« VorigeDoorgaan »
Accept in good part what hasty stuff I have written ; forgive it at least. I must say, this small National Project has again grown to look quite beautiful to me ;—possible surely in some form, and full of uses. Probably the real “ Crystal Palace” that would beseem poor old Scotland in these days of Exhibitions,
-a country rather eminently rich in men perhaps, which is the pearl and soul of all other “riches." Believe me yours ever truly,
2 Some efforts, I believe, were made in the direction indicated, by Gentlemen of the Antiquarian Society and others; but as yet without any actual "Exhibition" coming to light. Later, and for Britain at large, we have had. by the Government itself, some kind of “Commission" or “Board" appointed, for forming a permanent “ National Portrait-Gallery,"_with what success is still to be seen. --(Note of 1857.)
(1855-] OVER seas in Saxony, in the month of July 1455, a notable thing befell; and this in regard to two persons who have themselves, by accident, become notable. Concerning which we are now to say something, with the reader's permission. Unluckily, few English readers ever heard of the event; and it is probable there is but one English reader or writer (the present reviewer, for his sins) that was ever driven or led to inquire into it: so that it is quite wild soil, very rough for the ploughshare ; neither can the harvest well be considerable. “English readers are so deeply ignorant of foreign history, especially of German history !” exclaims a learned professor. Alas, yes; English readers are dreadfully ignorant of many things, indeed of most things ;-which is a lamentable circumstance, and ought to be amended by degrees.
But, however all this may be, here is somewhat in relation to that Saxon business, called the Prinzenraub, or Stealing of the Princes, and to the other “pearls of memory" (do not call them old buttons of memory!) which string themselves upon the threads of that. Beating about in those dismal haunted wildernesses ; painfully sorting and sifting in the historical lumber-rooms and their dusty fusty imbroglios, in quest of far other objects,—this is what we have picked-up on that acci
1 WESTMINSTER REVIEW, No. 123, January 1855.-1. Schreiters Geschichte des Prinzenraubs (Schreiter's History of the Stealing of the Princes). Leipzig, 1804.
2. Johann Hübners, Rectoris der Schule zu S. Johannis in Hamburg, Genealogische Tabellen (Genealogical Tables, by Johann Hübner, Rector of St. John's School in Hamburg). 3 vols. oblong 4to. Leipzig, 1725-1728.
3. Genealogische Tafeln zur Staatengeschichte der Germanischen und Slawischen Völker im 19ten Jahrhundert (Genealogical Tables for the State History of the Germanic and Slavic Nations in the 19th Century). By Dr. Friedrich Maximilian Ertel. 1 vol. oblong 12mo. Leipzig, 1846,
dental matter. To which the reader, if he can make any use of it, has our welcome and our blessing.
The Wettin Line of Saxon Princes, the same that yet endures, known by sight to every English creature (for the high individual, Prince Albert, is of it), had been lucky enough to combine in itself, by inheritance, by good management, chiefly by inheritance and mere force of survival, all the Three separate portions and divided dignities of that country: the Thüringen Landgraviate, the Meissen Markgraviate, and the ancient Duchy and Electorate of Saxony; and to become very great among the Princes of the German Empire. It was in 1423 that Elector Frederick, nanied der Streitbare (the Fencible, or Prompt-to-fight), one of the notables of this line, had got from Emperor Sigismund, for help rendered (of which poor Sigismund had always need, in all kinds), the vacant K’ur (Electorship) and Dukedom of Saxony ; after which accession, and through the earlier portion of the fifteenth century, this Saxon House might fairly reckon itself the greatest in Germany, till Austria, till Brandenburg gradually rose to overshadow it. Law of primogeniture could never be accepted in that country; nothing but divisions, redivisions, coalescings, splittings, and never-ending readjustments and collisions were prevalent in consequence; to which cause, first of all, the loss of the race by Saxony may be ascribed.
To enter into all that, be far from us. Enough to say that this Streitbare, Frederick the Fencible, left several sons, and none of them without some snack of principality taken from the main lot: several sons, who, however, by death and bad behaviour, pretty soon reduced themselves to two : 1st, the eldest, a Frederick, named the Placid, Peaceable, or Pacific (Friedrich der Sanftmüthige), who possessed the electorate, and indivisible, inalienable land thereto pertaining (Wittenberg, Torgau, &c.; a certain circle' or province in the Wittenberg region; of which, as Prussia has now got all or most of it, the exact boundaries are not known to me); and ad, a Wilhelm, who in all the other territories 'ruled conjointly' with Frederick.
Conjointly : were not such lands likely to be beautifully • ruled' ? Like a carriage-team with two drivers on the box ! Frederick, however, was pacific; probably an excellent good
natured man; for I do not find that he wanted fire either, and conclude that the friendly elements abounded in him. Frederick was a man that could be lived with ; and the conjoint government went on, without visible outbreak, between his brother Wilhelm and him, for a series of years. For twelve years, better or worse ;-much better than our own red and white Roses here at home, which were fast budding into battles of St. Albans, battles of Towton, and other sad outcomes about that time ! Of which twelve years we accordingly say nothing.
But now in the twelfth year, a foolish second-cousin, a Friedrich the Silly (Einfältige), at Weimar, died childless, A.D. 1440 ; by which event extensive Thuringian possessions fell into the main lot again; whereupon the question arose, How to divide them ? A question difficult to solve ; which by and by declared itself to be insoluble ; and gave rise to open war between the brothers Frederick Pacific and Wilhelm of Meissen. Frederick proving stronger, Wilhelm called-in the Bohemians,-confused Hussite, Ziska-Podiebrad populations, bitter enemies of orthodox Germany ; against whom Frederick sent celebrated fighting captains, Kunz von Kaufungen and others; who did no good on the Bohemians, but showed all men how dangerous a conflagration had arisen here in the heart of the country, and how needful to be quenched without delay. Accordingly the neighbours all ran up, Kaiser Frederick III. at the head of them (a cunning old Kaiser, Max's father); and quenched it was, after four or five years' ruinous confusion, by the 'treaty of Naumburg' in 1450,-most obscure treaty, not necessary to be laid before the reader ;-whereby, if not joint government, peaceable division and separation could ensue.
The conflagration was thus put out; but various coals of it continued hot for a long time,-Kunz von Kaufungen, above mentioned, the hottest of all. Kunz or Conrad, born squire or ritter of a certain territory and old tower called Kaufungen, the site of which old tower, if now no ruins of it, can be seen near Penig on the Mulde river, some two-hours ride south-east of Altenburg in those Thuringian or Upper Saxon regions,—Kunz had made himself a name in the world, though unluckily he was short of property otherwise at present. For one thing, Kunz had gained great renown by beating Albert of Brandenburg, the Albert named Achilles, third Hohenzollern Elector of Brandenburg, and the fiercest fighter of his day (a terrible hawk-nosed, square-jawed, lean, ancient man, ancestor of Frederick the Great); Kunz, I say, had beaten this potentate, being hired by the town of Nürnberg, Albert's rebellious town, to do it ; or if not beaten him (for Albert prevailed in the end), had at least taken him captive in some fight, and made him pay a huge ransom. He had also been in the Hussite wars, this Kunz, fighting up and down: a German condottiere, I find, or Dugald Dalgetty of the epoch; his last stroke of work had been this late engagement, under Frederick the Peaceable, to fight against brother Wilhelm and his Bohemian allies.
In this last enterprise Kunz had prospered but indifferently. He had indeed gained something they called the victory of Gera,'-—loud honour, I doubt not, and temporary possession of that little town of Gera ;-but in return, had seen his own old tower of Kaufungen and all his properties wasted by ravages of war. Nay, he had at length been taken captive by the Bohemians, and been obliged to ransom himself by huge outlay of money :-4,000 goldgulden, or about 2,000l. sterling ; a crushing sum! With all which losses, why did not Kunz lose his life too, as he might easily have done? It would have been better for him. Not having lost his life, he did of course, at the end of the war, claim and expect indemnity : but he could get none, or not any that was satisfactory to him.
Elector Frederick had had losses of his own ; was disposed to stick to the letter of his contracts in reference to Kunz: not even the 4,000 goldgulden of Bohemian ransom would he consent to repay. Elector Frederick alleged that Kunz was not his liegeman, whom he was bound to protect; but only his soldier, hired to fight at so much per day, and stand the risks himself. In fine, he exasperated Kunz very much ; and could be brought to nothing, except to agree that arbitrators should be named, to settle what was really due from one to the other ;-a course of little promise to indigent, indignant Kunz. The arbitrators did accordingly meet, and Kunz being summoned, made his appearance; but not liking the figure of the court, went away again without waiting for the verdict; which accordingly did fall out infinitely short of his wishes or expectations, and made the indigent man still more indignant. Violent speeches were heard from him in consequence, and were officiously reported;