. They call him The Letter. What he quoted from the writings of the Fathers, in defence of the church, was worth hearing. He knew more than all the others put together; yet sufficient power was lacking in him also. Thus must we mourn over our want of skill and contempt of science. Oh, if Erasmus had only been present! But I should tell you something about the heretics. My bile was stirred up—hence, only a little. They did not appear to me so sure of their cause, that we could not have frightened them, if we did not gain a victory, by able speakers, versed in the Scriptures, which, however, we must confess, are not with us in everything. I often saw them not agreed as to the answer to be given; one often putting anxious questions to the other, often whispering to him. Several were only encouraged and roused up by the pertinacious vehemence of Zwingli. This beast is in fact more learned even than I had thought. The saucy [OE]colampadius may understand the Prophets and the Hebrew language better, and perhaps equal him in Greek, but falls far behind him in fertility of mind, power, and clearness of representation. How Capito should be rated I could not discover. Bucer spoke more. And, if he had the same learning and knowledge of the languages as [OE]colampadius and Zwingli, he would be far more dangerous, so graceful is his gesture and manner, and so pleasant his speech. Thus we stood, wretchedly equipped against the most skillful heretics. Here roared a little mass-priest one moment, and there again another. Alas! they were taught choral singing and nothing else. Honor to that schoolmaster Letter! and yet he himself has not gone beyond the letter. And what was now the issue? Our decided overthrow. How easy it could have been prevented, had our bishops only turned their attention more to humane studies than to base wenches. Thou wilt ask: Is there no longer any hope of mastering this extension of heresy? It is certainly slim. The Luzernese, at the head of the Five Cantons, have taken all possible pains to do this, more, in fact, than all the bishops together; but from our weak defence, the belief has been impressed on the multitude, that we have nothing to defend, and the majority has overcome the better minority. Now the Zurichers can have their own way with them. Thou knowest what cunning they possess and what immoveable constancy."
After the German Conference, which lasted eighteen days, a shorter one followed in the Latin language, for the priests of the bailiwicks of AElen and Granson. William Farell, a learned Frenchman, who for some time had been laboring for the Reformation with the most unwearied zeal, in Western Switzerland, had to do with opponents still more ignorant than those which fell to his German friends. This part of the proceedings was so sadly lacking in earnestness and dignity, that the details of it were not suffered to appear in the Acts of the Conference, which were immediately put to press and published by the government of Bern. Zwingli also exerted a powerful influence upon the city in general, by two sermons. It is narrated, that, during the delivery of one of them, a priest threw off the mass-robe, which he had already put on, with the words: "If the mass does not rest on firmer grounds, I will never celebrate it again." With gratitude the government of Bern gave a liberal recompense to the foreign scholars and ambassadors and an escort until they had passed beyond their borders. Two weeks after the Conference, appeared their detailed ordinance touching the re-organization of the church-system. In it they cut themselves loose from all former connection with the bishops: "Since you"—so they say—"in spite of all prayers and invitations have staid away from the Disputation, and since you indeed shear the poor sheep, but have not pastured them, we deprive you of your selfish trade, and neither we, nor they who come after us, wish to be bound in any way to you or your successors." All deacons and pastors are released from their oath to them, and required henceforth to give it to the government. He who refuses, is to be banished. In regard to the mass, images and monasteries, they will be dealt with as in Zurich. Living benefactors of ecclesiastical institutions are allowed to take back their gifts. For the rest, account shall be afterward rendered to the government. Yet, it is expressly added: "Not that we wish to appropriate such gifts to our own use, as they are still to be called gifts of God, but so to dispose of them that our honor and justice will stand clear before God and the world." Finally, the rules of fasting and celibacy were abolished, but self-government was demanded for the freedom restored. On this point the document speaks thus: "And as we have heretofore punished, in the rate of ten pounds, those who have eaten flesh and eggs on forbidden days, so will we henceforth fine at the same rate all who take more than their nature can bear, pouring it down after the ninth sleeping-cup, and those who drink on and carouse; when they are guilty of it frequently, heavier punishment is reserved, to be laid on each one according to circumstances."
From what has just been narrated, we see the influence exerted by Zwingli upon Bern. Let us now take into consideration the reaction of Bern upon Zwingli. When he began his great work in Zurich, the path of its development could scarcely have been marked out before his eyes. He little thought of political commotion. Even the mischief arising from desertions and pensions, which he only fought against on account of their evil effects on religion and morals, could be prevented without change either in the government of the several states, or in the ground-work, nature or language of the Articles of Confederacy. The refusal of Zurich to take part in the French Alliance awakened displeasure, it is true, among her sister-cantons, but even this was followed by no direct disturbance of her relations with them. Now came the division of the bishopric, already an influential step. A new principle was introduced into the ecclesiastical, which was so closely interwoven with the political life. But this principle was rejected by all the other states up to the Conference of Baden. The Five Cantons and the party belonging to the old faith hoped from this Conference so glorious an acknowledgment of it in the others, that even Zurich would be obliged to submit. It happened otherwise. Bern also fell away from the principle of the Five Cantons. A new idea of the Confederacy began to form itself in opposition to the old; but even here again some difference prevailed. The ecclesiastical reform in Zurich had been effected by appealing to the people and with their aid. By it and through it, also, the democratic tendency in political life attained the victory. Toward the close of the year 1527, no more traces of the activity of a Secret Council are to be found; all business of any importance had to be brought from the Small before the Great Council, from whence the people were generally informed of it, and not seldom asked for their opinion. In particular emergencies, indeed, the Great Council clothed some of its members with dictatorial power, but only for a few weeks and under public accountability. But the more democratic the form of political life becomes, just so much the more indispensable are culture and the religious elevation of the people. The strengthening of a sense of right demands as a necessary counterpoise, an exalted sense of duty. Thus state and church go together, indissoluble in their mutual relations, in consequence of which every commotion in the sphere of one, reacts inevitably on that of the other; but whilst the authority of the state rests upon law and its severe administration, the power of the church ought to be grounded only upon conviction, faith, freedom and love, for these are the requirements as well as the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel. In a democracy the law must be a most complete defence against the wicked; the Gospel the basis of all improvement. As the principles of the church and of the state differ in this way, so do they also in the mode of their use. This difference was clearly apprehended by Zwingli. We see it above. The ecclesiastical and political reforms of Zurich had shaped themselves according to these principles. In all religious matters, conviction was first sought; in all political, proof that the letter of the law would justify or demand it, was sufficient. Whatever may be the relation of the church to the state in other forms of government, this must continue the most suitable for a democracy. Bern, on the other hand, was never democratic. It is true, indeed, that even here ecclesiastical reform was only possible by the removal of some of the most influential heads of the aristocracy, which, however, did not succumb as completely as in Zurich, so that even the friends of the Reformation and of Zwingli, who form the middle class, worked their way into the government, accepted partly from necessity and partly of their own accord, aristocratic forms and principles. The closer the connection between Bern and Zurich now became, the less could a reaction of the former upon the latter be prevented. The commercial city was rather disposed to treat with her subjects, the knightly to issue her commands. In Zurich the Great Council had, through Zwingli's influence, become the ruling authority; in Bern, as might be expected from her character, it was always the Small. As long as the Reformation was confined to Zurich, the ecclesiastical tendency predominated; in proportion as it passed over to Bern, Basel and other states, the political gained the upper hand. The question, whether the Church or the Holy Scriptures ought to decide in matters of faith, was scientific and historical; that, as to how the Articles of Confederation should be interpreted; what was the limit of the Diet's authority, and for what single states might resist a majority of the others, belonged to the sphere of public law. By the accession of Bern to Zurich, and the common position, which they had now to assume and maintain against the Five Cantons, Zwingli was obliged to take up this question touching the Confederacy, to give counsel, to mingle in politics, to tread the slippery path with one foot, as it were, whilst the other remained on the firm foundation of religious principle. The consequences of this vacillating course are apparent, from the beginning of the year 1528 onward, in the striking change manifest in his mode of dealing with the affairs of his own canton. The same man, who hitherto had done homage to the principle of absolute publicity, who expected in favor of Christianity, as he found it in the Holy Scriptures and drew it thence, a more lively acknowledgment from the sound sense of the people than from learned craftiness; from the uncorrupted feelings of men than philosophical arrogance, to whom Christianity was the most elevated—the only worthy religion for a nation; who, therefore, had to look to the people for the maintenance of his reformatory measures; this same man began now to employ all the arts of a politician, for the upholding and spread of these same measures of reform—a bold undertaking, altogether too bold—one that compelled him to play a double part, in which superhuman effort he at last fell a bloody sacrifice. As we proceed, this will become more clear and evident from authenticated facts.
At the time, when Zurich yet stood alone among her sister-confederates, shortly after the Conference of Baden, when her repeated vindication, her fourth complaint against exclusion from the public councils in direct violation of treaties resounded unheard, and her letters to the Five Cantons were no longer read, and threats multiplied, the neighboring imperial city of Constance found herself in a like forsaken condition. There also, through the preaching of Ambrosius Blaarer, a friend of Zwingli, and others, the reformation of the church had made such active progress, that the bishop and the majority of the canons withdrew in anger to Ueberlingen and M[oe]rsburg, and the Emperor caused the city to feel the weight of his displeasure; but the Council, devoted to the new order of things, looked around beyond the walls for support in case of need. The necessity appeared the greater, because the suspicion prevailed among many of the citizens that Austria, sure of the secret approval of the head of the Empire, would use the favorable moment to take possession of a place so well situated on the frontier. The behavior of the Archducal Vicegerent, Marcus Sittich von Ems, strengthened the suspicion. His troopers rode up close to the gates of the city. He himself looked about in the neighborhood for a spot, as he said, on which to pitch a camp. In these straits Constance turned toward Zurich and sought a defensive alliance with her. After long negotiations, conducted in secret, this was at last concluded on the 25th of December, 1527, a few days before the Zurichers set out to the Conference at Bern. They carried the news thither. Bern also, in a certain measure by storm, was won over as a party. As early as the 6th of January, 1528, the very day on which the Religious Conference was opened, the majority of the Great Council expressed their willingness to take the matter in hand. The name given to the Alliance, the Christian Buergerrecht, (Citizen's rights), was easy to understand, not so its spirit. In the ancient treaties the Five Cantons had surrendered the privilege of contracting other alliances without the common consent of all the states; the three original cantons, therefore, could not permit any deliberation among separated cantonal authorities. Zurich, on the contrary, and Bern, at the time of their accession to the Confederacy, had reserved this privilege in writing. As a natural consequence, the ties of the Federal Compact were viewed somewhat differently by its members. To the original cantons they appeared closer; to the cities, especially Zurich, less restrictive. This conflict of opinion had contributed not a little to the duration and violence of the old Zurich War, in the preceding century. Now it revived again, and that at a most unpropitious moment. In the Buergerrecht, stipulations were certainly made in regard to the Emperor and Empire, as well as the Confederates, so that the obligations under which the two cities had come toward them, seemed to be ratified on the face of it; but this same Buergerrecht spoke also of the possibility of warlike expeditions, the division of whatever might be conquered, and the privilege of enlarging and extending itself to other cities and territories. Here lay the manifest germ of a new confederacy, resting on new foundations, and the subsequent movements of Zwingli, since expressions incontestibly show that he, more perhaps than any statesman in Zurich, had thought of such an issue. The further the Reformation advanced, the more did it appear to him an affair of historical developement, the author of new conditions in political life; but to these very changes, many of those, who were favorable to the new religious views, showed themselves decidedly averse; for to them the federal compact, under its existing forms, was a thing to be kept inviolably sacred. The time had come when a two-fold choice was placed before him; either of his own accord to retire altogether from the sphere of politics and, plant himself upon purely religious ground, where he might be unassailable; or else to become more completely a politician, i.e. the soul of a faithful band of the most resolute and able members of the government, who, now in a narrow circle and in profound secrecy, prepared and paved the way for the most important business, such as that for which Zwingli himself, at an earlier period, had demanded the greatest possible publicity. The embarrassment into which his retreat would throw the heads of the government, his unrivalled skill in doing business, the hope, that he might cherish, of seeing his political plans succeed as well as his reforms in the church, his own conviction of their necessity in order to uphold the religious movement, and his peculiar position as the citizen of a free state, who could not, as a man of science, be overlooked in the ordering of his country's affairs—all this together drew him toward the second and more dangerous path.
Although, we observe with concern, that he now takes this path; although a foreboding of the fruitless struggles, which he thus prepared for himself, is awakened within us, there is also at the same time a growing admiration of the power displayed by him, and his persevering activity, not only in the field of politics, but in his vocation as a teacher, preacher, and theological writer, which he yet fulfilled with undiminished fidelity. He, who feels such strength within, durst aim at the very highest. Not in blind hatred of the existing order, would he destroy it: out of party-spirit, pride, or lust for dominion: a noble image of a father-land not split asunder, but made young again, reviving in fuller vigor under new forms, hovered before his soul. Heart and head had contributed to its outlines; nor was its realization, by means of a sincere and general effort, beyond the range of possibility. Can it then be imputed to him as a crime, that so few comprehended his ideal, that the time was not ripe for it?
In Bern, meanwhile, the negotiations touching the Christian Buergerrecht were actively carried on by the government during the Religious Conference, in spite of the opposition, as it appears, of a party averse to the Alliance. Roist and the town-clerk, Mangolt, sent information of this to Zurich in several letters. They spoke of consultations with intimate acquaintances, with trusty friends, and of the confidential but unofficial communications of the latter. Zwingli also, busy as he was during the session of that Diet, aided the Zurich Council by drawing up two opinions for the removal of certain doubts on the part of Schwytz. After a happy issue in ecclesiastical as well as political matters, Zwingli ascended the pulpit once more and took his leave: "Understand now"—so he concluded his discourse—"the liberty, which Christ gives you, and abide therein according to the word of the Apostle. You know under what a yoke our consciences groaned, and how we were led from one false hope to another; from one law to another. But now you see that freedom and hope rest upon knowledge and trust; upon confidence toward God through Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son. Never suffer yourselves to be robbed of freedom and the salvation of your souls. Nothing requires so much courage as this. And as our forefathers, thanks be to God! stood up everywhere bold and unterrified in defence of personal liberty, much more should we stand fast in those things, which give us peace of conscience here and make us eternally joyful hereafter; not doubting that God, who has enlightened and drawn you, will also draw our dear neighbors, the other Confederates, in his own good time, so that we in true friendship, to which right knowledge is in no wise opposed, may become more harmonious than we ever were before. May God, who has created and saves us all, bestow this upon them and us!"
Whilst concord between Zurich and Bern appeared to be restored and their union made stronger than ever, the news of the prevailing alliance was received in Luzern with the liveliest indignation. At a Diet held there, to which he had come on other business, a Bernese ambassador, William von Diessbach, was called to account by the Five Cantons. It is very probable he affirmed that his Lords had a right to make the treaty.—Amid outbursts of displeasure, the session was immediately raised, but after his departure it was again opened. "The Devil take the old faith;" said the Bernese upon the street, "it is no longer tenable." This saying, reported to the sergeants of the Council, increased their wrath. The parties were separated. To organize and strengthen themselves was a natural consequence.
FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER FIFTH:
Footnote 1: No one will think ill of a Protestant for believing that the Catholic church could exist in greater spiritual unity, worth and security under national bishops, primates and patriarchs, without a Pope.
Footnote 2: For scientific readers: But how near an approach did not the Greeks and Romans already make to it? The old proverb: Mens sana in corpore sano, shows a recognition of the equal position of the world of sense and the world of spirit, as well as their reciprocal necessity. This saying is likewise the key to all philosophy; the clue to reconciliation between spirit and matter, consciousness and guilt, freedom and necessity, self-determination and determination from without.
Footnote 3: The so-called "Scottish Cloisters," to which old St. Gall especially belonged, were zealous in the culture of science. Benedict himself held it in low esteem. The peculiar monasticism, which took its rise from the fanatics of the Thebaid, was, moreover, only a reaction against the preponderance of the sensuous element in Hellenism.
Footnote 4: From Pope Gregory VII., we may date especially the unnatural schism between church and state, which are not two separate elements, but spring from the same root and are filled with the same living power. From this time forward, the Hohenstaufens were obliged to fight against the church, and Adrian and Innocence made war upon the state. Afterwards they strove with equal ill-success to reconcile the parts, which stood over against each other in proud independence. But is a healthy existence conceivable without religion, or an active religion without life? The state would become a philosophical abstraction; the church a deceptive mist-image. The universal church (without form) stands over the state; the established church (with form) in the state. The universal church is only visible in its fruits; the established church in its external arrangement, which it must receive from the state, or subject to its approval. The universal church is unchangeable, eternal; the established church variable, accidental.
Footnote 5: The seventh Sunday after the day of the Holy Three Kings, in old almanacs, is styled, "Alleluia Niederlag" from an ordinance of Alexander II., that on this day, neither the Hallelujah, nor any other song of praise durst be sung.
Footnote 6: Concerning the relation of Zwingli to his age, the author published an article in the Swiss Monthly Chronicle for the year 1819, from which, as the periodical was confined to a narrow circle, he ventures to insert here a short extract. "The great man goes in advance of his age. His bold, firm step wins for him a host of trusting and powerful adherents. Prudence hesitates; fear trembles; and the evil-will refuses to follow him. Self-interest, justly in dread of every blazing up of the truth, mingles in the drama with cunning art; a separation ensues; and he who would bring peace to all the world, has brought a sword; but still completes his work, if he suffer for it, or is so happy as to fall. By the sacrifice of himself the hero becomes a saint. Eyewitnesses of his labors, noble enough to admire him, able enough to support him, but not strong enough to take his place, guard with loving hearts his memory and his words; the solitary staff for a race, which had the desire, but not the requisite maturity, to take into itself the entire spirit of the illustrious dead. More and more was the letter now anxiously guarded, and in it the living, creative spirit was securely and faithfully handed down to a more enlightened age. And this age was first able to understand the great man fully, to prize his services and value his doctrine. It is surprising that centuries ago any one should think, as it delights in thinking; it honors the noble of former times as its spiritual kindred; but let it beware of pride, for if he were to rise again amid the means, the experience, the knowledge of this age, he would soon hasten in advance of it also, as they ever do, who regard not that, which one generation of men style truth, but the eternal fundamental truth of all ages; who have not pious feeling alone—not wisdom alone; to whom alone it is revealed, by whose earnest and constant endeavor it is attained, to be wise and good at the same time."
Footnote 7: It may not be uninteresting to many readers to learn something of the after fate of this man, who occupies so prominent a place in the foregoing history. His last letter to Zwingli, as far as known, is dated February 14th, 1523, and his last to Myconius, September 4th, 1524. In these already he complains of the restless agitation in Basel, rising up in hostility to every more moderate view: "It is my conviction," he writes, "that at present obstacles are thrown in the way of the sciences as well as of the Gospel, by none more than by those who made us believe, they would have swallowed both. Yet one durst not complain aloud; for that old, 'Leave me my Christ untouched,' has lately become a litany among them.'" Now more than ever his life was devoted to the study of Grecian and especially Roman antiquity; for theology and church history he never had any great affection. In the beginnings of the Reformation he looked chiefly at the victory of science, the revival of the study of the languages, the need of a more thorough investigation of the classical ages, and was, therefore, favorable to it. But as soon as this Reformation ventured forth from the narrow circles of the academical lecture-room, the student's chamber and the polite world, to move in which had become a matter of necessity to him, upon the theatre of public life, and appeared under democratic forms; as soon as unlearned advocates for it rose up beside the educated and strove for approval and influence with the people, wounding his refined taste by their rude manners and their rough language, he began to grow uneasy. He feared directly the opposite of what he had first hoped for, the final overthrow of all thorough scientific culture. Of the great transformation wrought in the life of the church and the people, with its beneficial results for religion and politics, he had no sense, because he never traveled beyond his Roman and Grecian studies. The bitterness of his feelings found vent in subtle and sometimes malicious scorn. Even in presence of his scholars and house-companions, whose number, as he always kept a boarding house, was seldom under twenty, he allowed himself to call [OE]colampadius "[OE]codiabolos" (House-devil), or "Schlampadius." It can readily be imagined that when this became known it created a dislike toward him among his former admirers, and especially among the young. He received an unequivocal proof of it, when passing through Zurich. Having arrived there with wet garments, he asked his host for the loan of a dry coat that he might walk out. The latter assured him, perhaps maliciously, that he had only a yellow one to spare, which he durst not offer him. In spite of the strange color Glareanus put it on; but scarcely had he appeared on the street, when he saw himself surrounded by a troop of mocking school-boys, to whom he had probably been betrayed. "Ay! ay! Glareanus, how you are tricked out! We must learn your verses," and similar things were shouted in his ears. On his return, the landlord met him with the words: "Out of the mouths of children and sucklings hast thou prepared praise for thyself." His opinion of the age became more and more gloomy. His secret grudge against it is particularly visible in his letter to AEgidius Tschudi, who, like him, had remained true to the Catholic confession. "The young men of the present day," he wrote in 1550, "resemble those of Sodom and Gomorah. Drunkenness, perfidy, ungodliness, dishonoring of the holy have overpowered all their natures. Never was the world so corrupt as now." And yet, at that very time, he had often so many hearers in Freiburg, that, instead of the usual lecture-room the Aula (the hall for examinations and celebrations) had to be given up to him. He continued to exercise his chosen calling with unwearied activity, until he closed his eventful life in the seventy-fourth year of his age. It is remarkable that, notwithstanding his dislike to the Reformation, the General Inquisition at Madrid, as late as the year 1667, included him among "the authors of cursed memory, whose works, published or yet to be published, are forbidden without exception."
Footnote 8: The polemical treatise of Erasmus on this same subject appeared earlier; besides, Erasmus was not actually a teacher in the University.
Footnote 9: Adherents of Cataline, a Roman, whose criminal tampering with the dregs of the people, whose attempt at their head to revolutionize Rome, and whose defeat by Cicero the consul then in power, are pictured in a graphic manner by the historian Sallust.
Footnote 10: [OE]colampadius had played the hero at the Conference of Baden, he had gebadet; Zwingli should now do the same at Bern, in whose coat of arms the bear occupied a prominent place.—Translator.
ORGANIZATION OF THE PARTIES. BREACH OF THE GENERAL PEACE.
Not only was the reciprocal relation of the states within the Confederacy changed by the conclusion of the Buergerrecht; but that of the entire nation toward foreign countries was just as much altered. Early in the beginning of February, 1528, a letter of the Emperor, written from Spire, reached Luzern, with complaints about this alliance; very similar ones were received from the authorities of the Austrian Government at Ensisheim and Inspruck, and still a fourth one from the captains of the Swabian League. "Constance," such was their general drift, "is not at all competent to conclude a treaty of this kind without the consent of the Emperor, nor have the Confederate Cities any right to enter into it. It is not impossible that it may yet be the occasion of war, and the damage resulting may be ascribed to their own folly by the Confederates." This warning was very acceptable to the deputies of the Eight Cantons. It was immediately communicated to the Zurichers. "You see," was the language of the accompanying letter, "whither the necessity of finding allies for the maintenance of your superstition must lead you. Do not hope that we will stand by you in case of war. It is not our doing; we, who wish to uphold the laws, regulations and customs of our fathers, will not be accused of disturbing the peace of the Empire. We exhort you, by virtue of our Confederation, to abstain from unlawful alliances." But neither Zurich and Bern, on the one hand, nor Constance on the other, were moved by all this. "We have," answered they, "strictly examined our Confederate Charter, our Imperial Privileges, the Hereditary Union with Austria—all necessary documents, and have nowhere been able to find, that we have transcended law or privilege. And Constance is just as little subject to Austria or the Swabian League, as we. Why do they then wish to interfere? Our Buergerrecht was devised not for disturbing the peace of the Empire, but to aid in preserving it." Agreement became more and more difficult. The Five Cantons, already standing in hostile attitude toward Zurich and Bern, sought to persuade Glarus, Freiburg and Solothurn to a closer, special union "for the maintenance of the old, true Christian faith, the holy seven sacraments and particularly the office and sacrifice of the mass, with all good Christian rules, benedictions and usages, as handed down from our forefathers, nothing excepted"—for the suppression of every innovation in the Common Territories, and armed succor, if either there or on their own soil an attack is made on that faith, whose support and defence should be the highest duty, higher even than the preservation of the Confederacy. From Freiburg they received an unconditional assent; from Glarus and Solothurn, where the friends of Reform were increasing in number, one with provisos attached. Wallis (Valois) also joined the alliance. More anon. The time had come, when the Five Cantons began likewise to look beyond the limits of the Confederacy. Austria was the nearest to them. Zurich and Bern had sought foreign aid in order to carry out their innovations more securely, why should they refuse the same for the preservation of the old faith, for upholding the unity of the church. Through the bishops of Chur, especially through their friends in Graubuenden, they hoped to obtain access to the authorities of the Archducal government in Inspruck. Meanwhile these projects were kept secret for a long time within a narrow circle of those who could be trusted. They first came to light, when, in the summer of 1528, a second alliance in addition to the Christian Buergerrecht was concluded between Zurich and Bern, who were moved thereto, as they said, by the violent suppression, on the part of the Eight Cantons, of all attempts at Reform in the Common Territories. "Since," so it is recorded in the original documents relating to this matter, "our dear Confederates of the Eight Cantons are not only offended and show themselves averse to us and our adherents in our Christian enterprise, but have even taken occasion specially to pledge and bind themselves to remain true to the old faith, as they call it, and have attempted to seduce several of ours from their Christian enterprise and respect and obedience to us, promising them help, counsel, encouragement and succor against us, all for the suppression of the Divine Word and of the duty, which our people owe to us, it is not only becoming in us, but our great necessity demands it, so that the Divine Word and evangelical truth may not in any measure be kept down by outrage and violence, but that we and ours may be allowed to remain in the free enjoyment thereof without any fear or terror of man."—And thus one measure of mistrust and dislike continually provoked another still more hostile. There was less and less concealment in the efforts of each to strengthen their party.
Any one acquainted with the history of Switzerland knows what ties of relationship, of agreement in their manners and mode of living, and neighborly intercourse existed from the most ancient times, between the inhabitants of Obwalden and those of the Haslithal and a part of the Bernese Oberland. Their friendship was kept alive by popular festivals celebrated in common, and also by the reverence which was paid, especially in the interior of Switzerland, to Saint Beatus, who, as the first promulgator of Christianity in that region, dwelt in a cave on the shore of lake Thun, called by his name, and received canonization. Numerous pilgrimages were made thither from the Five Cantons. The rumor, that the relics of the saint, exhibited there on such occasions, had been cast into the lake by order of the Bernese government, awakened universal indignation. But this was not true. Two deputies of the Council had taken possession of them in order to carry them to Interlachen and bury them afterward. In complaints against the abolition of their pilgrimages, the inhabitants of the Bernese Oberland joined with their neighbors of Unterwalden. Pastoral races are very tenacious of old customs. If these be taken away their respect for law is often shaken at the same time. The government of Bern had to experience this. Between the two lakes of Thun and Brienz lay, under the lordly supervision of Bern, the wealthy Augustinian cloister of Interlachen. Its domain extended over a great part of the surrounding country and through the mountain-valleys of Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. The monks of that period were in good repute neither for their learning nor their morals. The Provost himself Nicholas Trachsel, was destitute both of external and internal dignity. And when the doctrines in regard to the uselessness of monkery, the unscripturalness of spiritual lordship, and the rights of Christian liberty now began to spread among the people subject to the foundation, they immediately applied them to deliverance from all dependence; from the duty of paying rents and tithes. If the one, said they, is an invention of man, so is the other. If we are to receive the Gospel, which teaches liberty among brethren, then will we also become our own masters, an independent canton like Unterwalden and Uri. The Provost, who did not know how to resist them, fled with a few friends to Bern, where, for a decent maintenance, he surrendered the monastery along with its domains and privileges into the hands of the Council. Under sanction of the Great Council, an agreement was quickly made by the government with the assembled convent; its seal, documents, revenues and jewels were brought to Bern; an officer was sent thither, and the whole converted into a bailiwick. But the people belonging to the monastery, who asserted that they ought to have had a voice in the change, at once preferred a complaint. When the government tried to postpone investigation, a violent insurrection broke out, which found sympathy even in some parts of their own district. New hopes were excited among the friends of the Old Order by this uprising of the malcontents, with whom the inhabitants of the Haslithal and other Oberlanders also joined, at the instigation of their neighbors in Obwalden. The Council was in great perplexity. Some of its own members secretly rejoiced—but only the most violent. With others, who also were little favorable to the Reformation, the sense of duty, which demanded the sacrifice of personal inclination to the interests of the state, predominated. From this class chiefly, a commission was chosen to examine on the spot the grievances of the malcontents and negotiate with them. They succeeded in restoring political order by lessening their rents, tithes and other taxes; by remitting more than 50,000 pounds of outstanding dues, and a promise of increased support for the poor and sick; but to allay the religious excitement was a far more difficult task.
Here, for the first time, the two religious parties appeared in arms against each other. The occasion was given by a split among the Oberlanders themselves—division in a matter, where no majority could decide. In the Haslithal the Reformation had found resolute adherents. They and the preachers sent hither from Bern were a source of daily vexation to their fellow-citizens of the old faith, who surpassed them in numbers. The latter sought advice from their neighbors of Obwalden, who, on their part, very willingly came forward and tried to gain over their allies to the support of the Oberlanders. In this they were not unsuccessful. Even the ruling authorities of the Five Cantons exhorted them to hold fast to the old religion in public or in private, and hinted at coming events and help just at hand. Under the pretext of looking once more upon the bones of Saint Beatus, the Abbot of Uri, the landamman and several prominent Zugers came to Interlachen. Ought not the wicked attempt of the innovators to commit them to the earth be prevented? Captain Sch[oe]nbrunner of Zug, asserted that he had concealed at least part of the relics in his cap and thus saved them. "Come to us in future," they now said, "as we heretofore made pilgrimages to you. St. Beatus lies with us." The public mind became more and more disturbed in the Haslithal. One Sunday in June, some of the leaders, instigated by persons from Obwalden, called together a general assembly of the people. The question was started whether the mass should be restored; and it was decided in the affirmative by a vote of one hundred and fifty one, against one hundred and eleven. Dispatches immediately went forth to Obwalden and Uri for priests, and several were conducted by the country people of the Five Cantons, yea, by the very magistrates, with drums and fifes to Hasle and Brienz; and mass was again celebrated amid great rejoicing. What should the government do? It was a perilous undertaking for them to carry out changes in worship against the decided will of a majority of the people. Some members of the Council declared their opposition to it. The mass, they thought, might be permitted, without bringing back episcopal power and foreign church-rule. But the Great Council firmly rejected every such compromise. Copies of the treaties, by which they had come under the dominion of Bern, were sent to the inhabitants of the Haslithal, and appeals made to their duty of submission to the highest authorities of the Canton, even in ecclesiastical affairs. It was all in vain. The adherents of the old faith, stirred up by their new priests, determined to yield under no circumstances. They asked help from Obwalden; they ventured to appear before the deputies of the Five Cantons, assembled at Beckenried, with a similar request. But no resolution was passed in their favor; even Uri and Zug came out strongly against any interference incompatible with the federal laws. The affair was regarded in a different light by Obwalden, and, under the name, it is true, of an embassy to mediate between the parties in the valley, a delegation was sent thither, accompanied, however, by twenty-eight young men adorned with fir-twigs, the defiant badge of the old party. Instead of reconciliation they brought fiercer quarrels. The friends of the Reformation were roused, when they ventured to call them heretics. Deputies from both sides now hastened to Bern, with prayers for succor from one and a declaration from the other, that they were willing to obey in all things, except matters of faith, which neither the Confederation nor the government, but the Church alone, had a right to touch. In this emergency, where they ought to issue commands, but where those commands could not be executed, was a source of uneasiness to the most skillful statesmen. Meanwhile this much was clear, that a protest must be uttered against every interference from abroad. The schultheiss of Erlach, along with two members of the Small and three of the Great Council, went to Sarnen. All save Councillor Wagner belonged to the lukewarm friends of the Reformation. It was hoped that their language would, for this reason, be less offensive in Obwalden. The schultheiss, in his address, kept wholly within the limits of a political consideration of the question. But when, among various cutting remarks, it was cast up to him, that the very Articles of Confederation, to which he appealed, and which were formerly, by reason of the common, venerable faith of their pious forefathers, sworn to in the names of the Saints, had been first brought into contempt by Bern and violated by her antichristian innovations: "The Articles of Confederation," said Erlach, "do not touch upon religion, and grant full liberty in regard to it."—"Well!" replied the old landamman, Halter, "if you yourselves say, that the Articles of Confederation do not touch upon religion, then they cannot be violated even by our intervention in matters of faith; and if your people or others appeal to us for sympathy or succor, where true Christianity, as we have received it from our old fathers, is concerned, we will pledge our persons and property for its maintenance, and still keep our honor towards you." The more clearly the Bernese tried, after this, to exhibit the distinct peculiarities and rights of church and state before the assembly at Hasle, the more did they fall, perhaps to the injury of their cause, into that confusion of ideas, which is altogether unavoidable, when we do not know how to discriminate between Christ's kingdom of faith and love, resting only on his Gospel, intended both for this world and the other, whose very element is freedom, and a government under tyrannic forms established by men in his name. As a true knowledge of the first lies at the foundation of the visible church, it alone can exert a beneficial influence upon the life of the state; yea, without this influence nothing worthy of being so called can possibly exist. The opposite, found in the latter, leads only to discord.
But for such a discrimination of ideas that age was not at all prepared. Prejudiced opinion and passion triumphed.—A multitude of excited people, from all the vallies of the Oberland, streamed into Hasle. "We ourselves," said they, "desire to uphold the faith, the faith of the church, and be separate from the government. On this faith only have we sworn allegiance; if it be taken away, our obligations are dissolved. We will fall in with the Confederates, who hold fast to the old pledges." Before the eyes of the schultheiss and his companions, in direct violation of the law, leaders were chosen, the ministers of Grindelwald, AEsche and Gsteig driven out of their houses with their families, mass-priests placed in their stead, the adherents of the government threatened and compelled to fly, reports of the help promised by their neighbors circulated on all sides—indeed, after several weeks of agitation and violence, the greater part of the Oberlanders, assembled at Interlachen, swore under no circumstances to separate themselves from the real Catholic church, to seek justice from none but the Seven Cantons of the Old Confederacy; to suffer no persons to be punished except under their sentence; to keep possession of the cloister and its domains, and to render mutual aid with their persons and property.
Bern was thrown into great embarrassment. Berchthold Haller wrote to Zwingli: "The Small Council has lost its head; it is given up by us Evangelicals. We have to hunt up the members at their country-seats; the vintage serves as an excuse for their absence and neglect of duty. Those of the Great Council murmur, lament and rave; but even they can find no remedy. They try by adjournments and tricks to avoid the necessity of sending out troops. Meanwhile the power of Antichrist increases everyday." But the impotence was not so universal as represented by the timid preacher. Courage revived; the Confederates were written to for a faithful examination of affairs and help in the hour of need, and a vanguard was sent to Thun; but the march of the entire army was delayed, because the soldiers were not to be trusted in all cases. This was to be expected. Conflicting religious views and the boldly proclaimed resolution of the Oberlanders to risk everything for their party, might seem to those, who had favored the Reformation more from necessity than inward conviction, no sufficient reason to take up arms against them. Something else had to be added to justify the expedition. But it did not last. Even the lukewarm were compelled to acknowledge that determined action had become just as much a duty as a necessity. The insurgent Oberlanders themselves, though united for the maintenance of the old faith, were no wise so in reference to their position toward the government. Among a portion of them the feeling of loyalty was not wholly extinct. They did not wish to separate themselves from the state of Bern, nor refuse obedience in political matters. It was otherwise with the more violent, who, for the time being, had the upper hand. These latter desired a formal breach with the government. They continued to believe in the possibility of forming an independent canton of the Confederacy, under a constitution and laws of their own making. Moreover, they hoped, should their Catholic neighbors lend them aid, to secure and increase at the same time their real power; and in the youthful heads of Obwalden especially such hopes had found sympathy. In fact, eight hundred men set out for the Oberland, and that under the banner of the canton, which was carried by a grandson of the friar Nicholas von Flue, and six hundred men of Uri were ready to follow them In spite of the disapprobation of their own Council. This rash proceeding was a breach of the General Peace, according to the spirit and letter of the Articles of Confederation, and the Bernese government had henceforth a perfect right to resist it by arms in the most energetic manner. And so it happened. Under the command of the Schultheiss Von Erlach, five thousand men provided with artillery and all, necessary supplies marched out. From the very moment, when the power of the government was displayed, the confidence of its friends increased and the courage of its enemies sank. Many of the Oberlanders, who were in Interlachen, saw the arrival of the men of Obwalden with concern, knowing their cause would be rather endangered than promoted by them. They began to rue the step they had taken, and quietly to desert the ranks of the insurgents. A hurried embassy from Basel, the inhabitants of the country around Sarnen, and even a deputation from Luzern showed the men of Obwalden that their invasion was a breach of the Federal Compact, with good effect upon the more considerate. Cold weather was approaching, and the rain poured down in torrents; they became fearful, if they did not speedily return home, of finding the mountain-passes blocked up with snow, and hence the Bernese advanced without resistance, whilst the enemy retreated and in the end dispersed. The more peaceable and better-thinking people of the Five Cantons expected this turn of affairs, yea even wished it. "Then the peasants," so writes Captain Sh[oe]nbrunner of Zug in his journal, which is still extant, "went back again to their Lords of Bern, which was not improper; for it is natural for every man to cleave to his own."
The punishment that followed was truly severe: the restitution of all property stolen or destroyed, payment of costs, the acceptance of the Reformation, the surrendry of their banners with the seal of the canton, and the abrogation of all privileges and immunities, formed the chief items. The oath of unconditional obedience had to be sworn on their bended knees.—"Then," we are told by a contemporary, "the horse-guards were sent into all the insurgent villages, and especially into the valley of Grindelwald to apprehend the real authors of the mischief, the ringleaders and the pillagers. Then were the houses of the rebels ransacked, and their cattle, goods and possessions, and whatever property belonged to the Unterwaldeners in the canton were taken and confiscated to the city of Bern, though afterward through pity much was given back again to women and children. Hereupon some arrived from Halse, Brienz, Grindelwald, Habkeren and Rinkenberg in chains. These they sent with the others, who were captured on the ascent at Oberhofen, to Thun, and thence to be dealt with according to their deserts, well guarded to Bern." A number of the parties most deeply implicated escaped punishment by fleeing to Obwalden. Among these was a certain Hans im Sand, an aged, wealthy and, in other respects, estimable man. He afterward crossed over the Bruenig by stealth to visit his family, and was then betrayed, condemned and beheaded. In accordance with the barbarous custom of the age, his widow was obliged to pay the executioner, who went himself to get his wages. At the earnest request of those, who had remained faithful, part of their privileges were gradually restored, first to the inhabitants of the Haslithal and then to the people of the monastery. Most of the captives were set free through the prayers of friends or by giving bail. On the other hand, the brother of the Provost of Interlachen and two more of the principal rebels were executed, and Christian Kolb, who had everywhere stirred up the insurgents to excess and violence, was not only slain but quartered.
After this victory, the government of Bern addressed itself to the establishment of the Reformation in the entire canton as well as to its more rapid diffusion in all parts of the Confederacy. St. Gall, where the mass and images had already been laid aside, now joined the Christian Buergerrecht. In Basel, the middle class took a still bolder stand against the more aristocratic party belonging to the old faith. The Council was divided and cramped; one burgomaster stood opposed to the other. Now the deputies of the cantons and now those of the cities appeared with attempts at mediation. The churches re-echoed with the mutual recriminations of the mass priests and the preachers. [OE]colampadius wisely continued to speak in favor of peace, but he could not bring it about; for the time for anything like compromise had gone by. Crowds of armed men broke into the churches by force, altars were overthrown, pictures and images dashed to pieces, dragged into the streets and burned: the Small Council was compelled to exile twelve of its members, and the Great Council to increase its number by the admission of four associates from each guild. A committee, appointed by them and armed with full authority, succeeded in restoring quiet. The introduction of the Reformation into the whole canton followed these events. In Glarus also, Schaffhausen, Appenzel and Graubuenden the new party gained strength every day. Even Solothurn no longer stood firm in the old faith, especially since Berchthold Haller had been called thither as a preacher.
In all directions, with unremitting zeal, by his counsel, by his writings, by his correspondence, Zwingli wrought upon the government of Zurich, which committed to him the drawing up of its opinions, and, as appears from the protocols, usually gave him a voice, during the latter years of his life, in the most important deliberations of a political nature. When the thorough measures, which he wished and demanded, met with resistance from those, who were yet averse to church-reforms, he procured, by means of a fiery sermon, about the close of the year 1528, the passage of a law compelling the members of Small and Great Councils, man for man, to declare and avow their faith, and accept preaching and the Lord's Supper in the Evangelical mode. Some were excluded from the Small Council, who would not make this promise. Equally clear, from his correspondence, is the great attention bestowed by him on events occurring outside of the fatherland; the proceedings of the Imperial Diet, the mandates of the Emperor, and the measures of Austria. Even before the treaty of the Buergerrecht was ratified with Constance, he received hints from different quarters in regard to secret negotiations carried on between the authorities of the Austrian government and the Five Cantons. The apprehensions might perhaps be exaggerated. But they struck him as important. Hence he did not strive to conceal the possibility of war; and a historical work, which would give a full portrait of so great a character, durst not suppress the fact, that previous to the Conference in Bern he had prepared for such an emergency a very elaborate plan of defence, which is still extant in his own hand-writing. He, who would censure him for this, should not, on the other side, forget the courageous spirit which, at a time, when Zurich stood almost alone in the Confederacy, still, relying only upon the truth and justice of the cause to be defended, thought it possible to maintain the battle against such overwhelming odds as then existed. In this feeling the pamphlet was thrown off, from the beginning of which we make the following extract: "The author has pondered over this counsel for the honor of God and the good of Christ's Gospel, so that wickedness and injustice may not get the upper hand and put down the fear of God and innocence. In the first place, it should be proclaimed in all parishes in the city and canton, that all men earnestly beseech God never to let us counsel or act contrary to His divine will; and also, if it be consistent with that divine will, to remove all victory from our enemies and bring forth the honor of His Word, as well as grant us grace to live in accordance with his will. Of course this work should begin at home; for there is need to let all the people in the city and canton know with what violence and treachery some of the Confederates have acted toward us, all which has been borne with a patient. Christian spirit, in hope of a change for the better; that now no choice is left but to defend ourselves in a knightly fashion, or else to renounce God and His Word; and that it is the determination of the good city of Zurich to lose everything: state, goods, town, country, body and life, rather than abandon the truth she has professed. Each and every district ought to be commanded, in case any one is not willing thus seriously and honestly to stand by the Word of God, the city and the canton, to notify him in the beginning, that he must go off in three days under suitable conditions. But whoever has courage enough to pledge soul, honor, life and property to God's Word and the city of Zurich, to him shall be said that you have received such and such counsels, and that you yourselves act wholly for God, and will protect yourselves and Him from all harm." These counsels now follow. They furnish proofs of his knowledge of foreign and domestic relations as well as the arts of political life and stratagems of war. He afterward shows how they ought to conduct themselves toward the Emperor, France, other neighbors, every canton of the Confederacy, their allies and the common territories. He unfolds the advantages of striking the first blow, of surprises in war; he enters even into the nature and use of various kinds of weapons. But then, he concludes: "These crude and smoke-stained plans I have hastily brought together for the sake of certain violent and dishonest persons, who, beyond all propriety and in the teeth of the Federal Compact, threaten the good city of Zurich with war. Still, I have an undoubting hope that Almighty God will not let the pious people of the Confederacy suffer for the treachery of a few, nor permit us thus to sit in judgment on each other. I have prayed from the bottom of my heart, that he will defend his city in some other way than the one here pointed out, and cause the pious, common people to dwell peacefully together in one Confederacy." How deeply concerned he was in guiding the ship of state is clear from the fact, that in this same sketch he even designates the individuals, who might be safely entrusted with the command of the different batalions as well as with seats in the council of war, adding, it is true: "But a muster can hurt nobody." From such labors he hurried off to write letters to theologians, to study the Holy Scriptures, to mount the pulpit, to draw up ecclesiastical regulations and formulas of worship. Only such a man was able to carry out the Reformation in a free state. Instead of condemning him, we must keep this steadily in view, and be careful not to form our judgment according to the ideas of the nineteenth, but of the sixteenth century.
Over against this activity of the Reformed, that of the Catholic party now developed itself in silence, but with no less energy. This became manifest at the close of the year 1529. At the same time the adherents of the Reformation had already gained so great a preponderance in Glarus, that there, as in Bern, the sealed promise, given to the Five Cantons, of fidelity to the old faith could no longer be upheld as a law of the land. A number of parishes in the Thurgau and the valley of the Rhine had applied to Zurich for Evangelical preachers. In spite of the landvogt of the Five Cantons, who had gone to prevent them, they made their appearance there, and the church-regulations of Zurich were introduced under the very eyes of the Catholic envoys. The Toggenburgers also, through the undeniable influence of Zwingli, rose up against the ecclesiastical supremacy of their liege-lord, the Abbot of St. Gall. He sick and deserted by a portion of the members of his convent had been carried to Rorschach, whilst the burghers of the city began more freely to exercise a control and gradually to assume the command in the monastery, and even in the cathedral. In Graubuenden, the Abbot of St. Lucien, one of the most powerful supports of the Bishops and the Catholic party, had been executed for bribery and criminal intrigues, and in Schaennis, in the very presence of a threatening embassy from Schwyz, the wooden images of the Saints were brought out into the street. "See," cried the excited youth to them, "here is the road to Schwyz; here to Glarus; here Zurich. Choose which you will take; you have a safe-conduct. If you cannot travel you must burn." When the Catholic rulers wished to avenge this outrage, the burghers of Wesen sought aid from Zurich, which, because she had no jurisdiction in that region, was denied them.
If the Reformation should continue to spread in this way, what was left for the Five Cantons, except to throw open at last their own territory for its entrance, or, surrounded by opponents, to see themselves overwhelmed in case of war, and reduced, perhaps, to the most fearful want by the obstruction of commerce? Under these circumstances many, whose ideas of affairs were just, gradually yielded, and what had for a long time been secretly hoped for by a few, an alliance with their powerful neighbor, Austria, who likewise remained loyal to the faith, found increasing favor among the rulers of the people. On the 14th of February, 1529, deputies of the Five Cantons met the Austrian authorities at Feldkirch. Whether they had invited them thither, as a historian of Luzern informs us, or whether, as said by several reporters of the opposite party, one of whom was himself present as a spy, the suit of the Austrian counsellors at first foiled through the great coldness with which it was received by the Confederates, can scarcely be ascertained now. The records afford no proof for either view. In the meantime, a draught of a mutual treaty was made, which, if approved by the Archduke Ferdinand, King of Hungary and Bohemia, as well as by the Councils and parishes of the Five Cantons, was to be published and ratified as a definitive alliance in Waldshut. This took place in April, and in the same month King Ferdinand himself handed over a copy of the document to the Diet of the collective states assembled in Baden, with the explanation that the alliance was intended neither to aggrieve, nor attack or injure, but simply to protect the old, true faith, to uphold peace and order, and was open to every Christian government, which desired to enter it. At the same time, the Zurichers and Bernese must have clearly seen, that it was a counter-part, and a suspicious one, of the Christian Buergerrecht. On the side of the Reformed only one imperial city came forward, whilst on that of the Catholics stood the mightiest of the neighboring states, and that with articles capable of a far wider application than any in the Christian Buergerrecht. They commenced by declaring, that every reform in matters of faith, yea even the representation of the necessity of such a thing was interdicted in the territories of the allies, and that whosoever "would undertake to raise up and form new lawless sects among the people," he should be taken by the magistracy, supported of course by the allies, and punished "in honor, body and life, or according to the form laid down for that crime." What was now to be done in the territories held by Zurich and Bern in common with the Five Cantons? Could the former permit the inhabitants, who wished for reform and sought aid for its introduction, to be punished by the vogts (bailiffs) perhaps with fire and sword, merely because their religious convictions were not those of a part of their rulers? Then the possibility of a war, even within the limits of the Confederacy, was expressly provided for, and in that event the Austrian quota was to be 6,000 foot-soldiers, 400 horsemen and a supply of artillery. Other associates beyond the Confederacy had likewise permission to join the alliance and "march against the enemy and rebels within, in full force and at their charges." Finally, what was afterward regarded as an act of special injustice to the cities of Zurich and Bern and the chief cause of the unhappy turn of the religious war, the prohibition of the necessaries of life was made also a principle of this alliance, a lawful mode of fighting, and preferred and recommended in case strife should break out.
As soon as the two cities had received certain information that the alliance was concluded, before the documents were yet delivered to the Diet by King Ferdinand, they instituted a convention of the collective cantons, not embraced in the alliance. All, with the exception of Freiburg, were present at it. A resolution was now passed to send an embassy to Luzern and into the Five Cantons, praying for the abandonment of a connection, which would necessarily shake the Confederacy to its very foundations. This embassy of the seven states was joined by delegates from the allied cities of St. Gall, Chur, Muehlhausen and Biel.
But the animosity of the parties had already grown to such a height that little was to be hoped for from conciliatory measures. Still many were found on both sides, who continued to favor peaceful counsels and desire a dispassionate, and, above all, a national discussion of the questions at issue. Some months previous to this, the Council at Zug had written to that of Zurich: They were not willing to believe in the rumor of hostile intentions against the Zurichers and designs of pillage among the peasantry on the further side of Lake Zurich: then the letter proceeds—"for we have observed with great pleasure, what friendly intercourse exists between our people and yours, who lie together on the borders. So would we also act toward you, and spare neither day nor night to bring about peace, reconciliation and unity." Bern discovered a similar kind disposition among her Catholic neighbors in Entlebuch "Every day"—it was written to the bailiff and commons of that place—"the people of the Emmenthal speak of the friendly manner in which you have behaved toward them, and how you lately cast into prison one who defamed us. For this, accept our hearty thanks. And although much may have been said to you, how we perhaps intended to compel you or others to embrace the new faith, as it is called, we freely declare that we never thought of such a thing, and would do it on no account, for faith is the gift of God alone; but if any one would force us from our resolution, we must defend it, as those who are bound always to give an answer for our faith according to the Holy Scripture." In Luzern itself, even among individual members of the government, a friendly feeling was still found by the envoys of Zurich, who in the beginning of the year were sent thither to lay complaints against Thomas Murner. They wrote from this city to the Council at Zurich: "It is the common talk at Luzern that the peasantry, who border on us and the Bernese, are so well content with their neighbors, that there is nothing like it, and they say together that they will have no war with each other, but mutually agree to pledge their persons and their services and not trouble themselves about religion." This was also confirmed by Von Knonau, the Zurichan landvogt.