Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

X

BO O K stead of allowing liberty of conscience, the promise of which

had allured several Protestant Princes to assist him in the

war against the confederates of Smalkalde. As he himself, 1550.

notwithstanding all the compliances which he had madę from motives of interest, or an excess of confidence in the Emperor, was sincerely attached to the Lutheran tenets, he determined not to be a tame spectator of the overthrow of a system which he believed to be founded in truth.

[ocr errors]

The poli- This resolution, flowing from the love of liberty, or zeal tical motives which for religion, was strengthened by political and interested coninfluenced siderations. In that elevated station in which Maurice was him.

now placed, new and more extensive prospects opened to his view. His rank and power entitled him to be the head of the Protestants in the Empire. His predecessor, the degraded Elector, with inferior abilities, and territories less considerable, had acquired such an ascendant over the councils of the party ; and Maurice neither wanted discernment to see the advantage of this pre-eminence, nor ambition to aim at attaining it. But he found himself in a situation which rendered the attempt no less difficult, than the object of it was important. On the one hand, the connexion which he had formed with the Emperor was so intimate, that he could scarcely hope to take any step which tended to dissolve it, without alarming his jealousy, and drawing on himself the whole weight of that power, which had crushed the greatest confederacy ever formed in Germany. On the other hand, the calamities which he had brought on the Protestant party were so recent, as well as great, that it seemed almost impossible to regain their confidence, or to rally and reanimate a body, after he himself had been the chief instrument in breaking its union and vigour. These considerations were sufficient to have discouraged any person of a spirit less adventurous than Maurice's. But to him the grandeur and difficulty of the enterprise were allurements; and he boldly resolved on measures, the idea of which a genius of an inferior order could not have conceived, or would have trembled at the thoughts of the danger that attended the execution of them.

1550.

sions

• His passions concurred with his interest in confirming this B OOK

X. resolution; and the resentment excited by an injury which he sensibly felt, added new force to the motives for opposing the Emperor, which sound policy suggested. Maurice, by The pashis authority, had prevailed on the Landgrave of Hesse to which coput his person in the Emperor's power, and had obtained a operated

. promise from the imperial ministers that he should not be with these. detained a prisoner. This had been violated in the manner already related. The unhappy Landgrave exclaimed as loudly against his son-in-law as against Charles. The princes of Hesse required Maurice to fulfil his engagements to their father, who had lost his liberty by trusting to him; and all Germany suspected him of having betrayed, to anjimplacable enemy, the friend whom he was most bound to protect. Roused by these solicitations or reproaches, as well as prompted by duty and affection to his father-in-law, Maurice had employed not only entreaties but remonstrances in order to procure his release. All these Charles had disregarded ; and the shame of having been first deceived, and then slighted, by a Prince whom he had served with zeal as well as success, which merited a very

different return,

made such a deep impression on Maurice, that he waited with impatience for an opportunity of being revenged.

on his

THE utmost caution as well as the most delicate address The caur were requisite in taking every step towards this end; as he address

tion and had to guard, on the one hand, against giving a premature with which

he carries alarm to the Emperor; while, on the other, something considerable and explicit was necessary to be done, in order to schemes. regain the confidence of the Protestant party. Maurice had accordingly applied all his powers of art and dissimulation to attain both these points. As he knew Charles to be inflexible with regard to the submission which he required to the Interim, he did not hesitate one moment whether he should establish that form of doctrine and worship in his dominions : But being sensible how odious it was to his subjects, instead of violently imposing it on them by the mere terror of authority, as had been done in other parts of Germany, he endeavoured to render their obedience a voluntary deed of their own. For this purpose, he had as

X.

es the Inerim in

300 K sembled the clergy of his country at Leipsic, and had faid

the Interim before them, together with the reasons which 1550. made it necessary to conform to it. He had gained some Ele enforce of them by promises, others he had wrought upon by threats,

and all were intimidated by the rigour with which obedience Saxony. to the Interim was extorted in the neighbouring provinces.

Even Melancthon, whose merit of every kind entitled him to the first place among the Protestant divines, being now deprived of the manly counsels of Luther, which were wont to inspire him with fortitude, and to preserve him steady amidst the storms and dangers that threatened the church, was seduced into unwarrantable concessions, by the timidity of his temper, his fond desire of peace, and his excessive complaisance towards persons of high rank. By his arguments and authority, no less than by Maurice's address, the assembly was prevailed on to declare, “ that, in points which were purely indifferent, obedience was due to the commands of a lawful superior.” Founding upon this maxim, no less uncontrovertible in theory, than dangerous when carried into practice, especially in religious matters, many of the Protestant Ecclesiastics whom Maurice consulted, proceeded to class, among the number of things indifferent, several doctrines, which Luther had pointed out as gross and pernicious errors in the Romish creed; and placing in the same rank many of those rites which distinguished the Reformed from the Popish worship, they exhorted their people to comply with the Emperor's injunctions concerning these particulars f.

Makes

By this dexterous conduct, the introduction of the Interim professions excited none of those violent convulsions in Saxony which it of zeal for the Pro

occasioned in other provinces. But though the Saxons subestant re- mitted, the more zealous Lutherans exclaimed against Meligion.

lancthon and his associates, as false brethren, who were either so wicked as to apostatize from the truth altogether ; or so crafty as to betray it by subtle distinctions ; or so feeble.

f Sleid. 481. 485. Jo. Laur. Moshemii Institutionum Hist. Ecclesias. ticæ, lib. iv. Helmst. 1755, 4to. p. 748. Jo. And. Schemidii Historia Interimistica, p. 70. &c. Helmst. 1730.

X.

1550.

śpirited as to give it up from pusillanimity and criminal com- BOOK plaisance to a prince, capable of sacrificing to his political interest that which he himself regarded as most sacred, Maurice, being conscious what a colour of probability his past conduct gave to those accusations, as well as afraid of losing entirely the confidence of the Protestants, issued a declaration containing professions of his zealous attachment to the reformed religion, and of his resolution to guard against all the errors or encroachments of the Papal See &.

same time

HAVING gone so far in order to remove the fears and At the jealousies of the Protestants, he found it necessary to efface courts the the impression which such a declaration might make upon emperor. the Emperor. For that purpose, he not only renewed his professions of an inviolable adherence to his alliance with him, but as the city of Magdeburg still persisted in rejecting the Interim, he undertook to reduce it to obedience, and instantly set about levying troops to be employed in that service. This damped all the hopes which the Protestants begun to conceive of Maurice, in consequence of his declaration, and left them more than ever at a loss to guess at his real intentions. Their former suspicion and distrust of him revived, and the divines of Magdeburg filled Germany with writings in which they represented him as the most formidable enemy of the Protestant religion, who treacherous. ly assumed an appearance of zeal for its interest, that he might more effectually execute his schemes for its destruction.

This charge, supported by the evidence of recent facts, Protests as well as by his present dubious conduct, gained such uni- against the versal credit, that Maurice was obliged to take a vigorous proceeding step in his own vindication. As soon as the re-assembling in the of the council of Trent was proposed in the diet, his ambassadors protested that their master would not acknowledge its authority, unless all the points which had been already decided there, were reviewed, and considered as still undetermined ; unless the Protestant divines had a full hearing

council.

g Sleid. 485.

VOL. IIL

X.

BOOK granted them, and were allowed a decisive voice in the

council; and unless the Pope renounced his pretensions to 1550.

preside in the council, engaged to submit to its decrees, and to absolve the bishops from their oath of obedience, that they might deliver their sentiments with greater freedom. These demands, which were higher than any that the Reformers had ventured to make, even when the zeal of their party was warmest, or their affairs most prosperous, counterbalanced, in some degree, the impression which Maurice's preparations against Magdeburg had made upon the minds of the Protestants, and kept them in suspense with regard to his designs. At the same time he had dexé terity enough to represent this part of his conduct in such a light to the Emperor, that it gave him no offence, and occasioned no interruption of the strict confidence which sub sisted between them. What the pretexts were which he employed, in order to give such a bold declaration an innocent appearance, the contemporary historians have not ex: plained ; that they imposed upon Charles is certain, for he still continued not only to prosecute his plan, as well concerning the Interim as the council, with the same ardour, but to place the same confidence in Maurice, with regard to the execution of both.

The diet The Pope's resolution concerning the council not being resolve to yet known at Augsburg, the chief business of the diet was on the city to enforce the observation of the Interim. As the senate of of Magde- Magdeburg, notwithstanding various endeavours to frighten burg.

or to sooth them into compliance, not only persevered obstinately in their opposition to the Interim, but began to strengthen the fortifications of their city, and to levy troops in their own defence, Charles required the diet to assist him in quelling this audacious rebellion against a decree of the Empire. Had the members of the diet been left to act agreeably to their own inclination, this demand would have been rejected without hesitation. All the Germans who favoured, in any degree, the new opinions in religion, and many who were influenced by no other consideration than jealousy of the Emperor's growing power, regarded this effort of the citizens of Magdeburg, as a noble stand for the

« VorigeDoorgaan »