As F. Schiller himself has defended, a work does not have to bear a purely academic and rather boring style, in order to be qualified as historical. The scene of this extensive work is the larger Europe from Russia to the Italian peninsula and the states bordering the Ottoman Empire. The actors of this so-called 30-year religious war were the sovereigns and churches of Europe. The political and military maneuvers are described, hence, in this masterpiece, in the literary style of a fiction, although the events and details related in it are truly historical. In the first parts of the book, the different warring forces as well as their motives for going to war are presented. “The prospect of independence, the rich plunder of the spiritual foundations must have made the regents craving for a religious conversion, and the weight of the inner conviction did certainly not have less strengthened this attraction in them; however, state reason alone could press them to that end.” With this sentence, Schiller makes his whole point about the war. It was not so much a precise religious doctrine for which the European powers were fighting against each other, but certainly the acquisition and the possession of wealth and privileges detained by the spiritual foundations. Alliances, unions on one side, defections and betrayals on the other, are among all the various components that make up this war, to the image of the Hungarian leaders who allied themselves with whatever party would assure them the best of their interests. In addition to that, court judgments, intrigues and affairs, poisoning and outright financial corruption are among the weapons that Schiller also describes to render a vivid comprehension of this historical event to us.
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A translation by J. Marc Rakotolahy
The Essays on Aesthetics
The Short Stories
The Essays on Literary Style
The Essays on the Sublime
The Essays on Governance and Human Society
The Thirty-Year War
The Secession of the United Netherlands
from Spanish Ruling
The Pitaval Casebook
The Other Historical Essays
From the beginning of the religious war in Germany, until the signature of the peace treaty in Münster, hardly anything great and remarkable has happened in the political world of Europe where Reformation has not had the most distinguished influence. All the significant events which happened in this period, are linked to the improvement of faith, when they did not simply originate from it, and any state, whether it was great or small, has more or less, indirectly or directly, felt the influence of the same spiritual movement.
The whole use which the House of Spain made of its impressive political forces was directed, almost exclusively, against the new religions or their partisans. Through Reformation, would be started a civil war, which shook in its foundations the Kingdom of France, under four successive belligerent governments; pulled foreign weapons into the heart of this kingdom and made of it, for half a century, the battle scene of the saddest upheaval. Reformation made unbearable to the Netherlands, the Spanish yoke and awoke in this people the need and the courage to tear down this yoke, the same way as it also gave its people, mostly, the strength for its emancipation. Anything malevolent, which Philip the Second decided against Queen Elisabeth of England, was motivated by a revenge, which was caused by the fact that she took under her protection, against his interest, his protestant subjects, and has put herself at the head of a religious party against which he was fighting.
The division in the church has had for consequence, in Germany, an enduring political separation, which drew this country, in truth, for a period longer than a century into confusion, however, also at the same time, provided a durable shield against any form of political oppression. It was mostly Reformation, which led the Nordic powers of Denmark and Sweden, first, into the European state system, because the protestant states union strengthened itself through their entry into the coalition, and because this union was unavoidable to these states. States which, previously, hardly had any existence for each other, started, through Reformation, to maintain an important contact and to entertain a new political sympathy for each other.
The same way as citizens established another type of relationship with other citizens, rulers also arrived at another type of relationship with their subjects through Reformation; many states were observing new positions against each other through it. And, hence, the separation from the state must have been a peculiar way that led the states into a closer relationship with each other. Terrible, in truth and chaotic was the first effect through which this general political sympathy announced itself – a thirty-year armed conflict, which drove people away from the midland of Bohemia to the estuary of the Schelde, from the banks of the Po to the coasts of the countries near the East Sea, destroyed crops, reduced into ashes cities and villages; a conflict in which many thousand fighters found their death, a conflict which shut down the shimmering voices of culture, for half a century, in Germany and which resuscitated the hardly alive, better customs of the old primitive barbarism.
However, Europe came out un-oppressed and free from this terrible war, in which it recognized itself, for the first time, as a cohesive association of states; and this participation of the states in the affairs of each other, which took form, first, during this war; was in itself already such a gain, in the sense that it reconciled the citizen of the world with his own fear. Diligence has, in an unnoticed manner, dissolved again all the devastating traces of this war; however, the positive consequences which accompanied it, have persisted. Precisely this general sympathy between states, which was announced to half of Europe in Bohemia, watched, now, over the peace, which brought this war to an end. The same way as the flame of devastation found its way amidst Bohemia, Mähren and Austria to spread across Germany, France, and the half of Europe; hence, will the torch of culture open for itself, in these states, a way to enlighten these countries.
Religion caused all these turmoil. Only through it, what happened would have been made possible; however, many things still lacked so that this war would be undertaken for religion and its sake. If the private advantage did not unite so quickly with the interest of the state, never would the voice of the theologians and the people have found so amenable princes, never would the new religious teachings have found so numerous, so brave, so persistent advocates. A great share of the religious revolution is owed indisputably, to the conquering power of truth; or with what would be taken for it. The abuses in the old church, the insipidity of many of its teachings, the exaggerations in its demands must have necessarily outraged the mind, which was already convinced by the possibility of a better enlightenment; all these facts must have inclined people to embrace the improved religion.
The prospect of gaining independence, of making the rich plunder from the spiritual foundations must have made the regents craving for a religious conversion, and the weight of the inner conviction must have not less strengthened this covetousness in them; however, the state reason alone could press them to that end. Had not Charles the Fifth, overenthusiastic about his luck, attacked the imperial freedom of the German foundations, hardly would a Protestant coalition have taken the arms to defend the freedom of their religion. Without the thirst for dominance of the Guises, would the Protestants in France never have chosen a Condé or a Coligny at their head; without the levy of the tenth and twentieth Pfennig would the Holy See in Rome never have lost the united Netherlands. The Regents fought for their own self-defence or territory enlargement; the new enthusiasm for religion gave them armies and opened to them the treasures of their people. The common people, when it was not attracted under their flags by the hope of good loot, believed to give its blood for truth, while it, actually, gave it only for the advantage of its princes.
And good enough for the populations, that this time, the interests of the princes went hand in hand with theirs! To this coincidence alone they have to thank their liberation from papacy. Fortunately enough for the princes, that the subjects believed to fight for their own cause while they really fought for that of the princes’! In the period of which we are speaking about, any Prince did not rule so absolutely enough in Europe, in order to risk being overthrown by the good will of his subjects, if he followed his political plans. However, how difficult it was to win and to put into action this nation’s good will for his poetical plans! The most energetic impulses, which were grounded on state reason; left the subjects, who seldom envision it, cold and even more uninterested in them.
In this case, nothing else remains to the skilful regents than to associate the interest of their government with some other interest, which is dear to the people, if such a thing already exists, or, if it does not exist, to create it.
This was the case in which found themselves a great part of these same regents, who have been enticed to be active in Reformation. Through a strange chain of events, must it be arranged, that the separation from the church encountered two political circumstances, without which this separation would have, presumably, had a completely different development. These circumstances were: the sudden rise in supremacy of the House of Austria, which menaced the freedom of Europe, and the active zeal of this House for the old religion. The first one was created by the regents, while the second one was given prominence by the nations.
The abolition of a foreign jurisdiction in their states, the existence of the highest fierceness in spiritual matters, the hindered financial drain to Rome, the rich plunder of the spiritual foundations were advantages, which must have been attractive, in equal manner, to any sovereign; why, could people be asking, did these advantages not became also attractive, in a similar manner, to the Princes of the House of Austria? What hindered this House, and particularly the German lineage of the same House, to lend an ear to the pressing demands of so many of their subjects, and to improve their conditions, after the example of other Princes, with the riches of spiritual powers without arms? It is difficult to believe that the conviction about the infallibility of the Roman Church should be having a greater share to the sacred allegiance of this House, than the conviction about the contrary, to the decline of the Protestant Princes.
Many more reasons are converging to lead the Austrian Princes to support the Papacy. Spain and Italy, from which the austrian power derived a great part of their strength, were acquired with blindness to the cause of Rome, which the spanish power, particularly, already, has shown since the time of the Gothic rule. The slightest reminding about the detested teachings of Luther and Calvin must the ruler of Spain, irremediably, root out in the hearts of his subjects; the decline of Papacy could be costing him the loss of this kingdom.
A spanish King must be an established Prince or he must step down from the throne. The namely constraint was put upon him by his Italian states, which he must, almost, even more improve than the spanish ones, because they bore most impatiently the foreign yoke, and they could be shaking it off most easily. In addition to that, came the fact that these states had France as ally and the Pope as neighbour, was enough reason hindering him to declare himself for a party which destroyed the authority of the Pope; and concurrently, demanding him to declare himself for the same Pope, by showing the most active zeal for the old religion.
These overall grounds, which must be of equal importance to any spanish monarch, would be supported by any one of them, the more particularly, for personal reasons. Charles the Fifth had in Italy a dangerous rival in the person of the King of France; to whose arms Italy threw itself to, at the same moment as Charles made suspicious the heretic principles. Precisely on the same plans, which Charles followed with most ardour, would the mistrust of the Catholics and the fight of the church been hindering him throughout. As Charles the Fifth came to the case of choosing between the two religions, the new religion could not yet have a great consideration to him, and besides from that, still existed, in this time, the most probable hope for amicable settlement between the two churches.
With his son and successor, Philip the Second, a monastic upbringing was paired with a despotic, dark character to entertain in this Prince an irreconcilable hatred for any improvements in belief matters, and the fact that his worst political opponents were, also at the same time, enemies of his religion, could really not dampen this hatred. As his european countries, scattered through so many foreign states, were open everywhere to the influence of foreign religions, hence, could he not view with indifference the pursuit of Reformation in other countries, and his own closest state interests demanded him to accept, in general, the old church, to stop the heretic contamination at its sources. The natural course of matters put, hence, these Princes at the head of the catholic faith and the coalition, which united the Papists, against the partisans of the new religion. The principles which would be observed under the long and active ruling of Charles the Fifth and Philip the Second’s, remained for the following ones as laws; and the more the cleavages in the church enlarged, the more fiercely had Spain to hold on to Catholicism.
Freer seemed to be the German branch of the House of Austria; however, if in this one many of the obstacles disappeared; yet, would they be hold in chains through other relationships. The possession of the Imperial Crown, which was totally unthinkable on a protestant head (how could an apostate of the Roman Church be carrying the Roman Imperial Crown?), linked the successor of the Ferdinand the Second to the papal throne; Ferdinand himself was sincerely and for matter of conscience devoted to this thrown. Moreover, the german-austrian Princes were not powerful enough to do without the spanish support, which, however, through a favouring of the new religion, was totally forfeited.
Besides, their dignity of emperor demanded them to protect the german imperial system, through which they affirmed themselves as Emperor, and which the protestant part of the Empire strived to bring down. Should people only account of the Protestants’ reserve to the threat posed by the Emperor and to the common danger that the Empire represented, on their violent attacks on the temporal prerogatives of the church and on their enmities wherever they felt as being the stronger party; hence, can people conceive how many concurring reasons the Emperor had to stand by the Papacy; as if his own interest must most intricately be mingling with that of the Catholic Church. As, maybe, the whole destiny of this religion depended on the resolution which the House of Austria conceived, hence must people consider the Austrian Princes through the whole Europe as the pillars of Papacy. The hatred of the Protestants against the last one also turned, for that reason, unanimously against Austria and mingled little by little, the protector with the cause he protected.
However, precisely this hatred for Austria, the irreconcilable enemy of Reformation, put not the political freedom of the european states in a lesser danger, at the same time, through its ambitious plans which were supported by a superior power and particularly that of the german positions. To this circumstance, must the last one be alarmed on security grounds and be aware about its self defence. Its usual means would never more be sufficient to resist such a menacing power. Extraordinary efforts had they to demand from their subjects and, as also these were not, by far, sufficient, to diminish the power of their neighbours and to seek to defy a power against which they could not confront alone, through making alliances with each other.
However, the great political demands which the regents possessed to counter the advance of Austria; their subjects did not have. Only the advantages or the evil of the moment put the people in action, and these may not wait for a good diplomacy. How terrible, hence, for these Princes, if another more efficient motive which put the nation into a passionate mood had not been offered by chance and inflamed in it an enthusiasm which could be directed against the political danger because it found itself in the namely subject! This motive was the declared hatred against a religion which shook off the House of Austria, the enthusiastic devotion to a religious teaching which this House strived to destroy with fire and sword. This devotion was passionate, this hatred was invincible; the religious fanaticism feared the remote power; fervour never account for what it sacrifices.
The most decisive danger for the state which would not be allowed over its citizens, religious fervour can perform. For the state, for the interest of the Princes, people would have taken weapons only in a small number; for religion, even the merchant, the artist, the farmer took joyfully their weapons.
For the state or the Princes, people would have sought to avoid the smallest, additional contribution; for religion, people are willing to give possessions and blood, all their temporal hopes. Three times more amount of money are now flowing into the treasury of the Princes; three times more armies are fighting on the fields; and in the violent movement in which the coming religious danger put all the minds into, the subject did not feel the efforts of which, he, in a calmer state of mind would be exhausted with. The fear of the Spanish Inquisition, of Bartholomew Nights provided to the Prince of Orange, the Admiral Coligny, the british Queen Elisabeth, the protestant Princes of Germany with enough resources from their people which were, before, inconceivable.
However, no matter how great personal efforts people would have been little achieved against a power which was still superior to the most powerful Prince if he stood by himself. In times where people still had little educated political sense, however, the fortuitous circumstances of the remote states could allow an irregular deployment of resources. The difference of constitution, of laws, of language, of customs, of national character which separated the nations and countries in equally many different wholes and instated an enduring separation wall between them, made one state insensitive against the menaces of the others where the national jealousy attracted it really not into an hostile, malicious joy. Reformation broke this separation wall. A livelier, closer interest than the national advantage or patriotism, and which was independent throughout of the relationships with the citizens, began to animate the individual citizens and the whole states.
This interest could not link with each other many more states and even the most remote ones, and with the subjects of the namely states could this link disappear. The french Calvinists have had, hence, with the reformed parties in Geneva, England, Germany or the Netherlands a point of contact which it did not have with its fellow catholic citizens. It ceased, hence, on a very important point, to be an individual state, to limit its attention and participation in these individual states. Its circle enlarged, it began to predict from the destiny of foreign countries which had the same belief, its own and to make its cause that of these countries. Now, first, might the Regents dare to bring foreign matters before the assembly of their local authorities, now, first, might people hope to find a compassionate ear and quick help within these broader authorities.
These foreign matters are, now, becoming domestic and voluntarily people gave a hand which they even refused to the neighbour and even more to the remote foreigner, to their relatives in belief. Now, the pastor abandons his homeland in order to fight for his french fellow believers against the common religious enemy. The french subject pulled the sword against a fatherland that mistreated it and moved forward, risking being injured, for the freedom of the Netherlands. Now, people see a Swiss arming himself against another Swiss, a German against another German, in order to decide about the succession on the throne of France, on the banks of the Loire and the Seine. The Dane crossed the Eider and the Swede the Belt in order to break the chains which were forged for Germany.
It is very difficult to say what would have really happened with Reformation, with the freedom of the German Empire, if the feared House of Austria had not taken party against them. So much, however, seems to be proved, that the austrian Princes on their way to the universal monarchy have not been hindered by anything more than through the obstinate war which they led against the new religion. In any other case than this one, was it not possible to the weaker Princes, to summon the extra efforts from their standings, through which they resisted the austrian power; in any other case was it possible to the states to unite against a common enemy.
The austrian power has never stood higher than after the victory of Charles the Fifth in Mühlberg, after he has defeated the Germans. The german freedom was depending on the Schmalkaldic League; although this spirit of freedom seemed eternally down, it lived again in Moritz of Saxony, the Austrians' most dangerous enemy. All the fruits of the Mühlberg victory were lost during the congress of Passau and the session of Augsburg’s Parliament, and all dispositions of the worldly and spiritual oppression ended into a conceded peace.
Germany divided itself in this parliament in Augsburg into two religions and into two political parties; now, first, it divided because the separation was, now, for the first time, legal. Until then, were the Protestants considered as rebels, now, people decided to treat them as brothers, not as if people have voluntarily recognized them for their religion but rather because they were pressed for that. The confession of Augsburg might, from now on, exist side by side with the catholic faith, hence, only as a tolerated neighbour, with temporary, sister-like rights. To every worldly status of prosperity was the right given to make of the religion to which he belonged, on its soil, into the prevailing and unique one and to spoil of its free practice the opposing one; to every subject was allowed to leave the country where his religion was oppressed.
Now, for the first time, the teachings of Luther enjoyed really a positive sanction and even if it was disparaged in Bavaria and in Austria; hence, it could console itself that it had the throne in Saxony and in Thuringia. To the regent it was now left to choose which religion was prevailing in his country and which one should be brought down; for the subjects who did not have any representative in the parliament, there was nothing cared for in the terms of this peace treaty. Really, alone in the spiritual countries in which the catholic religion remained irremediably the dominant one, would the protestant subjects (who were already so previously) be affected the free practice of religion, however, this only through a personal assurance from the Roman King Ferdinand who brought into stand this peace; an assurance which, from the catholic part of the Empire was contradicted and with this contradiction included in the peace treaty, it had not any legal binding.
Were it, by the way, been only religious opinions which separated the minds - how indifferently would people have considered this separation! However, on these opinions were attached possessions; dignities and rights; a circumstance which made the division infinite. From two brothers who enjoyed in common, until now, the fatherly fortune; abandoned, now, one of them the fatherly home, and the necessity came to divide it with the staying brother. The father has not determined anything in case of division, because he could not have guessed anything about this separation. Into the charitable foundations of the forefathers has the revenues of the church, during a millennium, flown, and the possessions of the forefathers belonged to the one who is leaving as well as the one who is staying. Should, now, the inheritance right be only tied to the domiciliation in the fatherly house or on blood?
The foundations were created in the Catholic Church because in those days there was not any other church; they were assigned to the first born male because he was then still the unique son. Was now prevailing in the church a right of the first born the same way as in the noble families? Should the favouring of one party be prevailing when the other one could still not oppose him his? Could the Lutherans be excluded from profiting from these assets, on which hence their ancestors helped to found, could they be excluded alone by the fact that in the time of the foundation there was still not a difference between Lutherans and Catholics? Both religious parties have blamed and still blame one another for the cause of war with apparent grounds, however, it might be very difficult to one party as the other to prove its right. The right is only valid for cases which have been thought, and maybe the spiritual foundations do not fall among these; at least , then, not, if people extend the demands of their founders also on the dogmas: how is it possible to make an eternal donation into a changeable opinion?
If the law cannot decide about the case, hence violence should, and hence it happened in this case. One party kept what is not him any more; the other defended what it still had. All the bishoprics and abbeys which before the peace were made worldly, remained to the Protestants; however the Papists protested on the basis of a specific reserve which states that in the future none of them should be made, any more, worldly. Every possessor of a spiritual foundation which was directly submitted to the Empire, Electorate Prince, Bishop or Abbey has forfeited his benefits and dignities, as soon as he is within the Protestant Church.
At once, must he move his belongings out, and the chapter must go through a new election, as if his place was made vacant through death. On this sacred anchor of spiritual reserve which made the whole worldly existence of a spiritual Prince dependent of his spiritual knowledge, is, still until now, the Catholic Church in Germany strengthened – and what would become of it, if this anchor falls down? The spiritual reserve suffered an obstinate contradiction from the side of the protestant parties, and even if they accepted it, finally, in the terms of peace; hence it happened with the express annotation that both parties have not been treated equally on this point. Could anything be more binding for the protestant party than this assurance from Ferdinand to the advantage of the protestant subjects in spiritual founders, than it was for the Catholics? Two points of discords remained, hence, in the peace treaty, and war was inflamed on these points.
Hence it was not different with the religious freedom and with the spiritual possessions; with the laws and the dignities. On a unique church have the german imperial system counted on because there was only one when this system was formed. Now, the church was divided, the parliament has separated into two religious parties – and hence, should the whole imperial system result exclusively into a unique one? All the former Emperors were sons of the Roman Church because the Roman Church in Germany, until now, was without any rival. Was it, however, the relationship with Rome that made up the Emperor of the Germans, or was it not much more Germany which represented itself in its Emperor?
To the whole Germany belongs, however, also the Protestant Party – and how should represent himself, now, this Emperor among an uninterrupted line of Catholic Emperors? In the highest Imperial Court were heading, now, the german authorities because they positioned themselves as the judges of the situation; that they determined themselves, that a same justice be available to all, was the reason of its foundation – can this claim be fulfilled if not both religions are sitting in it? The fact that at the time of the foundation in Germany still a unique belief dominated, was a coincidence, - that a state should not be oppressing the others on a legal basis, was the essential goal of this foundation. This goal, however, was failed if a religious party is in exclusive right to direct the others – may now a goal be sacrificed when a coincidence is changed? Finally and with a lot of effort, the Protestants acquired for their religion a seat in the court, however, there was still always not a really equal number of voices between the two parties. – To the Imperial Throne has still not been elevated any protestant chief.
What people may also say about the equality which the religious peace in Augsburg between both german churches put in place, hence, is that the Catholics, indisputably, came out as the winner. All that the Lutherans received was – tolerance; all that the Catholics gave up, they sacrificed by necessity, and not by justice. Always was it still not any peace between the two equally considered powers, only a contract between the ruler and an undefeated rebel! From this principle seem to be proceeding and still to proceed all the actions of the Catholic Church against the Protestants. It was always still a crime to convert into the protestant church because it would be considered as a more important loss than having the spiritual reserve relying on spiritually disloyal Princes.
The Catholic Church also resolved itself in the subsequent events rather to lose everything through violence than to give a small advantage voluntarily and lawfully; for there was always a hope to take back a loot and always was it only a fortuitous loss; however a given up pretence, a right conceded to the Protestants would have shaken the pillars of the Catholic Church. In the religious peace treaty itself, was this principle not concealed. Whatever was conceded to the Evangelicals in this peace, was not given up forever. Everything, it was expressively meant, should be prevailing only for the following general church assembly which would be striving to unite again these two churches. If this last attempt of reunification should only fail, then the religious peace treaty will have an absolute validity. So little hope there was for this reunification, the Catholics themselves were maybe so little serious about the prospect, people have already despite of it already so much won that people limited through this condition the peace.
This religious peace, hence, which should be dying down the flame of the civil war for always, was fundamentally only a temporary announcement, a work of necessity and of force, not dictated by the justice of law; not the fruit of rightful ideas about religion and the freedom of religion. A religious peace treaty of this last kind, the Catholics could not be agreeing, and if people were honest; to such a peace the Evangelicals did not agree to yet. Much to the contrary, they showed an unlimited approval towards the Catholics; but oppressed, wherever they were having the power, the Calvinists who, indeed, deserved equally little tolerance taken in its best meaning, as they were equally far from exercising it themselves.
To a religious peace of this nature were the conditions of these times still not ripe, and the minds were still too agitated. How could people demand from a party what it was itself incapable of doing? What each of the religious party saved or won in the Peace of Augsburg, thanked they to the fortuitous power relationship in which both stood toward one another in the grounding of the peace. What would be gained through violence, must be affirmed through violence; this power relationship must be enduring, hence, for the future or the peace would lose its force. With the sword in the hand would the frontiers between both churches be drawn; with the sword must they be watched – or may the party which will first disarm experience it at its own cost! A dubious, fearful perspective for Germany’s peace and security which came out already from the peace treaty itself!
In the Empire followed, now, a momentary calm, and a fragile band of concord appeared to link together the separated members again into an Empire; that the feeling for the common prosperity came also back for a time. However, the separation has harmed the most inner essence of the Empire and the impulse to produce again its original harmony, was over. So precisely the peace seemed to have determined the border rights of both parties, hence, to unequal interpretations remained it, however, subject to. In the middle of their most heated battle, it had imposed a standstill to the fighting parties, it has prevented the spread of the fire, but not extinguished it, and unsatisfied pretences remained within both parties. The Catholics believed to have lost too much, the Evangelicals to have achieved too little; both used the peace treaty according to their goals which they still not dared to break.
The same powerful motive to encompass the religious teachings of Luther which so many protestant Princes were so inclined to make their own, and to take possession of the spiritual foundations, were after the conclusion of the peace, not lesser effective than previously and whatever they still did not hold in their hands from the direct founders, must be soon going to them. The whole lower part of Germany was in a short period of time made worldly, and if it was otherwise with the upper part of the country, hence, it was most vehemently opposed by the Catholics who, in this part of the country, had the preponderance. Every party pressed or oppressed; wherever it was the more powerful, the partisans of the other party; the spiritual princes particularly as the members of the Empire who had the least weapons, would be unceasingly made angry through the increasing avidity of their catholic neighbours.
He who was too powerless to use violence against violence, fled under the wings of Justice and the spoliation accusations against the protestant states accumulated in the Imperial court which was willing enough, to sentence the accused party, however, it was too little supported in order to make them binding. The peace which the states of the Empire has put in place the perfect freedom of religion, had hence somehow also cared for the subject, in the sense that it accorded him the right to leave without being attacked the country in which his religion was oppressed.
However, before the violent acts with which the landlord pressed the hated subject, before the nameless torment through which he can make difficult the departure to the leaving subject, before the artificially placed compels in which malice together with force, can put the minds into dismay, could not be protecting the inactive letters of this peace treaty. The catholic subject complained loudly against the protestant rulers about the non respect of the freedom of religion – the evangelic subject even louder about the pressures which was imposed upon him by his catholic authority. The embitterment and bellicosity of the theologians poisoned each incident which in itself was insignificant, and put the minds into flame; fortunately enough, this theological rage was effected on the common religious enemy itself, without sprinkling its poison against its own fellow religion followers.
The unanimity of the Protestants among themselves would, hence, finally, succeeded to keep both antagonist parties into equal turmoil and through that to prolong peace; however, in order to make the confusion total, this concord disappeared soon. The teachings which Zwingli in Zurich and Calvin in Geneva have spread, started soon, also, in Germany to acquire solid grounds and to divide the Protestants among themselves, so much that they recognized among themselves more differences than the common hatred for Papacy. The Protestants in this period were not any more the ones who fifty years previously have transferred their confession in Augsburg and the cause of this change is – precisely in this confession of Augsburg to be sought.
This confession set a positive limit to the protestant faith before the awakened inquisitive spirit let it fall and the Protestants mocked unknowingly a part of their gain which to them secured the conversion from the Papacy. Similar complaints against the Roman hierarchy and against the abuses in this church, a similar disapproval of the catholic teaching concepts would have been enough for the Protestant Church to renounce the duty of unification; however, they sought this unification in a new positive belief system, put in this one the distinctive sign, the advantages, the essence of their church and related to this the contract which they concluded with the Catholics.
Only as partisans of a confession they went into the religious freedom treaty; the followers of the same confession alone had part in the good deed of this freedom. No matter how, hence, they altogether wished success, hence, the situation was equally bad among the followers of the same confession. To the inquisitive spirit was set an additional limit, if the prescriptions of the confession should be meeting a blind obedience; the point of unification however was lost, when people are divided about the established formulas. Unfortunately, both cases happened and the bad consequences of both were there. A party stood firmly by the first confession, and if the Calvinists were removing themselves away from it, hence they only did so, in order to include themselves, in a similar manner, into a new concept of teaching.
The Protestants could not give to their common enemy any more apparent pretext than this disunion among themselves, not a very rejoicing image than the embitterment with which they reproached each other reciprocally. Who could be blaming, now, the Catholics if they found ridicule this boldness, with which the improver of faith have endeavoured themselves to do, to announce the unique true religious system? When they as Protestants turned their own weapons against other Protestants?
When they stood firmly, in this contradiction of religious opinions, to the authority of their faith, for which hence, partly, spoke an honourable age and an even more honourable majority of voices? However, the Protestants threw themselves in this separation, in an even more serious manner, into this turmoil. On the followers of the same religion alone was the religious peace put, and the Catholics pressed, now, for a declaration, whether this peace treaty should be recognized by their fellows or not. The Evangelists could not be including the proponents of the Reform in their alliance, without burdening their conscience; they could not exclude them from it, without transforming a useful friend into a dangerous enemy.
Hence, this regrettable separation gave way to the machinations of the Jesuits, to ingrain mistrust between both parties and to destroy the concord of their rules. Through the double fear of the Catholics and of their own united protestant adversaries, the Protestants failed to take advantage of a moment which will never occur again: to secure for their church an all throughout, equal right with the Roman church. And all these embarrassments would have been spared to them, the conversion of the Reformed were for the common cause really harmless, if people have sought the point of unification alone in the distancing away from the Papacy, not in the confessions of Augsburg, not in the works of the concord.
No matter how much, however, people were divided into in all these other issues, hence, people were unanimous that a security which was only owed to the balance of power, could only be maintained through this balance of power. The progressing Reformation of one party, the striving counter efforts of the other party entertained the vigilance on both sides, and the content of the religious peace was the solution to an eternal dispute. Every step which the other party did, must be aiming at hurting this peace; every step which someone allowed himself, happened for the preservation of this peace.
Not all the moves of the Catholics had a hostile intention, as their opponents will blame; many of the moves that they did was based upon self defence. The Protestants have shown in an ambivalent manner what the Catholics are capable, if they should have misfortune to be the submissive party. The covetousness of the Protestants for the spiritual possessions allowed them to expect in return not any good treatments, their hatred not any generosity, not any tolerance.
However, to the Protestants it was also forgiven if they showed little confidence to the honesty of the Papists. Through the unfaithful and barbaric way of handling which people in Spain, France and the Netherlands allowed themselves against their religious fellows, through the shameful deceit of the catholic Princes to be relieved from the most sacred oaths to the Pope, through the horrible principle, that against heretics not any faithfulness and not any belief should be considered, have the Catholic Church lost any respect to the eyes of the honest people. Not any assurance, not still any fearsome oath from the mouth of a Papist could calm the Protestants. How could there be a religious peace if the Jesuits have depicted it all throughout Germany only as an interim, as a temporary convenience which was condemned solemnly by Rome itself!
The general assembly of the church of which this peace treaty was aiming at, was in the meantime, in the city of Trent, taking place; however, as people have not expected otherwise, without uniting the disputing religions, without also only to have done a step to this unification, without being also only asked to. Solemnly were these, from now on, condemned by the church, for whose representative the Council is holding itself for. Could a profane contract, yet obtained by the weapons to that end, give them a sufficient guarantee against the ban of the church, a contract which relied on a condition which the conclusion of council itself seemed to abolish? In an appearance of right lacked it, hence, not any more, if the Catholics felt themselves otherwise powerful enough to betray the religious peace, from now on, nothing more protected the Protestants than the respect inspired by their might.
Many more things were adding to increase the mistrust. Spain, upon which might the Catholic Germany was relying itself, was in those days embattled with the Netherlands in a violent war which has pulled the heart of the spanish might into the borders of Germany. How quick stood these troops in the Empire, if a decisive setback made it necessary here! Germany was, then, a war council for almost all the european powers. The religious war has amassed soldiers there, soldiers who put the prospect of any peace away. To so many Princes who were dependent on each others, it was easy to lend afterwards the armies which they gathered together to foreign power either based on a perspective of victory or upon a spirit of partisanship. With german troops, Philip the Second fought against the Netherlands and with german troops they defended themselves. Every of such military recruitment in Germany always frightened one of the two religious parties for it could be aiming at their submission. A rotating envoy; an extraordinary legate of the Pope, a reunion of Princes, any unusual event must be corrupting one or the other part. Hence, Germany stood for half a century; the hand on the sword,worried and ready to fight.
Ferdinand the First, King of Hungary, and his excellent son, Maximilian the Second; held the reins of the Empire in those delicate times. With a heart full of sincerity, with a really heroic patience has Ferdinand negotiated the religious peace in Augsburg and wasted a vain effort at the ungrateful attempt to reunite both churches at the Council of Trent. Abandoned by his nephew, the Spaniard Philip, at the same time menaced by the victorious armies of the Turks in Siebenbürgen and Hungary; how could this Emperor be thinking of breaking the religious freedom and to destroy his own arduous work? The great expenses of the ever renewing itself Turkish War could not be contributed by the sparse contributions of his exhausted hereditary countries; it needed, hence, the contribution of the Empire, and the religious peace alone held the divided Empire still together into a body.
The economic need made to him the Protestants not lesser necessary than the Catholics and put him, hence, in a position to deal with both parts with equal justice which in such very opposing demands, was a truly mammoth work. Many things also lacked in order to make a success of the things he wished: his hostility against the Protestants have only served to revive to his kindred the war which was spared to his dying eyes. Not more fortunate was his son Maximilian, who maybe only hindered the constraint of the circumstances, who maybe only lacked a longer life in order to elevate the new religion on the Imperial Throne. To the father has necessity taught restraint towards the Protestants; necessity and accord dictated they to his son. The grandson claimed more dearly that he neither heard the accord nor obeyed necessity.
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