« VorigeDoorgaan »
fulfilling these, and of accommodating his conduct to the BOOK situation of his affairs. But weighty as these considerations were, they made no impression on the mind of the haughty and bigoted pontiff, who instantly replied, That he would absolve him by his apostolic authority from those impious engagements, and even command him not to perform them; that in carrying on the cause of God and of the church, no regard ought to be had to the maxims of worldly prudence and policy; and that the ill success of the Emperor's schemes in Germany might justly be deemed a mark of the divine displeasure against him on account of his having paid little attention to the former, while he regulated his conduct entirely by the latter. Having said this, he turned from the ambassador abruptly without waiting for a reply.
His nephews took care to applaud and cherish these senti- and exas
perated by ments, and easily wrought up his arrogant mind, fraught his newith all the monkish ideas concerning the extent of the papal phews, supremacy, to such a pitch of resentment against the house of Austria, and to such an high opinion of his own power, that he talked continually of his being the successor of those who had deposed Kings and Emperors; that he was exalted as head over them all, and would trample such as opposed
Dec. 15. him under his feet. In this disposition the Cardinal of Lor
concludes a rain found the Pope, and easily persuaded him to sign a treaty with
France. treaty, which had for its object the ruin of a Prince, against whom he was so highly exasperated. The stipulations in the treaty were much the same as had been proposed by the Pope's envoy at Paris; and it was agreed to keep the whole transaction secret, until their united forces should be ready to take the fields.
DURING the negociation of this treaty at Rome and Paris, The empean event happened which seemed to render the fears that ror resolves
to resign had given rise to it vain, and the operations which were to his heredifollow upon it unnecessary. This was the Emperor's resig- tary domination of his hereditary dominions to his son Philip; together
s Pallav. lib. xiii. p. 163. F. Paul, 365. Thuan. lib. xv. 525. lib. xvi. 540. Mem. de Ribier, ii. 609, &c.
BO O K with his resolution to withdraw entirely from any concern XI.
in business or the affairs of this world, in order that he might
spend the remainder of his days in retirement and solitude. 1555.
Though it requires neither deep reflection nor extraordinary discernment to discover that the state of royalty is not exempt from cares and disappointment; though most of those who are exalted to a throne find solicitude, and satiety, and disgust, to be their perpetual attendants in that envied pre. eminence; yet to descend voluntarily from the supreme to a subordinate station, and to relinquish the possession of power in order to attain the enjoyment of happiness, seems to be an effort too great for the human' mind. Several instances, indeed, occur in history, of Monarchs who have quitted a throne, and have ended their days in retirement: But they were either weak Princes, who took this resolution rashly, and repented of it as soon as it was taken ; or unfortunate Princes, from whose hands some stronger rival had wrested their sceptre, and compelled them to descend with reluctance into a private station. Dioclesian is perhaps the only Prince capable of holding the reins of government, who ever resigned them from deliberate choice, and who continued during many years to enjoy the tranquillity of retirement without fetching one penitent sigh, or casting back one look of desire, towards the power or dignity which he had abandoned.
No wonder, then, that Charles's resignation should fill tives of this resig
all Europe with astonishment, and give rise, both among his nation. contemporaries, and among the historians of that period, to
various conjectures concerning the motives which determined a Prince, whose ruling passion had been uniformly the love of power, at the age of fifty-six, when objects of ambition continue to operate with full force on the mind, and are pursued with the greatest ardour, to take a resolution so singular and unexpected. But while many authors have im. puted it to motives so frivolous and fantastical, as can hardly be supposed to influence any reasonable mind ; while others have imagined it to be the result of some profound scheme of policy ; historians more intelligent, and better informed, neither ascribe it to caprice, nor search for mysterious
secrets of state, where simple and obvious causes will fully ac- BOOK
XI. count for the Emperor's cor:duct. Charles had been attacked early in life with the gout, and notwithstanding all the pre
1555. cautions of the most skilful physicians, the violence of the distemper increased as he advanced in age, and the fits be, came every year more frequent, as well as more severe. Not only was the vigour of his constitution broken, but the faculties of his mind were impaired by the excruciating torments which he endured. During the continuance of the fits, he was altogether incapable of applying to business, and even when they began to abate, as it was only at intervals that he could attend to what was serious, he gave up a great part of his time to trifling and even childish occupations, which served to relieve or to amuse his mind, enfeebled and worn out with excess of pain. Under these circumstances, the conduct of such affairs as occured of course in governing so many kingdoms, was a burden more than sufficient ; but to push forward and complete the vast schemes, which the ambition of his more active years had formed, or to keep in view and carry on the same great system of policy, extending to every nation in Europe, and connected with the operations of every different court, were functions which so far exceeded his strength, that they oppressed and overwhelmed his mind. As he had been long accustomed to view the business of every department, whether civil or military, or ecclesiastical, with his own eyes, and to decide concerning it according to his own ideas, it gave him the utmost pain when he felt his infirmities increase so fast upon him, that he was obliged to commit the conduct of all affairs to his ministers. He imputed every misfortune which befel him, and every miscarriage that happened, even when the former was unavoidable, or the latter accidental, to his inability to take the inspection of business himself. He complained of his hard fortune, in being opposed, in his declining years, to a rival, who was in the full vigour of life, and that while Henry could take and execute all his resolutions in person, he should now be reduced, both in council and in action, to rely on the talents and exertions of other men. Having thus grown old before his time, he wisely judged it more decent to conceal his infirmities in some solitude, than to ex
BO O K pose them 'any longer to the public eye; and prudently de. XI.
termined not to forfeit the fame, or lose the acquisitions of his better years, by struggling with a vain obstinacy, to retain the reins of government, when he was no longer able to hold them with steadiness, or to guide them with address *.
Circum- But though Charles had revolved this scheme in his mind stances which had for several years, and had communicated it to his sisters the retarded it. dowager Queens of France and Hungary, who not only ap
proved of his intention, but offered to accompany him to whatever place of retreat he should choose ; several things had hitherto prevented his carrying it into execution. He could not think of loading his son with the government of so many kingdoms, until he should attain such maturity of age, and of abilities, as would enable him to sustain that weighty burden. But as Philip had now reached his twenty-eighth year, and had been early accustomed to business, for which he discovered both inclination and capacity, it can hardly be imputed to the partiality of paternal affection, that his scru
* Don Levesque, in his memoires of Cardinal Granvelle, gives a reason for the Emperor's resignation, which, as far as I recollect, is not mentioned by any other historian. He says, that the Emperor having ceded the government of the kingdom of Naples and the dutcy of Milan to his son, upon his marriage with the Queen of England ; Philip, notwithstanding the advice and entreaties of his father, removed most of the ministers and officers whom he had employed in those countries, and appointed creatures of his own to fill the places which they held. That he aspired openly, and with little delicacy, to obtain a share in the administration of affairs in the Low-Countries. That he endeavoured to thwart the Emperor's measures, and to limit his authority, behaving towards him sometimes with inattention, and sometimes with haughtiness. That Charles, finding that he must either yield on every occasion to his son, or openly contend with him, in order to avoid either of these, which were both disagreeable and mortifying to a father, he took the resolution of resigning his crowns, and of retiring from the world, vol. i. p. 24, &c. Don Levesque derived his information concerning these curious facts, which he relates very briefly, from the ori. ginal papers of Cardinal Granvelle. But as that vast collection of papers, which has been preserved and arranged by M. l'Abbé Boizot of Besançon, though one of the most valuable historical monuments of the sixteenth century, and which cannot fail of throwing much light on the transaction of Charles V. is not published, I cannot determine what degree of credit should be given to this account of Charles's resignation. I have therefore taken no notice of it in relating this event.
ples, with regard to this point, were entirely removed ; and' B O O K that he thought he might place his son, without further hesitation or delay, on the throne which he himself was about to abandon. His mother's situation had been another obstruction in his way. For although she had continued almost fifty years in confinement, and under the same disorder of mind which concern for her husband's death had brought upon her, yet the government of Spain was still vested in her jointly with the Emperor; her name was inserted together with his in all the public instruments issued in that kingdom ; and such was the fond attachment of the Spaniards to her, that they would probably have scrupled to recognize Philip as their sovereign, unless she had consented to assume him as her partner on the throne. Her utter incapacity for business rendered it impossible to obtain her consent. But her death, which happened this year, removed this difficulty; and as Charles, upon that event, became sole monarch of Spain, it left the succession open to his son. The war with France had likewise been a reason for retain. ing the administration of affairs in his own hand, as he was extremely solicitous to have terminated it, that he might have given up his kingdoms to his son at peace with all the world. But as Henry had discovered no disposition to close with any of his overtures, and had even rejected proposals of peace, which were equal and moderate, in a tone that seemed to indicate a fixed purpose of continuing hostilities, he saw that it was vain to wait longer in expectation of an event, which, however desirable, was altogether uncertain.
As this, then, appeared to be the proper juncture for exe- The fora cuting the scheme which he had long meditated, Charles re- with which solved to resign his kingdoms to his son, with a solemnity he execut
ed it. suitable to the importance of the transaction, and to perform this last act of sovereignty with such formal pomp, as might leave a lasting impression on the minds not only of his subjects but of his successor. With this view he called Philip out of England, where the peevish temper of his Queen, which increased with her despair of having issue, rendered him extremely unhappy; and the jealousy of the English left him no hopes of obtaining the direction of their affairs.