Part 9 out of 13
The battle of Bosworth Field (1485) marks the close of the war. In this
fight King Richard III., the last of the House of York, was overthrown and
slain by Henry Tudor, the Earl of Richmond, who was crowned on the field
with the diadem which had fallen from the head of Richard, and saluted as
King Henry VII., the first of the Tudors.
THE EFFECTS OF THE WAR.--The most important result of the Wars of the
Roses was the ruin of the baronage of England. One-half of the nobility
was slain. Those that survived were ruined, their estates having been
wasted or confiscated during the progress of the struggle. Not a single
great house retained its old-time wealth and influence.
The second result of the struggle sprung from the first. This was the
great peril into which English liberty was cast by the ruin of the
nobility. It will be recalled that it was the barons who forced the Great
Charter from King John (see p. 479), and who kept him and his successors
from reigning like absolute monarchs. Now that once proud and powerful
baronage were ruined, and their confiscated estates had gone to increase
the influence and patronage of the king. He being no longer in wholesome
fear of Parliament, for the Commons were as yet weak and timid, did pretty
much as he pleased, and became insufferably oppressive and tyrannical;
raising taxes, for instance, without the consent of Parliament, and
imprisoning and executing persons without due process of law. For the
hundred years following the Wars of the Roses the government of England
was rather an absolute than a limited monarchy. Not until the final
Revolution of the seventeenth century (see Chap. LV.) did the people, by
overturning the throne of the Stuarts, fully recover their lost liberties.
_Growth of the English Language and Literature._
THE LANGUAGE.--From the Norman Conquest to the middle of the fourteenth
century there were in use in England three languages: Norman French was
the speech of the conquerors and the medium of polite literature; Old
English was the tongue of the common people; while Latin was the language
of the laws and records, of the church services, and of the works of the
Modern English is the Old English worn and improved by use, and enriched
by a large infusion of Norman-French words, with less important additions
from the Latin and other languages. It took the place of the Norman-French
in the courts of law about the middle of the fourteenth century. At this
time the language was broken up into many dialects, and the expression
"King's English" is supposed to have referred to the standard form
employed in state documents and in use at court.
EFFECT OF THE NORMAN CONQUEST ON ENGLISH LITERATURE.--The blow that struck
down King Harold and his brave thanes on the field of Hastings silenced
for the space of about a century the voice of English literature. The
tongue of the conquerors became the speech of the court, the nobility, and
the clergy; while the language of the despised English was, like
themselves, crowded out of every place of honor. But when, after a few
generations, the down-trodden race began to re-assert itself, English
literature emerged from its obscurity, and with an utterance somewhat
changed--yet it is unmistakably the same voice--resumes its interrupted
lesson and its broken song.
CHAUCER (1328?-1400).--Holding a position high above all other writers of
early English is Geoffrey Chaucer. He is the first in time, and, after
Shakespeare, perhaps the first in genius, among the great poets of the
English-speaking race. He is reverently called the "Father of English
Chaucer stands between two ages, the medi�val and the modern. He felt not
only the influences of the age of Feudalism which was passing away, but
also those of the new age of learning and freedom which was dawning. It is
because he reflects his surroundings so faithfully in his writings, that
these are so valuable as interpreters of the period in which he lived.
Chaucer's greatest work is his _Canterbury Tales_, wherein the poet
represents himself as one of a company of story-telling pilgrims who have
set out from London on a journey to the tomb of Thomas Becket, at
[Illustration: STATUE OF WYCLIFFE. (From the Luther Monument at Worms.)]
WYCLIFFE AND THE REFORMATION (1324-1384).--Foremost among the reformers
and religious writers of the period under review was Wycliffe, "The
Morning Star of the Reformation." He gave the English people the first
translation of the entire Bible in their native tongue. There was no press
at that time to multiply editions of the book, but by means of manuscript
copies it was widely circulated and read. Its influence was very great,
and from its appearance may be dated the beginning of the Reformation in
The followers of Wycliffe became known as "Lollards" (babblers), a term
applied to them in derision. They grew to be very numerous, and threatened
by their excesses and imprudent zeal the peace of the state. They were
finally suppressed by force.
BEGINNING OF THE FRENCH KINGDOM.--The kingdom of France begins properly
with the accession of the first of the Capetian rulers, late in the tenth
century. The Merovingian and Carolingian kings were simply German princes
reigning in Gaul. The Capetians held the throne for more than three
centuries, when they were followed by the Valois kings. The last of the
main line of the Valois family gave way to the first of the Valois-Orleans
sovereigns in 1498, which date may be allowed to mark the beginning of
modern French history.
We shall now direct attention to the most important transactions of the
period covered by the Capetian and Valois dynasties. Our aim will be to
give prominence to those matters which concern the gradual consolidation
of the French monarchy.
_France under the Capetians_ (987-1328).
[Footnote: Table of the Capetian Kings:--
Hugh Capet (the Great). . . 987--996
Robert II. (the Sage) . . . 996-1031
Henry I.. . . . . . . . . . 1031-1060
Philip I. . . . . . . . . . 1060-1108
Louis VI. (the Fat) . . . . 1108-1137
Louis VII. (the Young). . . 1137-1180
Philip II. (Augustus) . . . 1180-1223
Louis VIII. (Lion-hearted). 1223-1226
Louis IX. (the Saint) . . . 1226-1270
Philip III. (the Hardy) . . 1270-1285
Philip IV. (the Fair) . . . 1285-1314
Louis X. (the Stubborn) . . 1314-1316
Philip V. (the Tall). . . . 1316-1322
Charles IV.(the Handsome) . 1322-1328]
The first Capetian king differed from his vassal counts and dukes simply
in having a more dignified title; his power was scarcely greater than that
of many of the lords who paid him homage as their suzerain. The fourth
king of the line (Philip I.) confessed that he had grown gray while trying
to capture a castle which stood within sight of Paris; and evidently he
had abandoned all hope of getting possession of it, for he charged his
son, to whom he one day pointed it out, to watch it well. How various
events and circumstances--conquests, treaties, politic marriage alliances,
and unjust encroachments--conspired to build up the power of the kings
will appear as we go on.
The most noteworthy events of the Capetian period were the acquisition by
the French crown of the English possessions in France, the Holy Wars for
the recovery of Jerusalem, the crusade against the Albigenses, and the
creation of the States-General. Of these several matters we will now speak
THE ENGLISH POSSESSIONS IN FRANCE.--The issue of the battle of Hastings,
in 1066, made William of Normandy king of England. He ruled that country
by right of conquest. But we must bear in mind that he still held his
possessions in France as a fief from the French king, whose vassal he was.
This was the beginning of the possessions on the continent of the English
kings. Then, when Henry, Count of Anjou, came to the English throne as the
first of the Plantagenets, these territories were greatly increased by the
French possessions of that prince. The larger part of Henry's dominions,
indeed, was in France, almost the whole of the western coast of the
country being in his hands; but for all of this he, of course, paid homage
to the French king.
As was inevitable, a feeling of intense jealousy sprang up between the two
sovereigns. The French king was ever watching for some pretext upon which
he might deprive his rival of his possessions in France. The opportunity
came when King John, in 1199, succeeded Richard the Lion-hearted upon the
English throne. That odious tyrant was accused, and doubtless justly, of
having murdered his nephew Arthur. Philip Augustus, who then held the
French throne, as John's feudal superior, ordered him to clear himself of
the charge before his French peers. John refusing to do so, Philip
declared forfeited all the lands he held as fiefs of the French Crown
[Footnote: This was the second condemnation of John. A year before this
time (in 1202), John having refused to answer a charge of tyranny
preferred by the nobles of Poitou, Philip had declared his fief to be
forfeited. It was in the turmoil which followed this sentence, that Arthur
was taken prisoner by John and afterwards murdered.], and thereupon
proceeded to seize Normandy and other possessions of John in the North of
France, leaving him scarcely anything save the Duchy of Aquitaine in the
South. The annexation of these large possessions to the crown of France
brought a vast accession of power and patronage to the king, who was now
easily the superior of any of his great vassals.
THE FRENCH AND THE CRUSADES.--The age of the Capetians was the age of the
Crusades. These romantic expeditions, while stirring all Christendom,
appealed especially to the ardent, imaginative genius of the Gallic race.
Three Capetian kings, Louis VII., Philip Augustus, and Louis IX.,
themselves headed several of the wild expeditions.
It is the influence of the Crusades on the French monarchy that we alone
need to notice in this place. They tended very materially to weaken the
power and influence of the feudal nobility, and in a corresponding degree
to strengthen the authority of the crown and add to its dignity. The way
in which they brought about this transfer of power from the aristocracy to
the king has been explained in the chapter on the Crusades (see p. 450).
CRUSADE AGAINST THE ALBIGENSES (1207-1229).--During this age of religious
enthusiasm holy wars were directed as well against heretics as infidels.
In the South of France was a sect of Christians called Albigenses
[Footnote: From _Albi_, the name of a city and district in which their
tenets prevailed.], who had departed so far from the faith of the Church,
and had embraced such dangerous social heresies, that Pope Innocent III.
felt constrained to call upon the French king and his nobles to lead a
crusade against them. The outcome was the almost total extirpation of the
heretical sect, and the acquisition by the French crown of large and rich
territories that were formerly the possessions of the Counts of Toulouse,
the patrons of the heretics.
CREATION OF THE STATES-GENERAL (1302).--The event of the greatest
significance in the Capetian age was the admission, in the reign of Philip
the Fair, of the commons to the feudal assembly, or council, of the king.
This transaction is in French history what the first summoning of the
House of Commons is in English (see p. 480).
A dispute having arisen between Philip and the Pope respecting the control
of the offices and revenues of the French Church, in order to rally to his
support all classes throughout his kingdom, Philip called an assembly, to
which he invited representatives of the burghers, or inhabitants of the
cities (1302). The royal council had hitherto been made up of two estates
only,--the nobles and the clergy; now is added what comes to be known as
the _Tiers �tat_, or Third Estate, and henceforth the assembly is known as
the _States-General_. Eventually, before the power of this Third Estate,
we shall see the Church, the nobility, and the monarchy all go down,
through revolution; just as in England we shall see clergy, nobles, and
king gradually yield to the rising power of the English Commons.
_France under the House of Valois_ (1328-1498).
[Footnote: Names of the sovereigns of the main line of the House of
Philip VI. . . . . . . . . . . . 1328-1350
John (the Good). . . . . . . . . 1350-1364
Charles V. (the Wise). . . . . . 1364-1380
Charles VI. (the Well-Beloved) . 1380-1422
Charles VII. (the Victorious). . 1422-1461
Louis XI. . . . . . . . . . . . 1461-1483
Charles VIII. (the Affable) . . 1483-1498]
EFFECTS UPON FRANCE OF THE HUNDRED YEARS' WAR.--The chief interest of that
period of French history upon which we here enter attaches to that long
struggle between England and France known as the Hundred Years' War.
Having already, in connection with English affairs (see p. 484), touched
upon the causes and incidents of this war, we shall here simply speak of
the effects of the struggle on the French people and kingdom. Among these
results must be noticed the almost complete prostration, by the successive
shocks of Cr�cy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, of the French feudal
aristocracy, which was already tottering to its fall through the
undermining influences of the Crusades; the growth of the power of the
king, a consequence, largely, of the ruin of the nobility; and, lastly,
the awakening of a feeling of nationality, and the drawing together of the
hitherto isolated sections of the country by the attraction of a common
and patriotic enthusiasm.
Speaking in a very general manner, we may say that by the close of the war
Feudalism in France was over, and that France had become, partly in spite
of the war but more largely by reason of it, not only a great monarchy,
but a great nation.
LOUIS XI. AND CHARLES THE BOLD OF BURGUNDY.--The foundations of the French
monarchy were greatly enlarged and strengthened by the unscrupulous
measures of Louis XI. (1461-1483), who was a perfect Ulysses in cunning
and deceit. His maxim was, "He who knows how to deceive, knows how to
reign." The great feudal lords that still retained power and influence, he
brought to destruction one after another, and united their fiefs to the
royal domains. Of all the vassal nobles ruined by the craft and cunning of
Louis, the most famous and powerful was Charles the Bold, Duke of
Burgundy, with whom the French king was almost constantly warring, and
against whom he was forever intriguing. Upon the death of the duke, Louis,
without clear right, seized a great part of his dominions, which were
almost large and rich enough to sustain the dignity of a king. By
inheritance and treaty, Louis also gained large accessions of territory in
the South of France, which gave his kingdom a wide frontage upon the
Mediterranean, and made the Pyrenees its southern defence.
INVASION OF ITALY BY CHARLES VIII.--Charles VIII., the son of Louis XI.,
was the last of the direct line of the Valois. Through the favor of a long
series of circumstances, the persistent policy of his predecessors, and
his own politic marriage, [Footnote: He married Anne of Brittany, and thus
brought that large province, which had hitherto constituted an almost
independent state, under the authority of the French crown.] he found
himself at the head of a state that had been gradually transformed from a
feudal league into a true monarchy. The strength of this kingdom he
determined to employ in some enterprise beyond the limits of France. With
a standing army, created by Charles VII during the latter years of the war
with England, [Footnote: The paid force of infantry and cavalry created by
Charles VII in 1448, was the first standing army in Europe, and the
beginning of that vast military system which now burdens the great nations
of that continent with the support of several millions of soldiers
constantly under arms.] at his command, he invaded Italy, intent on the
conquest of Naples,--to which he laid claim on the strength of some old
bequest,--proposing, with that state subdued, to lead a crusade to the
East against the Turks. He reached Naples in triumph, but was soon forced,
with heavy losses, to retreat into France.
This enterprise of Charles is noteworthy not only because it marks the
commencement of a long series of brilliant yet disastrous campaigns
carried on by the French in Italy, but also on account of Charles' army
having been made up largely of paid troops instead of feudal retainers,
which fact assures us that the Feudal System in France, as a governmental
organization, had come to an end.
_Beginnings of French Literature._
THE TROUBADOURS.--The contact of the old Latin speech in Gaul with that of
the Teutonic invaders gave rise there to two very distinct dialects. These
were the _Langue d'Oc_, or Provencal, the tongue of the South of France
and of the adjoining regions of Spain and Italy; and the _Langue d'Oil_,
or French proper, the language of the North. [Footnote: The terms _Langue
d'Oc_ and _Langue d'Oil_ arose from the use of different words for _yes_,
which in the tongue of the South was _oc_, and in that of the North
About the beginning of the twelfth century, by which time the Provencal
tongue had become settled and somewhat polished, literature in France
first began to find a voice in the songs of the Troubadours, the poets of
the South. It is instructive to note that it was the home of the
Albigensian heresy, the land that had felt the influence of every
Mediterranean civilization, that was also the home of the Troubadour
literature. The Counts of Toulouse, the protectors of the heretics, were
also the patrons of the poets. The same fierce persecution that uprooted
the heretical faith of the Albigenses, also stilled the song of the
Troubadours (see p. 493).
The verses of the Troubadours were sung in every land, and to the
stimulating influence of their musical harmonies the early poetry of
almost every people of Europe is largely indebted.
THE TROUVEURS.--These were the poets of Northern France, who composed in
the _Langue d' Oil_, or Old French tongue. They flourished during the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. While the compositions of the
Troubadours were almost exclusively lyrical songs, those of the Trouveurs
were epic, or narrative poems, called _romances_. They gather about
three great names,--King Arthur, Alexander the Great, and Charlemagne. It
will be noted that the poet story-tellers thus drew their material from
the heroic legends of all the different races that blended to form the
French nation, namely, the Celtic, the Gr�co-Roman, and the Teutonic.
The influence of these French romances upon the springing literatures of
Europe was most inspiring and helpful. Nor has their influence yet ceased.
Thus in English literature, not only did Chaucer and Spenser and all the
early island-poets draw inspiration from these fountains of continental
song, but the later Tennyson, in his _Idylls of the King_, has illustrated
the power over the imagination yet possessed by the Arthurian poems of the
FROISSART'S CHRONICLES.--The first really noted prose writer in French
literature was Froissart (1337-1410), whose entertaining credulity and
artlessness, and skill as a story-teller, have won for him the title of
the French Herodotus. Born, as he was, only a little after the opening of
the Hundred Years' War, and knowing personally many of the actors in that
struggle, it was fitting that he should become, as he did, the annalist of
those stirring times.
The Beginnings of Spain.--When, in the eighth century, the Saracens swept
like a wave over Spain, the mountains of Asturia, in the northwest corner
of the peninsula, afforded a refuge for the most resolute of the Christian
chiefs who refused to submit their necks to the Moslem yoke. These brave
and hardy warriors not only successfully defended the hilly districts that
formed their retreat, but gradually pushed back the invaders, and regained
control of a portion of the fields and cities that had been lost. This
work of reconquest was greatly furthered by Charlemagne, who, it will be
recalled, drove the Saracens out of all the northeastern portion of the
country as far south as the Ebro, and made the subjugated district a
province of his great empire, under the name of the Spanish March.
By the opening of the eleventh century several little Christian states,
among which we must notice the names of Castile and Aragon, because of the
prominent part they were to play in later history, had been established
upon the ground thus recovered or always maintained. Castile was at first
simply "a line of castles" against the Moors, whence its name.
UNION OF CASTILE AND ARAGON (1479).--For several centuries the princes of
the little states to which we have referred kept up an incessant warfare
with their Mohammedan neighbors; owing however to dissensions among
themselves, they were unable to combine in any effective way for the
reconquest of their ancient possessions. But the marriage, in 1469, of
Ferdinand, prince of Aragon, to Isabella, princess of Castile, paved the
way for the union a little later of these two leading states. Thus the
quarrels of these rival principalities were composed, and they were now
free to employ their united strength in effecting what the Christian
princes amidst all their contentions had never lost sight of,--the
expulsion of the Moors from the peninsula.
[Illustration: THE SPANISH KINGDOMS 1800.]
THE CONQUEST OF GRANADA (1492).--At the time when the basis of the Spanish
monarchy was laid by the union of Castile and Aragon, the Mohammedan
possessions had been reduced, by the constant pressure of the Christian
chiefs through eight centuries, to a very limited dominion in the south of
Spain. Here the Moors had established a strong, well-compacted state,
known as the Kingdom of Granada.
As soon as Ferdinand and Isabella had settled the affairs of their
dominions, they began to make preparation for the conquest of Granada,
eager to signalize their reign by the reduction of this last stronghold of
the Moorish power in the peninsula. The Moors made a desperate defence of
their little state. The struggle lasted for ten years. City after city
fell into the hands of the Christian knights, and finally the capital,
Granada, pressed by an army of seventy thousand, was forced to surrender,
and the Cross replaced the Crescent on its walls and towers (1492). The
Moors, or Moriscoes, as they were called, were allowed to remain in the
country and to retain their Mohammedan worship, though under many annoying
restrictions. What is known as their _expulsion_ occurred at a later
date (see p. 538).
[Illustration: THE ALHAMBRA. PALACE OF THE MOORISH KINGS AT GRANADA. (From
The fall of Granada holds an important place among the many significant
events that mark the latter half of the fifteenth century. It ended, after
an existence of eight hundred years, the Mohammedan kingdom in the Spanish
peninsula, and thus formed an offset to the progress of the Moslem power
in Eastern Europe and the loss to the Christian world of Constantinople.
It advanced Spain to the first rank among the nations of Europe, and gave
her arms a prestige that secured for her position, influence, and
deference long after the decline of her power had commenced.
THE INQUISITION.--Ferdinand greatly enhanced his power by the active and
tyrannical use of the Inquisition, a court that had been established by
the Church for the purpose of detecting and punishing heresy. The chief
victims of the tribunal were the Moors and Jews, but it was also directed
against the enemies of the sovereign among the nobility and the clergy.
The Holy Office, as the tribunal was styled, thus became the instrument of
the most incredible cruelty. Thousands were burned at the stake, and tens
of thousands more condemned to endure penalties scarcely less terrible.
Queen Isabella, in giving her consent to the establishment of the tribunal
in her dominions, was doubtless actuated by the purest religious zeal, and
sincerely believed that in suppressing heresy she was discharging a simple
duty, and rendering God good service. "In the love of Christ and his Maid-
Mother," she says, "I have caused great misery. I have depopulated towns
and districts, provinces and kingdoms."
DEATH OF FERDINAND AND OF ISABELLA.--Queen Isabella died in 1504, and
Ferdinand followed her in the year 1516, upon which latter event the crown
of Spain descended upon the head of his grandson, Charles, of whom we
shall hear much as Emperor Charles V. With his reign the modern history of
_Beginnings of the Spanish Language and Literature._
THE LANGUAGE.--After the union of Castile and Aragon it was the language
of the former that became the speech of the Spanish court. During the
reign of Ferdinand and Isabella it gradually gained the ascendancy over
the numerous dialects of the country, and became the national speech, just
as in France the Langue d'Oil finally crowded out all other dialects. By
the conquests and colonizations of the sixteenth century this Castilian
speech was destined to become only less widely spread than the English
THE POEM OF THE CID.--Castilian, or Spanish literature begins in the
twelfth century with the romance-poem of the _Cid_ (that is, _Chief_, the
title of the hero of the poem), one of the great literary productions of
the medi�val period. This grand national poem was the outgrowth of the
sentiments inspired by the long struggle between the Spanish Christians
and the Mohammedan Moors.
[Illustration: SARCOPHAGUS OF FERDINAND AND ISABELLA, AT GRANADA. (From a
BEGINNINGS OF THE KINGDOM OF GERMANY.--The history of Germany as a
separate kingdom begins with the break-up of the empire of Charlemagne
(see p. 408). Germany at that time comprised several groups of tribes,--
the Saxons, the Suabians, the Thuringians, the Bavarians, and the Franks.
Closely allied in race, speech, manners, and social arrangements, all
these peoples seemed ready to be welded into a close and firm nation; but,
unfortunately, the circumstances tending to keep the several states or
communities apart were stronger than those operating to draw them
together, so that for a thousand years after Charlemagne we find them
constituting hardly anything more than a very loose confederation, the
members of which were constantly struggling among themselves for
supremacy, or were engaged in private wars with the neighboring nations.
[Footnote: During the medi�val period, Germany was under the following
lines of kings and emperors:--
Carolingians. . . . . . . . . . . . . 843-911
Conrad of Franconia.. . . . . . . . . 911-918
Saxon Emperors. . . . . . . . . . . . 919-1024
Franconian Emperors . . . . . . . . . 1024-1125
Lothair of Saxony . . . . . . . . . . 1125-1137
Hohenstaufen Emperors . . . . . . . . 1138-1254
The Interregnum . . . . . . . . . . . 1254-1273
Emperors of different Houses. . . . . 1273-1438
Emperors of the House of Austria. . . 1438-]
That which more than all else operated to prevent Germany from becoming a
powerful, closely-knit nation, was the adoption by the German rulers of an
unfortunate policy respecting a world-empire. This matter will be
explained in the following paragraphs.
RENEWAL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE BY OTTO THE GREAT (962).--When the dominions
of Charlemagne were divided among his three grandsons (see p. 408), the
Imperial title was given to Lothair, to whom fell Italy and the Rhine-
land. The title, however, meant scarcely anything, carrying with it little
or no real authority. Thus matters ran on for more than a century, the
empty honor of the title sometimes being enjoyed by the kings of Italy,
and again by those of Germany.
But with the accession of the second of the Saxon line, Otto I., who was
crowned king at Aachen in 936, there appeared among the princes of Europe
a second Charlemagne. He was easily first among them all. Besides being
king of Germany, he became, through, interference on request in the
affairs of Italy, king of that country also. Furthermore, he wrested large
tracts of land from the Slavonians, and forced the Danes, Poles, and
Hungarians to acknowledge his suzerainty. Thus favored by fortune, he
naturally conceived the idea of restoring once more the Roman empire, even
as it had been revived by Charles the Great (see p. 406).
So in 962, just a little more than a century and a half after the
coronation at Rome of Charlemagne as emperor, Otto, at the same place and
by the same papal authority, was crowned Emperor of the Romans. For a
generation no one had borne the title. From this time on it was the rule
that the German king who was crowned at Aachen had a right to be crowned
king of Italy at Milan, and emperor at Rome (Freeman). Thus three crowns,
and in time still more, came to be heaped upon a single head.
CONSEQUENCES TO GERMANY OF THE REVIVAL OF THE EMPIRE.--The scheme of Otto
respecting a world-empire was a grand one, but, as had been demonstrated
by the failure of the attempt of Charlemagne, was an utterly impracticable
idea. It was simply a dream, and never became anything more than a ghostly
shadow. Yet the pursuit of this phantom by the German kings resulted in
the most woeful consequences to Germany. Trying to grasp too much, these
rulers seized nothing at all. Attempting to be emperors of the world, they
failed to become even kings of Germany. While engaged in their schemes of
foreign conquest, their home affairs were neglected, and their vassals
succeeded in increasing their power and making it hereditary. Thus while
the kings of England, France, and Spain were gradually consolidating their
dominions, and building up strong centralized monarchies on the ruins of
Feudalism, the sovereigns of Germany, neglecting the affairs of their own
kingdom, were allowing it to become split up into a vast number of
virtually independent states, the ambitions and jealousies of whose rulers
were to postpone the unification of Germany for four or five hundred
years--until our own day.
Had the emperors inflicted loss and disaster upon Germany alone through
their pursuit of this phantom, the case would not be so lamentable; but
Italy was made the camping field of the Imperial armies, and the whole
peninsula kept distracted with the bitter quarrels of Guelphs and
Ghibellines (see p. 504), and thus the nationalization of the Italian
people was also delayed for centuries.
Germany received just one positive compensation for all this loss accruing
from the ambition of her kings. This was the gift of Italian civilization,
which came into the country through the connections of the emperors with
GERMANY UNDER THE HOHENSTAUFEN EMPERORS (1138-1254).--The Hohenstaufen, or
Suabian dynasty was a most notable line of emperors. The matter of chief
importance in German history under the Hohenstaufen is the long and bitter
conflict, begun generations before, that was waged between them and the
Popes (see p. 455). Germany and Italy were divided into two great parties,
known as Welfs and Waiblings, or, as designated in Italy, Guelphs and
Ghibellines, the former adhering to the Pope, the latter to the Emperor.
The issue of a century's contention was the complete ruin of the House of
The most noted ruler of the line was Frederick I. (1152-1190), better
known as _Frederick Barbarossa_, from his red beard. He gave Germany
a good and strong government, and gained a sure place in the affections of
the German people, who came to regard him as the representative of the
sentiment of German nationality. When news of his death was brought back
from the East,--it will be recalled that he took part in the Third
Crusade, and lost his life in Asia Minor (see p. 445),--they refused to
believe that he was dead, and, as time passed, a tradition arose which
told how he slept in a cavern beneath one of his castles on a mountain-
top, and how, when the ravens should cease to circle about the hill, he
would appear, to make the German people a nation united and strong.
Frederick Barbarossa was followed by his son Henry VI. (1190-1197), who,
by marriage, had acquired a claim to the kingdom of Sicily.[Footnote: The
Hohenstaufen held the kingdom until 1265, when the Pope gave it as a fief
to Charles I. of Anjou (brother of Louis IX. of France), who beheaded the
rightful heir, the ill-starred boy Conradin, the last of the Hohenstaufen
race (1268). Charles' oppressive rule led to a revolt of his island
subjects, and to the great massacre known as the Sicilian Vespers (1282).
All of the hated race of Frenchmen were either killed or driven out of the
island.] Almost all his time and resources were spent in reducing that
remote realm to a state of proper subjection to his authority. By thus
leading the emperors to neglect their German subjects and interests, this
southern kingdom proved a fatal dower to the Suabian house.
By the close of the Hohenstaufen period, Germany was divided into two
hundred and seventy-six virtually independent states, the princes and
nobles having taken advantage of the prolonged absences of the emperors,
or their troubles with the Popes, to free themselves almost completely
from the control of the crown. There was really no longer either a German
kingdom or a Roman empire.
CATHEDRAL-BUILDING.--The age of the Hohenstaufen was the age of the
Crusades, which is to say that it was the age of religious faith. The most
striking expression of the spirit of the period, if we except the Holy
Wars, is to be found in the sacred architecture of the time. The style of
architecture first employed was the Romanesque, characterized by the
rounded arch and the dome; but towards the close of the twelfth century
this was superseded by the Gothic, distinguished by the pointed arch, the
tower or the slender spire, and rich ornamentation.
The enthusiasm for church-building was universal throughout Europe; yet
nowhere did it find nobler or more sustained expression than in Germany.
Among the most noted of the German cathedrals are the one at Strasburg,
begun in the eleventh century, and that at Cologne, commenced in 1248, but
not wholly finished until our own day (in 1880).
RISE OF THE SWISS REPUBLIC.--The most noteworthy matters in German history
during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, are the struggles between
the Swiss and the dukes of Austria; the religious movement of the
Hussites; and the growing power of the House of Austria.
From early in the eleventh century, the country now known as Switzerland
was a part of the Holy Roman Empire; but its liberty-loving people never
acknowledged any man as their master, save the German emperor, to whom
they yielded a merely nominal obedience. The dukes of Austria, princes of
the empire, laid claim to a certain authority over them, and tried to make
themselves masters in Switzerland. This led to a memorable struggle
between the dukes and the brave mountaineers. To the early part of the
contest belongs the legend of William Tell, which historical criticism now
pronounces a myth, with nothing but the revolt as the nucleus of fact.
In 1315, at the noted battle of Morgarten Pass, the Austrians suffered a
severe defeat at the hands of the Swiss patriots. Later in the same
century, the Austrians sustained another defeat on the memorable field of
Sempach (1386). It was here, tradition says, that Arnold of Winkelried
broke the ranks of the Austrians, by collecting in his arms as many of
their lances as he could, and, as they pierced his breast, bearing them
with him to the ground, exclaiming, "Comrades, I will open a road for
Shortly after the battle of Sempach, the Eidgenossen, or Confederates, as
the Swiss were at this time called, gained another victory over the
Austrians at Wafels (1388), which placed on a firm basis the growing power
of the League.
THE HUSSITES.--About the beginning of the fifteenth century, the doctrines
of the English reformer, Wycliffe (see p. 490) began to spread in
Bohemia. The chief of the new sect was John Huss, a professor of the
University of Prague. The doctrines of the reformer were condemned by the
great Council of Constance, and Huss himself, having been delivered over
into the hands of the civil authorities for punishment, was burned at the
stake (1415). The following year Jerome of Prague, another reformer, was
Shortly after the burning of Huss a crusade was proclaimed against his
followers, who had risen in arms. Then began a cruel, desolating war of
fifteen years, the outcome of which was the almost total extermination of
the radical party among the Hussites. With the more moderate of the
reformers, however, a treaty was made which secured them freedom of
[Illustration: CENTRAL EUROPE 1880.]
THE IMPERIAL CROWN BECOMES HEREDITARY IN THE HOUSE OF AUSTRIA (1438).--In
the year 1438, Albert, Duke of Austria, was raised by the Electors
[Footnote: When, in the beginning of the tenth century, the German
Carolingian line became extinct, the great nobles of the kingdom assumed
the right of choosing the successor of the last of the house, and Germany
thus became an elective feudal monarchy. In the course of time a few of
the leading nobles usurped the right of choosing the king, and these
princes became known as Electors. There were, at the end of the
Hohenstaufen period, seven princes who enjoyed this important privilege,
four of whom were secular princes and three spiritual.] to the Imperial
throne. His accession marks an epoch in German history, for from this time
until. the dissolution of the empire by Napoleon in 1806, the Imperial
crown was regarded as hereditary in the Hapsburg [Footnote: The House of
Austria is often so called from the Castle of Hapsburg in Switzerland, the
cradle of the family.] family, the Electors, although never failing to go
through the formality of an election, almost always choosing one of the
members of that house as king.
From the beginning of the practically uninterrupted succession upon the
Imperial throne of the princes of the House of Austria, up to the close of
the Middle Ages, the power and importance of the family steadily
increased, until it seemed that Austria would overshadow all the other
German states, and subject them to her sway; would, in a word, become
Germany, just as Francia in Gaul had become France. But this, as we shall
learn, never came about.
[Illustration: GERMAN FOOT-SOLDIER (15th Century.)]
The greatest of the Hapsburg line during the medi�val period was
Maximilian I. (1493-1519). His reign is in every way a noteworthy one in
German history, marking, as it does, a strong tendency to centralization,
and the material enhancement of the Imperial authority.
_Beginning of German Literature._
SONG OF THE NIBELUNGEN.--It was under the patronage of the Hohenstaufen
that Germany produced the first pieces of a national literature. The "Song
of the Nibelungen" is the great German medi�val epic. It was reduced to
writing about 1200, being a recast, by some Homeric genius, perhaps, of
ancient German and Scandinavian legends and lays dating from the sixth and
seventh centuries. The hero of the story is Siegfried, the Achilles of
Teutonic legend and song.
THE MINNESINGERS.--Under the same emperors, during the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, the Minnesingers, or lyric poets, flourished. They
were the "Troubadours of Germany." For the most part, refined and tender
and chivalrous and pure, the songs of these poets tended to soften the
manners and lift the hearts of the German people.
BEGINNINGS OF RUSSIA.--We have seen how, about the middle of the ninth
century, the Swedish adventurer Ruric laid, among the Slavonian tribes
dwelling eastward from the Baltic, the foundation of what was destined to
become one of the leading powers of Europe (see p. 411). The state came to
be known as Russia, probably from the word _Ruotsi_ (corsairs?), the
name given by the Finns to the foreigners.
THE TARTAR CONQUEST.--In the thirteenth century an overwhelming calamity
befell Russia. This was the overrunning and conquest of the country by the
Tartar hordes (see p. 461). The barbarian conquerors inflicted the most
horrible atrocities upon the unfortunate land, and for more than two
hundred years held the Russian princes in a degrading bondage, forcing
them to pay homage and tribute. This misfortune delayed for centuries the
nationalization of the Slavonian peoples.
RUSSIA FREED FROM THE MONGOLS.--It was not until the reign of Ivan the
Great (1462-1505) that Russia,--now frequently called Muscovy from the
fact that it had been reorganized with Moscow as a centre,--after a
terrible struggle, succeeded in freeing itself from the hateful Tartar
domination, and began to assume the character of a well-consolidated
Thus, by the end of the Middle Ages, Russia had become a really great
power; but she was as yet too much hemmed in by hostile states to be able
to make her influence felt in the affairs of Europe. Between her and the
Caspian and Euxine were the Tartars; shutting her out from the Baltic were
the Swedes and other peoples; and between her and Germany were the
Lithuanians and Poles.
NO NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.--In marked contrast to all those countries of
which we have thus far spoken, unless we except Germany, Italy came to the
close of the Middle Ages without a national or regular government. This is
to be attributed in large part to that unfortunate rivalry between Pope
and Emperor which resulted in dividing Italy into the two hostile camps of
Guelph and Ghibelline. And yet the medi�val period did not pass without
attempts on the part of patriot spirits to effect some sort of political
union among the different cities and states of the peninsula. The most
noteworthy of these movements, and one which gave assurance that the spark
of patriotism which was in time to flame into an inextinguishable passion
for national unity was kindling in the Italian heart, was that headed by
the hero Rienzi, in the fourteenth century.
RIENZI, TRIBUNE OF ROME (1347).--During the greater part of the fourteenth
century the seat of the Papal See was at Avignon, beyond the Alps (see p.
457). Throughout this period of the "Babylonish captivity," Rome, deprived
of her natural guardians, was in a state of the greatest confusion. The
nobles terrorized the country about the capital, and kept the streets of
the city itself in constant turmoil with their bitter feuds.
In the midst of these disorders there appeared from among the lowest ranks
of the people a deliverer in the person of one Nicola di Rienzi. Possessed
of considerable talent and great eloquence, Rienzi easily incited the
people to a revolt against the rule, or rather misrule, of the nobles, and
succeeded in having himself, with the title of Tribune, placed at the head
of a new government for Rome.
Encouraged by the success that had thus far attended his schemes, Rienzi
now began to concert measures for the union of all the principalities and
commonwealths of Italy in a great republic, with Rome as its capital. He
sent ambassadors throughout Italy to plead, at the courts of the princes
and in the council chamber of the municipalities, the cause of Italian
unity and freedom. The splendid dream of Rienzi was shared by other
Italian patriots besides himself, among whom was the poet Petrarch, who
was the friend and encourager of the "plebeian hero."
But the moment for Italy's unification had not yet come. Not only were
there hindrances to the national movement in the ambitions and passions of
rival parties and classes, but there were still greater impediments in the
character of the plebeian patriot himself. Rienzi proved to be an unworthy
leader. His sudden elevation and surprising success completely turned his
head, and he soon began to exhibit the most incredible vanity and
weakness. The people withdrew from him their support, and he was finally
Thus vanished the dream of Rienzi and Petrarch, of the hero and the poet.
Centuries of division, of shameful subjection to foreign princes,--French,
Spanish, and Austrian,--of wars and suffering, were yet before the Italian
people ere Rome should become the centre of a free, orderly, and united
THE RENAISSANCE.--Though the Middle Ages closed in Italy without the rise
there of a national government, still before the end of the period much
had been done to awaken those common ideas and sentiments upon which
political unity can alone safely repose. Literature and art here performed
the part that war did in other countries in arousing a national spirit.
The Renaissance (see p. 474) did much toward creating among the Italians a
common pride in race and country; and thus this great literary and
artistic enthusiasm was the first step in a course of national development
which was to lead the Italian people to a common political life.
Upon the literary phase of the Italian Renaissance we have said something
in the chapter on the Revival of Learning (see p. 474); we shall here say
just a word respecting the artistic side of the movement.
The most splendid period of the art revival covered the latter part of the
fifteenth century and the first half of the sixteenth. The characteristic
art of the Renaissance in Italy was painting, although the �sthetic genius
of the Italians also expressed itself both in architecture and sculpture.
[Footnote: The four supreme masters of the Italian Renaissance were
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michael Angelo (1475-1564), Raphael (1483-
1520), and Titian (1477-1576). All were great painters. Perhaps the one of
greatest, at least of most varied, genius, was Michael Angelo, who was at
once architect, painter, and sculptor. His grandest architectural triumph
was the majestic dome of St. Peter's,--which work, however, he did not
live to see completed.] The medi�val artists devoted themselves to
painting instead of sculpture, for the reason that it best expresses the
ideas and sentiments of Christianity. The art that would be the handmaid
of the Church needed to be able to represent faith and hope, ecstasy and
suffering,--none of which things can well be expressed by sculpture, which
is essentially the art of repose.
SAVONAROLA (1452-1498).--A word must here be said respecting the
Florentine monk and reformer Girolamo Savonarola, who stands as the most
noteworthy personage in Italy during the closing years of the medi�val
Savonarola was at once Roman censor and Hebrew prophet. Such a preacher of
righteousness the world had not seen since the days of Elijah. His
powerful preaching alarmed the conscience of the Florentines. At his
suggestion the women brought their finery and ornaments, and others their
beautiful works of art, and piling them in great heaps in the streets of
Florence, burned them as "vanities." Savonarola even persuaded the people
of Florence to set up a sort of theocratic government, of which Christ was
the acknowledged head. But at length the activity of his enemies brought
about the reformer's downfall, and he was condemned to death, executed,
and his body burned. Savonarola may be regarded as the last great medi�val
forerunner of the reformers of the sixteenth century.
7. THE NORTHERN COUNTRIES.
THE UNION OF CALMAR.--The great Scandinavian Exodus of the ninth and tenth
centuries drained the Northern lands of some of the best elements of their
population. For this reason these countries did not play as prominent a
part in medi�val history as they would otherwise have done. The constant
quarrels between their sovereigns and the nobility were also another cause
of internal weakness.
In the year 1397, by what is known as the Union of Calmar, the three
kingdoms of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden were united under Margaret of
Denmark, "the Semiramis of the North." The treaty provided that each
country should make its own laws. But the treaty was violated, and though
the friends of the measure had hoped much from it, it brought only
jealousies, feuds, and wars.
The Swedes arose again and again in revolt, and finally, under the lead of
a nobleman named Gustavus Vasa, made good their independence (1523).
During the seventeenth century, under the descendants and successors of
the Liberator, Sweden was destined to play an important part in the
affairs of the continent.
Norway became virtually a province of Denmark, and the Norwegian nobles
were driven into exile or killed. The country remained attached to the
Danish Crown until the present century.
SECTION II.--MODERN HISTORY.
As an introduction to the history of the Modern Age, we shall give a brief
account of the voyages and geographical discoveries of Columbus, Vasco da
Gama, and Magellan, and of the beginning of European conquests and
settlements in the New World, inasmuch as these great events lie at the
opening of the era and form the prelude of its story.
DISCOVERY OF THE NEW WORLD BY COLUMBUS (1492).--Christopher Columbus was
one of those Genoese navigators who, when Genoa's Asiatic lines of trade
were broken by the irruption of the Turks (see p. 467), conceived the idea
of reaching India by an ocean route. While others were endeavoring to
reach that country by sailing around the southern point of Africa, he
proposed the bolder plan of reaching this eastern land by sailing directly
westward. The sphericity of the earth was a doctrine held by many at that
day; but the theory was not in harmony with the religious ideas of the
time, and so it was not prudent for one to publish too openly one's belief
in the notion.
[Illustration: COLUMBUS. (After the Yanez Portrait in the Madrid
In his endeavors to secure a patron for his enterprise, Columbus met at
first with repeated repulse and disappointment. At last, however, he
gained the ear of Queen Isabella of Spain; a little fleet was fitted out
for the explorer,--and the New World was found.
Columbus never received a fitting reward for the great service he had
rendered mankind. Even the continent to which he had shown the way,
instead of being called after him as a perpetual memorial, was named from
a Florentine navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, whose chief claim to this
distinction was his having published the first account of the new lands.
[Illustration: THE OCEAN AND ISLANDS BETWEEN WESTERN EUROPE AND EASTERN
ASIA. From the Globe of Martin Behaim, 1492. (Cathaja--China; Cipango =
THE VOYAGE OF VASCO DA GAMA (1497-1498).--The favorable position of
Portugal upon the Atlantic seaboard naturally led her sovereigns to
conceive the idea of competing with the Italian cities for the trade of
the East Indies, by opening up an ocean route to those lands. During all
the latter part of the fifteenth century Portuguese sailors were year
after year penetrating a little farther into the mysterious tropical seas,
and exploring new reaches of the western coast of Africa.
In 1487 the most southern point of the continent was reached, and was
named the Cape of Good Hope, as the possibility of reaching India by sea
now seemed assured. A decade later Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese admiral,
doubled the Cape, crossed the Indian Sea, and landed on the coast of
The discovery of a water-path to India effected, as we have already
noticed (see p. 467), most important changes in the traffic of the world.
It made the ports of Portugal and of other countries on the Atlantic
seaboard the depots of the Eastern trade. "The front of Europe was
suddenly changed." The Italian merchants were ruined. The great warehouses
of Egypt and Syria were left empty. The traffic of the Mediterranean
dwindled to insignificant proportions. Portugal established trading-posts
and colonies in the East, and built up there a great empire,--like that
which England is maintaining in the same region at the present day.
THE VOYAGE AROUND THE GLOBE (1519-1522).--Upon the return of Columbus from
his successful expedition, Pope Alexander VI., with a view to adjusting
the conflicting claims of Spain and Portugal, divided the world by a
meridian line drawn about midway through the Atlantic, and gave to the
Spanish sovereigns all unclaimed pagan lands that their subjects might
find west of this line, and to the Portuguese kings all new pagan lands
discovered by Portuguese navigators east of the designated meridian.
The determination on the part of the king of Spain to acquire title under
the papal grant to the valuable Spice Islands of the Pacific by reaching
them through sailing westward, led him to organize an expedition of
discovery in the western seas. The little fleet was entrusted to the
command of Magellan, a Portuguese admiral.
Magellan directed his fleet in a southwesterly course across the Atlantic,
hoping to find towards the south a break in the land discovered by
Columbus. Near the most southern point of Patagonia he found the narrow
strait that now bears his name, through which he pushed his vessel into
the sea beyond. From the calm, unruffled face of the new ocean, so
different from the stormy Atlantic, he gave to it the name _Pacific_.
After a most adventurous voyage upon the hitherto untraversed waters of
the new sea, the expedition reached the Spice Islands, and eventually
arrived home, after an absence of over three years. For the first time men
had gone around the globe that they had so long lived upon. The
achievement of course settled forever the question as to the shape of the
earth. It pushed aside all the old narrow geographical ideas, and
broadened immensely the physical horizon of the world.
CONQUEST OF MEXICO (1519-1521).--Soon after the discovery of the New
World, Spanish settlements were established upon the islands in front of
the Gulf of Mexico. Among the colonists here were constantly spread
reports of a great and rich Indian monarchy upon the mainland to the west.
These stories inflamed the imagination of the more adventurous among the
settlers, and an expedition was organized and placed under the command of
Hernando Cortez, for the conquest and "conversion" of the heathen nation.
The expedition was successful, and soon the Spaniards were masters of the
greater part of Mexico.
The state that the conquerors destroyed was hardly an "empire," as termed
by the Spanish writers, but rather a confederacy, somewhat like the
Iroquois confederacy in the North. It embraced three tribes, of which the
Aztecs were leaders. At the head of the league was a war-chief, who bore
the name of Montezuma.
The Mexican Indians had taken some steps in civilization. They employed a
system of picture-writing, and had cities and temples. But they were
cannibals, and offered human sacrifices to their gods. They had no
knowledge of the horse or of the ox, and were of course ignorant of the
use of fire-arms.
THE CONQUEST OF PERU (1532-1536).--Shortly after the conquest of the
Indians of Mexico, the subjugation of the Indians of Peru was also
effected. The civilization of the Peruvians was superior to that of the
Mexicans. Not only were the great cities of the Peruvian empire filled
with splendid temples and palaces, but throughout the country were
magnificent works of public utility, such as roads, bridges, and
aqueducts. The government of the Incas, the royal, or ruling race, was a
mild, parental autocracy.
Glowing reports of the enormous wealth of the Incas,--the commonest
articles in whose palaces, it was asserted, were of solid gold, reached
the Spaniards by way of the Isthmus of Darien, and it was not long before
an expedition was organized for the conquest of the country. The leader of
the band was Francisco Pizarro, an iron-hearted, perfidious, and
Through treachery, Pizarro made a prisoner of the Inca Atahualpa. The
captive offered, as a ransom for his release, to fill the room in which he
was confined "as high as he could reach" with vessels of gold. Pizarro
accepted the offer, and the palaces and temples throughout the empire were
stripped of their golden vessels, and the apartment was filled with the
precious relics. The value of the treasure is estimated at over
$17,000,000. When this vast wealth was once under the control of the
Spaniards, they seized it all, and then treacherously put the Inca to
death (1533). With the death of Atahualpa the power of the Inca dynasty
passed away forever.
SPANISH COLONIZATION IN THE NEW WORLD.--Not until more than one hundred
years after the discovery of the Western Hemisphere by Columbus, was there
established a single permanent English settlement within the limits of
what is now the United States, the portion of the New World destined to be
taken possession of by the peoples of Northern Europe, and to become the
home of civil and religious freedom.
But into those parts of the new lands opened up by Spanish exploration and
conquest there began to pour at once a tremendous stream of Spanish
adventurers and colonists, in search of fortune and fame. It was a sort of
Spanish migration. The movement might be compared to the rush of
population from the Eastern States to California, after the announcement
of the discovery there of gold, in 1848-9. Upon the West India Islands, in
Mexico, in Central America, all along the Pacific slope of the Andes, and
everywhere upon the lofty and pleasant table-lands that had formed the
heart of the empire of the Incas, there sprang up rapidly great cities as
the centres of mining and agricultural industries, of commerce and of
trade. Thus did a Greater Spain grow up in the New World. It was, in a
large measure, the treasures derived from these new possessions that
enabled the sovereigns of Spain to play the imposing part they did in the
affairs of Europe during the century following the discovery of America.
[Footnote: After having robbed the Indians of their wealth in gold and
silver, the slow accumulations of centuries, the Spaniards further
enriched themselves by the enforced labor of the unfortunate natives.
Unused to such toil as was exacted of them under the lash of worse than
Egyptian task-masters, the Indians wasted away by millions in the mines of
Mexico and Peru, and upon the sugar plantations of the West Indies. More
than half of the native population of Peru is thought to have been
consumed in the Peruvian mines. To save the Indians, negroes were
introduced as a substitute for native laborers. This was the beginning of
the African slave-trade in the New World. The traffic was especially
encouraged by a benevolent priest named Las Casas (1474-1566), known as
the "Apostle of the Indians." Thus the gigantic evil of African slavery in
the Western Hemisphere, like the gladiatorial shows of the Romans, was
brought into existence, or, rather, in its beginning was fostered, by a
philanthropic desire and effort to mitigate human suffering.]
FIRST PERIOD.--THE ERA OF THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION.
(FROM THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA TO THE PEACE OF WESTPHALIA, IN 1648.)
THE BEGINNING OF THE REFORMATION UNDER LUTHER.
GENERAL STATEMENT.--We have already indicated (see pp. 366-7), the two
periods of modern history; namely, the _Era of the Protestant Reformation_
and the _Era of the Political Revolution_. We need here simply to remind
the reader that the first period, extending from the opening of the
sixteenth century to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, is characterized by
the revolt of the nations of Northern Europe against the spiritual
jurisdiction of Rome, and the great combat between Protestantism and
Catholicism; and that the second period, running from the Peace of
Westphalia to our own day, is distinguished by the contest between the
people and their rulers, or, in other words, by the conflict between
liberal and despotic principles of government.
We shall now proceed to speak of the causes and general features of the
Reformation, and in succeeding chapters shall follow its fortunes in the
various countries of Europe.
EXTENT OF ROME'S SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY AT THE OPENING OF THE SIXTEENTH
CENTURY.--In a preceding chapter on the Papacy it was shown how perfect at
one time was the obedience of the West, not only to the spiritual, but to
the temporal, authority of the Pope. It was also shown how the papal claim
of the right to dictate in temporal or governmental affairs was
practically rejected by the princes and sovereigns of Europe as early as
the fourteenth century (see p. 458). But previous to the opening of the
sixteenth century there had been comparatively few--though there had been
some, like the Albigenses in the South of France, the Wickliffites in
England, and the Hussites in Bohemia--who denied the supreme and
infallible authority of the bishops of Rome in all matters touching
religion. Speaking in a very general manner, it would be correct to say
that at the close of the fifteenth century all the nations of Western
Europe professed the faith of the Latin, or Roman Catholic Church, and
yielded spiritual obedience to the Papal See.
CAUSES OF REFORMATION.--We must now seek the causes which led one-half of
the nations of Europe to secede, as it were, from the Roman Catholic
Church. The causes were many. Among others may be mentioned the great
mental awakening which marked the close of the medi�val and the opening of
the modern age; for the intellectual revival, though often spoken of, in
so far as it concerned the Northern nations, as an effect of the religious
revival, was in reality at once cause and effect. It hastened the
Reformation, and was itself hastened by it. And in connection with the
Revival of Learning must be mentioned the invention of printing as a
powerful agency in the promotion of the religious movement. The press
scattered broadcast over Europe, not only the Bible, but the writings of
the men who had begun to doubt the scriptural authority for many of the
doctrines and ceremonies of the Church,--such as devotion to the Virgin
Mary, the invoking of saints, the use of images, confession to a priest,
and the nature of the elements in the Eucharist. These writings of course
stirred up debate, and led to questioning and criticism.
A second cause was the existence of most serious scandals and abuses in
the Church. During the fifteenth century, the morality of the Church was
probably lower than at any other period in its history. The absolute
necessity of its thorough reform in both "head and members" was recognized
by all earnest and spiritual-minded men. The only difference of opinion
among such was as to the manner in which the work of purification should
A third cause may be found in the claims of the Popes to the right to
interfere in the internal, governmental affairs of a nation; for, although
these claims had been rejected by the sovereigns of Europe, they were
nevertheless still maintained by the Roman bishops, and this caused the
temporal princes to regard with great jealousy the papal power.
But foremost among the proximate causes, and the actual _occasion_ of
the revolution, was the controversy which arose about indulgences. These,
in the Catholic Church, are remissions, to penitents, of punishment due
for sin, upon the performance of some work of mercy or piety, or the
payment of a sum of money. It is, and always has been, the theory of the
Catholic Church, that the indulgence remits merely temporal penalties,--
that is, penalties imposed by ecclesiastical authority, and the pains of
Purgatory,--and that it can take effect only upon certain conditions,
among which is that of sincere repentance. Indulgences were frequently
granted by various pontiffs, as a means of raising funds for pious
enterprises. A considerable portion of the money for building the
Cathedral of St. Peter at Rome was raised in this manner.
TETZEL AND THE PREACHING OF INDULGENCES.--Leo X., upon his election to the
papal dignity, in 1513, found the coffers of the Church almost empty; and,
being in pressing need of money to carry on his various undertakings,
among which was work upon St. Peter's, he had recourse to the then common
expedient of a grant of indulgences. He delegated the power of dispensing
these in Germany to the archbishop of Magdeburg, who employed a Dominican
friar by the name of Tetzel as his deputy in Saxony.
The archbishop was unfortunate in the selection of his agent. Tetzel
carried out his commission in such a way as to give rise to great scandal.
The language that he, or at least his subordinates, used, in exhorting the
people to comply with the conditions of gaining the indulgences, one of
which was a donation of money, was unseemly and exaggerated. The result
was that erroneous views as to the effect of indulgences began to spread
among the ignorant and credulous, some being so far misled as to think
that if they only contributed this money to the building of St. Peter's at
Rome they would be exempt from all penalty for sins, paying little heed to
the other conditions, such as sorrow for sin, and purpose of amendment.
Hence, many were led to declaim against the procedure of the zealous
friar. These protests were the near mutterings of a storm that had long
been gathering, and that was soon to shake all Europe from the Baltic to
[Illustration: MARTIN LUTHER]
MARTIN LUTHER.--Foremost among those who opposed and denounced Tetzel was
Martin Luther (1483-1546), an Augustine monk, and a teacher of theology in
the university of Wittenberg. He was of humble parentage, his father being
a poor miner. The boy possessed a good voice, and frequently, while a
student, earned his bread by singing from door to door. The natural bent
of his mind, and, if we may believe a somewhat doubtful legend, the death
of a friend struck down at his side by lightning, led him to resolve to
enter a monastery and devote himself to the service of the Church. Before
Tetzel appeared in Germany, Luther had already earned a wide reputation
for learning and piety.
THE NINETY-FIVE THESES.--The form which Church penances had taken in the
hands of Tetzel and his associates, together with other circumstances,
awakened in Luther's mind doubts and questionings as to many of the
doctrines of the Church. Especially was there gradually maturing within
him a conviction that the entire system of ecclesiastical penances and
indulgences was unscriptural and wrong. His last lingering doubt
respecting this matter appears to have been removed while, during an
official visit to Rome in 1510, he was penitentially ascending on his
knees the sacred stairs (_scala santa_) of the Lateran, when he
seemed to hear an inner voice declaring, "The just shall live by faith."
At length Luther drew up ninety-five theses, or articles, wherein he
fearlessly stated his views respecting indulgences. These theses, written
in Latin, he nailed to the door of the church at Wittenberg, and invited
all scholars to examine and criticise them, and to point out if in any
respect they were opposed to the teachings of the Word of God, or of the
early Fathers of the Church (1517). By means of the press the theses were
scattered with incredible rapidity throughout every country in Europe.
BURNING OF THE PAPAL BULL (1520).--All the continent was now plunged into
a perfect tumult of controversy. Luther, growing bolder, was soon
attacking the entire system and body of teachings of the Roman Catholic
Church. At first the Pope, Leo X., was inclined to regard the whole matter
as "a mere squabble of monks," but at length he felt constrained to issue
a bull against the audacious reformer (1520). His writings were condemned
as heretical, and all persons were forbidden to read them; and he himself,
if he did not recant his errors within sixty days, was to be seized and
sent to Rome to be dealt with as an heretic. Luther in reply publicly
burned the papal bull at one of the gates of Wittenberg.
THE DIET OF WORMS (1521).--Leo now invoked the aid of the recently elected
Emperor Charles the Fifth in extirpating the spreading heresy. The emperor
complied by summoning Luther before the Diet of Worms, an assembly of the
princes, nobles, and clergy of Germany, convened at Worms to deliberate
upon the affairs of Germany, and especially upon matters touching the
great religious controversy.
Called upon in the Imperial assembly to recant his errors, Luther steadily
refused to do so, unless his teachings could be shown to be inconsistent
with the Bible. Although some wished to deliver the reformer to the
flames, the safe-conduct of the emperor under which he had come to the
Diet protected him. So Luther was allowed to depart in safety, but was
followed by a decree of the assembly which pronounced him a heretic and an
But Luther had powerful friends among the princes of Germany, one of whom
was his own prince, Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony. Solicitors for
the safety of the reformer, the prince caused him to be seized on his way
from the Diet by a company of masked horsemen, who carried him to the
castle of the Wartburg, where he was kept about a year, his retreat being
known only to a few friends. During this period of forced retirement from
the world, Luther was hard at work upon his celebrated translation of the
THE PEASANTS' WAR (1524-1525).--Before quite a year had passed, Luther was
called from the Wartburg by the troubles caused by a new sect that had
appeared, known as the Anabaptists, whose excesses were casting great
discredit upon the whole reform movement. Luther's sudden appearance at
Wittenberg gave a temporary check to the agitation.
But in the course of two or three years the trouble broke out afresh, and
in a more complex and aggravated form. The peasants of Suabia and
Franconia, stung to madness by the oppressions of their feudal lords,
stirred by the religious excitement that filled the air, and influenced by
the incendiary preaching of their prophets Carlstadt and Muenzer, rose in
revolt against the nobles and priests. Castles and monasteries were sacked
and burned, and horrible outrages were committed. The rebellion was at
length crushed, but not until one hundred thousand lives had been
sacrificed, a large part of South Germany ravaged, and great reproach cast
upon the reformers, whose teachings were held by their enemies to be the
whole cause of the ferment.
The Reformers are called Protestants. Notwithstanding all the efforts that
were made to suppress the doctrines of Luther, they gained ground rapidly,
and in the year 1529 another assembly, known as the Second Diet of Spires,
was called to consider the matter. This body issued an edict forbidding
all persons doing anything to promote the spread of the new doctrines,
until a general council of the Church should have investigated them and
pronounced authoritatively upon them. Seven of the German princes, and a
large number of the cities of the empire, issued a formal _protest_
against the action of the Diet. Because of this protest, the reformers
from this time began to be known as _Protestants_.
CAUSES THAT CHECKED THE PROGRESS OF THE REFORMATION.--Even before the
death of Luther, [Footnote: After the death of Luther, the leadership of
the Reformation in Germany fell to Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560), one of
Luther's friends and fellow-workers. Melanchthon's disposition was exactly
the opposite of Luther's. He often reproved Luther for his indiscretion
and vehemence, and was constantly laboring to effect, through mutual
concessions, a reconciliation between the Roman Catholics and the
Protestants.] which occurred in the year 1546, the Reformation had gained
a strong foothold in most of the countries of Western Christendom, save in
Spain and Italy, and even in these parts the new doctrines had made some
progress. It seemed as if the revolt from Rome was destined to become
universal, and the old ecclesiastical empire to be completely broken up.
But several causes now conspired to check the hitherto triumphant advance
of Protestantism, and to confine the movement to the Northern nations.
Chief among these were the _divisions among the Protestants_, the
_Catholic counter-reform_, the _increased activity of the Inquisition_,
and the _rise of the Order of the Jesuits_.
DIVISIONS AMONG THE PROTESTANTS.--Early in their contest with Rome, the
Protestants became divided into numerous hostile sects. In Switzerland
arose the Zwinglians (followers of Ulrich Zwingle, 1484-1531), who
differed from the Lutherans in their views regarding the Eucharist, and on
some other points of doctrine. The Calvinists were followers of John
Calvin (1509-1564), a Frenchman by birth, who, forced to flee from France
on account of persecution, found a refuge at Geneva, of which city he
became a sort of Protestant pope. [Footnote: Calvin was, next after
Luther, the greatest of the reformers. The doctrines of Calvin came to
prevail very widely, and have exerted a most remarkable influence upon the
general course of history. "The Huguenots of France, the Covenanters of
Scotland, the Puritans of England, the Pilgrim Fathers of New England,
were all the offspring of Calvinism."]
The great Protestant communions quickly broke up into a large number of
denominations, or churches, each holding to some minor point of doctrine,
or adhering to some form of worship disregarded by the others, yet all
agreeing in the central doctrine of the Reformation, "Justification by
[Illustration: JOHN CALVIN]
Now the contentions between these different sects were sharp and bitter.
The liberal-minded reformer had occasion to lament the same state of
things as that which troubled the apostle Paul in the early days of
Christianity. One said, I am of Luther; another said, I am of Calvin; and
another said, I am of Zwingle. Even Luther himself denounced Zwingle as a
heretic; and the Calvinists would have no dealings with the Lutherans.
The influence of these sectarian divisions upon the progress of the
Reformation was most disastrous. They afforded the Catholics a strong and
effective argument against the entire movement as tending to uncertainty
THE CATHOLIC COUNTER-REFORM.--While the Protestants were thus breaking up
into numerous rival sects, the Catholics were removing the causes of
dissension within the old Church by a thorough reform in its head and
members, and by a clear and authoritative restatement of the doctrines of
the Catholic faith. This was accomplished very largely by the labors of
the celebrated Council of Trent (1545-1563). The correction of the abuses
that had so much to do in causing the great schism, smoothed the way for
the return to the ancient Church of thousands who had become alarmed at
the dangers into which society seemed to drift when once it cast loose
from anchorage in the safe harbor of tradition and authority.
THE INQUISITION.--The Roman Catholic Church having purified itself and
defined clearly its articles of faith, demanded of all a more implicit
obedience than hitherto. The Inquisition, or Holy Office (see p. 500), now
assumed new vigor and activity, and heresy was sternly dealt with. The
tribunal was assisted in the execution of its sentences by the secular
authorities in all the Romance countries, but outside of these it was not
generally recognized by the temporal princes, though it did succeed in
establishing itself for a time in the Netherlands and in some parts of
Germany. Death, usually by burning, and loss of property were the penalty
of obstinate heresy. Without doubt the Holy Office did much to check the
advance of the Reformation in Southern Europe, aiding especially in
holding Italy and Spain compactly obedient to the ancient Church.
At this point, in connection with the persecutions of the Inquisition, we
should not fail to recall that in the sixteenth century a refusal to
conform to the established worship was regarded by all, by Protestants as
well as by Catholics, as a species of treason against society, and was
dealt with accordingly. Thus we find Calvin at Geneva consenting to the
burning of Servetus (1553), because he published views that the Calvinists
thought heretical; and in England we see the Anglican Protestants waging
the most cruel, bitter, and persistent persecutions, not only against the
Catholics, but also against all Protestants that refused to conform to the
THE JESUITS.--The Order of Jesuits, or Society of Jesus, was another most
powerful agent concerned in the re-establishment of the threatened
authority of the Papal See. The founder of the institution was St.
Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a native of Spain. Loyola's object was to
form a society, the devotion and energy of whose numbers should counteract
the zeal and activity of the reformers.
[Illustration: LOYOLA. (From a medal.)]
As the well-disciplined, watchful, and uncompromising foes of the
Protestant reformers, now divided into many and often hostile sects, the
Jesuits did very much to bring about a reaction, to retrieve the failing
fortunes of the papal power in Europe, and to extend the authority and
doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church in all other parts of the world.
Most distinguished of the missionaries of the order to pagan lands was
Francis Xavier (1506-1552), known as the Apostle of the Indies. His labors
in India, Japan, and other lands of the East were attended with
OUTCOME OF THE REVOLT.--As in following chapters we are to trace the
fortunes of the Reformation in the leading European countries, we shall
here say only a word as to the issue of the great contest.
The outcome of the revolt, very broadly stated, was the separation from
the Roman Catholic Church of the Northern, or Teutonic nations; that is to
say, of Northern Germany, of portions of Switzerland and of the
Netherlands, of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, England, and Scotland. The
Romance nations, namely, Italy, France and Spain, together with Celtic
Ireland, adhered to the old Church.
What this separation from Rome meant in the political realm is well stated
by Seebohm: "It was the claiming by the civil power in each nation of
those rights which the Pope had hitherto claimed within it as head of the
great ecclesiastical empire. The clergy and monks had hitherto been
regarded more or less as foreigners--that is, as subjects of the Pope's
ecclesiastical empire. Where there was a revolt from Rome the allegiance
of these persons to the Pope was annulled, and the civil power claimed as
full a sovereignty over them as it had over its lay subjects. Matters
relating to marriage and wills still for the most part remained under
ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but then, as the ecclesiastical courts
themselves became national courts and ceased to be Roman or papal, all
these matters came under the control of the civil power."
In a spiritual or religious point of view, this severance by the Northern
nations of the bonds that formerly united them to the ecclesiastical
empire of Rome, meant a transfer of their allegiance from the
_Church_ to the _Bible_. The decrees of Popes and the decisions of
Councils were no longer to be regarded as having divine and binding force;
the Scriptures alone were to be held as possessing divine and infallible
authority, and, theoretically, this rule and standard of faith and
practice each one was to interpret for himself.
Thus one-half of Western Christendom was lost to the Roman Church. Yet
notwithstanding this loss, notwithstanding the earlier loss of the Eastern
part of Christendom (see p. 417), and notwithstanding the fact that its
temporal power has been entirely taken from it, the Papacy still remains,
as Macaulay says, "not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful
vigor." The Pope is to-day the supreme Head of a Church that, in the words
of the brilliant writer just quoted, "was great and respected before Saxon
had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when
Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch, when idols were still
worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished
vigor when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast
solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the
ruins of St. Paul's."
THE ASCENDENCY OF SPAIN.
1. REIGN OF THE EMPEROR CHARLES V. (1519-1556).
CHARLES' DOMINIONS.--Charles I. of Spain, better known to fame as Emperor
Charles V., was the son of Philip the Handsome, Archduke of Austria, and
Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. He was "the
converging point and heir of four great royal lines, which had become
united by a series of happy matrimonial alliances." These were the houses
of Austria, Burgundy, Castile, and Aragon. Before Charles had completed
his nineteenth year, there were heaped upon his head, through the removal
of his ancestors by death, the crowns of the four dynasties.
But vast as were the hereditary possessions of the young prince, there was
straightway added to these (in 1519), by the vote of the Electors of
Germany, the sovereignty of the Holy Roman Empire. After this election he
was known as _Emperor Charles V.,_ whereas hitherto he had borne the
title of _Don Carlos I._ of Spain.
CHARLES AND THE REFORMATION.--It is Charles' relations to the Lutheran
movement which constitute the significant feature of his life and work.
Here his policies and acts concerned universal history. It would hardly be
asserting too much to say that Charles, at the moment he ascended the
Imperial throne, held in his hands the fortunes of the Reformation, so far
as regards the countries of Southern Europe. Whether these were to be
saved to Rome or not, seemed at this time to depend largely upon the
attitude which Charles should assume towards the reform movement.
Fortunately for the Catholic Church, the young emperor placed himself at
the head of the Catholic party, and during his reign employed the strength
and resources of his empire in repressing the heresy of the reformers.
[Illustration: THE SPANISH KINGDOMS And Their European Dependencies under
Charles the Fifth]
HIS TWO CHIEF ENEMIES.--Had Charles been free from the outset to devote
all his energies to the work of suppressing the Lutheran heresy, it is
difficult to see what could have saved the reform doctrines within his
dominions from total extirpation. But fortunately for the cause of the
reformers, Charles' attention, during all the first part of his reign, was
drawn away from the serious consideration of Church questions, by the
attacks upon his dominions of two of the most powerful monarchs of the
times,--Francis I. (1515-1547) of France, and Solyman the Magnificent
(1520-1566), Sultan of Turkey. Whenever Charles was inclined to proceed to
severe measures against the Protestant princes of Germany, the threatening
movements of one or both of these enemies, at times acting in concert and
alliance, forced him to postpone his proposed crusade against heretics for
a campaign against foreign foes.
RIVALRY AND WARS BETWEEN CHARLES AND FRANCIS [Footnote: Table of Wars:--
First War (ended by Peace of Madrid). . 1521-1526
Second War (ended by Ladies' Peace) . . 1527-1529
Third War (ended by Truce of Nice). . . 1536-1538
Fourth War (ended by Peace of Crespy).. 1542-1544] (1521-1544).--Francis
I. was the rival of Charles in the contest for Imperial honors. When the
Electors conferred the title of emperor upon the Spanish monarch, Francis
was sorely disappointed, and during all the remainder of his reign kept up
a jealous and almost incessant warfare with Charles, whose enormous
possessions now nearly surrounded the French kingdom. Italy was the field
of much of the fighting, as the securing of dominion in that peninsula was
the chief aim of each of the rivals.
The so-called _First War_ between Francis and the emperor was full of
misfortunes for Francis. His army was driven out of Northern Italy by the
Imperial forces; his most skilful and trusted commander, the Constable of
Bourbon, turned traitor and went over to Charles, and another of his most
valiant nobles, the celebrated Chevalier Bayard, the knight _sans peur,
sans reproche_, "without fear and without reproach," was killed; while,
to crown all, Francis himself, after suffering a crushing defeat at Pavia,
in Italy, was wounded and taken prisoner. In his letter to his mother
informing her of the disaster, he is said to have laconically written,
"All is lost save honor." He was liberated by the Peace of Madrid (1526).
The most memorable incident of the _Second War_ between the king and
the emperor, was the sack of Rome by an Imperial army, made up chiefly of
Lutherans. Rome had not witnessed such scenes since the terrible days of
the Goth and Vandal.
In the _Third War_ Francis shocked all Christendom by forming an
alliance with the Turkish Sultan, who ravaged with his fleets the Italian
coasts, and sold his plunder and captives in the port of Marseilles. Thus
was a Christian city shamefully opened to the Moslems as a refuge and a
The _Fourth War_, which was the last between the rivals, left their
respective possessions substantially the same as at the beginning of the
strife, in 1521.
DISASTROUS EFFECTS OF THE WAR.--The results of these royal contentions had
been extremely calamitous. For a quarter of a century they had kept nearly
all Europe in a perfect turmoil, and by preventing alliances of the
Christian states, had been the occasion of the severe losses which
Christendom during this period suffered at the hands of the Turks. Hungary
had been ravaged with fire and sword; Rhodes had been captured from the
Knights of St. John; and all the Mediterranean shores pillaged, and
thousands of Christian captives chained to the oars of Turkish galleys.
[Footnote: The worst feature of this advance of the Sultan's authority in
the Mediterranean was the growth, under his protection, of the power of
the Algerian pirates. One of the chief strongholds of the pirates on the
African coast was Tunis, which was held by the famous Barbarossa. In the
interval between his second and third wars with Francis, Charles, with a
large army and fleet, made an assault upon this place, defeated the
corsair, and set free 20,000 Christian captives. For this brilliant and
knightly achievement, the emperor received great applause throughout
Europe. Just after his third war with Francis, the emperor made an
unsuccessful and most disastrous assault upon Algiers, another stronghold
of the corsairs.]
PERSECUTION OF THE FRENCH PROTESTANTS BY FRANCIS.--The cessation of the
wars between Francis and Charles left each free to give his attention to
his heretical subjects. And both had work enough on hand; for while the
king and the emperor had been fighting each other, the doctrines of the
reformers had been spreading rapidly in all directions and among all
The severest blow dealt by Francis against the heretics of his kingdom
fell upon the Vaudois, or Waldenses, [Footnote: So called from the founder
of the sect, Peter Waldo, or Pierre de Vaux, who lived about the beginning
of the thirteenth century.] the inhabitants of a number of hamlets in
Piedmont and Provence. Thousands were put to death by the sword, thousands
more were burned at the stake, and the land was reduced to a wilderness.
Only a miserable remnant, who found an asylum among the mountains, were
left to hand down their faith to later times.
CHARLES' WARS WITH THE PROTESTANT GERMAN PRINCES.--Charles, on his part,
turned his attention to the reformers in Germany. Inspired by religious
motives and convictions, and apprehensive, further, of the effect upon his
authority in Germany of the growth there of a confederacy of the
Protestant princes, known as the League of Schmalkald, Charles resolved to
suppress the reform movement by force. He was at first successful, but in
the end, the war proved the most disastrous and humiliating to him of any
in which he had engaged. Successive defeats of his armies forced him to
give up his undertaking to make all his German subjects think alike in
matters of religion.
THE RELIGIOUS PEACE OF AUGSBURG (1555).--In the celebrated Diet of
Augsburg, convened in 1555 to compose the distracted affairs of the German
states, it was arranged and agreed that every prince should be allowed to
choose between the Catholic religion and the Augsburg Confession,
[Footnote: The "Augsburg Confession" was the formula of belief of the
adherents of Luther. It was drawn up by the scholar Melanchthon, and laid
before the Imperial Diet assembled at Augsburg by Charles V. in 1530.] and
should have the right to make his religion the worship of his people.
This, it will be noted, was simply toleration as concerns princes or
governments. The people individually had no freedom of choice; every
subject must follow his prince, and think and believe as he thought and
believed. Of course, this was no real toleration.
Even to the article of toleration as stated above, the Diet made one
important exception. The Catholics insisted that _ecclesiastical_ princes,
_i.e._, bishops and abbots who were heads of states, on becoming
Protestants, should lose their offices and revenues; and this provision,
under the name of the _Ecclesiastical Reservation_, was finally made a
part of the treaty. This was a most fortunate article for the Catholics.
ABDICATION AND DEATH OF CHARLES.--While the Diet of Augsburg was arranging
the Religious Peace, the Emperor Charles was enacting the part of a second
Diocletian (see p. 331). There had long been forming in his mind the
purpose of spending his last days in monastic seclusion. The disappointing
issue of his contest with the Protestant princes of Germany, the weight of
advancing years, together with menacing troubles which began "to thicken
like dark clouds about the evening of his reign," now led the emperor to
carry this resolution into effect. Accordingly he abdicated in favor of
his son Philip the crown of the Netherlands (1555), and that of Spain and
its colonies (1556), and then retired to the monastery of San Yuste,
situated in a secluded region in the western part of Spain (1556).
[Illustration: EMPEROR CHARLES THE FIFTH. (After a painting by Angel
In his retreat at Yuste, Charles passed the remaining short term of his
life in participating with the monks in the exercises of religion, and in
watching the current of events without; for Charles never lost interest in
the affairs of the empire over which he had ruled, and Philip constantly
had the benefit of his father's wisdom and experience.
There is a tradition which tells how. Charles, after vainly endeavoring to
make some clocks that he had about him at Yuste run together, made the
following reflection: "How foolish I have been to think I could make all
men believe alike about religion, when here I cannot make even two clocks
keep the same time."
This story is probably mythical. Charles seems never to have doubted
either the practicability or the policy of securing uniformity of belief
by force. While in retirement at Yuste, he expressed the deepest regret
that he did not burn Luther at Worms. He was constantly urging Philip to
use greater severity in dealing with his heretical subjects, and could
scarcely restrain himself from leaving his retreat, in order to engage
personally in the work of extirpating the pestilent doctrines, which he
heard were spreading in Spain.
2. SPAIN UNDER PHILIP II. (1556-1598).
PHILIP'S DOMAINS.--With the abdication of Charles V. the Imperial crown
passed out of the Spanish line of the House of Hapsburg. [Footnote: The
Imperial crown went to Charles' brother, Ferdinand, of Austria.] Yet the
dominions of Philip were scarcely less extensive than those over which his
father had ruled. All the hereditary possessions of the Spanish crown were
of course his. Then just before his father's abdication gave him these
domains, he had become king-consort of England by marriage with Mary
Tudor. And about the middle of his reign he conquered Portugal and added
to his empire that kingdom and its rich dependencies in Africa and the
East Indies,--an acquisition which more than made good to the Spanish
crown the loss of the Imperial dignity. After this accession of territory,
Philip's sovereignty was acknowledged by more than 100,000,000 persons-
probably as large a number as was embraced within the limits of the Roman
empire at the time of its greatest extension.
But notwithstanding that Philip's dominions were so extensive, his
resources enormous, and many of the outward circumstances of his reign
striking and brilliant, there were throughout the period causes at work
which were rapidly undermining the greatness of Spain and preparing her
fall. By wasteful wars and extravagant buildings Philip managed to
dissipate the royal treasures; and by his tyrannical course in respect of
his Moorish, Jewish, and Protestant subjects, he ruined the industries of
the most flourishing of the provinces of Spain, and drove the Netherlands
into a desperate revolt, which ended in the separation of the most
valuable of those provinces from the Spanish crown.
As the most important matters of Philip's reign--namely, his war against
the revolted Netherlands, and his attempt upon England with his
"Invincible Armada"--belong more properly to the respective histories of
England and the Netherlands, and will be treated of in connection with the
affairs of those countries (see pp. 558, 564), we shall give here only a
very little space to the history of the period.
PHILIP'S WAR WITH FRANCE.--Philip took up his father's quarrel with
France. He was aided by the English, who were persuaded to this step by
their queen, Mary Tudor, now the wife of the Spanish sovereign. Fortune
favored Philip. The French were defeated in two great battles, and were
forced to agree to the terms of a treaty (Peace of Cateau-Cambr�sis, 1559)
so advantageous to Spain as to give Philip great distinction in the eyes
of all Europe.
PHILIP'S CRUSADE AGAINST THE MOORS.--It will be recalled that after the
conquest of Granada the Moors were still allowed the exercise of their
religion (see p. 499). Philip conceived it to be his duty to impose upon
them conditions that should thoroughly obliterate all traces of their
ancient faith and manners. So he issued a decree that the Moors should no
longer use their native tongue; and that they should give their children
Christian names, and send them to Christian schools. A determined revolt
followed. Philip repressed the uprising with terrible severity (1571). The
fairest provinces of Spain were almost depopulated, and large districts
relapsed into primeval wilderness.
DEFEAT OF THE TURKISH FLEET AT LEPANTO (1571).--Philip rendered an eminent
service to civilization in helping to stay the progress of the Turks in
the Mediterranean. They had captured the important island of Cyprus, and
had assaulted the Hospitallers at Malta, [Footnote: After the knights had
been driven from the island of Rhodes by the Turks (see p. 532), Charles
gave the survivors of the Order the island of Malta (1530).] which island
had been saved from falling into the hands of the infidels only by the
splendid conduct of the knights. All Christendom was becoming alarmed.
Pope Pius V. called upon the princes of Europe to rally to the defence of
the Church. An alliance was formed, embracing the Pope, the Venetians, and
Philip II. An immense fleet was equipped, and put under the command of Don
John of Austria, Philip's half-brother, a young general whose consummate
ability had been recently displayed in the crusade against the Moors.
The Christian fleet met the Turkish squadron in the Gulf of Lepanto, on
the western coast of Greece. The battle was unequalled by anything the
Mediterranean had seen since the naval encounters of the Romans and
Carthaginians in the First Punic War. More than 600 ships and 200,000 men
mingled in the struggle. The Ottoman fleet was almost totally destroyed.
Thousands of Christian captives, who were found chained to the oars of the
Turkish galleys, were liberated. All Christendom rejoiced as when
Jerusalem was captured by the first crusaders.
The battle of Lepanto holds an important place in history, because it
marks the turning-point of the long struggle between the Mohammedans and
the Christians, which had now been going on for nearly one thousand years.
The Ottoman Turks, though they afterwards made progress in some quarters,
never recovered the prestige they lost in that disaster, and their
authority and power thenceforward steadily declined. [Footnote: After the
battle of Lepanto the next most critical moment in the history of the
Turkish conquests was in 1683. In that year the Turks besieged Vienna, and
had all but secured the prize, when the city was relieved by the
distinguished Polish general Sobieski.]
THE DEATH OF PHILIP: LATER EVENTS.--In the year 1588 Philip made his
memorable attempt with the so-called "Invincible Armada" upon England, at
this time the stronghold of Protestantism. As we shall see a little later,
he failed utterly in the undertaking (see p. 558). Ten years after this he
died in the palace of the Escurial. With his death closed that splendid
era of Spanish history which began with the discovery of the New World by
Columbus. From this time forward the nation steadily declined in power,
reputation, and influence.
Thus, under Philip III. (1598-1621), a severe loss, and one from which
they never recovered, was inflicted upon the manufactures and various
other industries of Spain, by the expulsion of the Moors, or Moriscoes.
More than half a million of the most intelligent, skilful, and industrious
inhabitants of the Peninsula were driven into exile. And then in 1609, the
Protestant Netherlands, whose revolt against the tyranny of Philip II. has
been mentioned, virtually achieved their independence (see p. 570). In the
secession of these provinces the Spanish crown lost her most valuable
possessions, and she now sank rapidly to the position of a third or fourth
rate power. [Footnote: The loss of the Netherlands was followed in 1639 by
the loss of Portugal. During the latter part of the seventeenth century
Spain was involved in disastrous wars with France, and suffered a decline
of 8,000,000 in her population. After the revolt of her American colonies,
in the early part of the present century, and her cession to the United
States of Florida (in 1819), Spain was almost shorn--she still held Cuba
and a few other patches of territory scattered about the world--of those
rich and magnificent colonial possessions which had been her pride in the
time of her ascendency.]
[Illustration: EUROPE IN THE 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES.]
THE TUDORS AND THE ENGLISH REFORMATION.
THE TUDOR PERIOD.--The Tudor period [Footnote: The Tudor sovereigns were
Henry VII. (1485-1509); Henry VIII. (1509-1547); Edward VI. (1547-1553);
Mary (1553-1558); and Elizabeth (1558-1603).] in English history covers
the sixteenth century, and overlaps a little the preceding and the
following century. It was an eventful and stirring time for the English
people. It witnessed among them great progress in art, science, and trade,
and a literary outburst such as the world had not seen since the best days
of Athens. But the great event of the period was the Reformation. It was
under the Tudors that England was severed from the spiritual empire of
Rome, and Protestantism firmly established in the island. To tell how
these great results were effected will be our chief aim in the present
THE ENGLISH REFORMATION FIRST A REVOLT AND THEN A REFORM.--The Reformation
in England was, more distinctly than elsewhere, a double movement. First,
England was separated violently from the ecclesiastical empire of Rome.
All papal and priestly authority was cast off, but without any essential
change being made in creed or mode of worship. This was accomplished under
Secondly, the English Church, thus rendered independent of Rome, gradually
changed its creed and ritual. This was effected chiefly under Edward VI.
So the movement was first a _revolt_ and then a _reform_.
THE REVIVAL OF LEARNING IN ENGLAND.--The soil in England was, in a
considerable measure, prepared for the seed of the Reformation by the
labors of the Humanists (see p. 474). Three men stand preeminent as lovers
and promoters of the New Learning. Their names are Colet, Erasmus, and
Colet was leader and master of the little band. His generous enthusiasm
was kindled at Florence, in Italy. It was an important event in the
history of the Reformation when Colet crossed the Alps to learn Greek at
the feet of the Greek exiles; for on his return to England he brought back
with him not only an increased love for classical learning, but a fervent
zeal for religious reform, inspired, it would seem, by the stirring
eloquence of Savonarola (see p. 511).
Erasmus was probably superior in classical scholarship to any student of
his times. "He bought Greek books first, and clothes afterwards." His
Greek testament, published in 1516, was one of the most powerful agents
concerned in bringing about the Reformation. Indeed, his relation to the
reform movement is well indicated by the charge made against him by the
enemies of the Reformation, who declared that "Erasmus laid the egg, and
Luther hatched it."
Thomas More was drawn, or rather forced, into political life, and of him
and his writings we shall have occasion to speak hereafter, in connection
with the reign of Henry VIII. (see p. 549).
THE LOLLARDS.--Another special preparation for the entrance into England
of the Reformation was the presence among the lower classes there of a
considerable body of Lollards (see p. 491). Persecution had driven the
sect into obscurity, but had not been able to extirpate the heresy. In
holding the Scriptures as the sole rule of faith, and in the maintenance
of other doctrines denounced by the Roman Catholic Church, the Lollards
occupied a position similar to that held by the German reformers, and
consequently, when the teachings of Luther were disseminated in England,
they received them gladly.
2. THE REIGN OF HENRY VII. (1485-1509).
THE UNION OF THE ROSES.--Henry VII. and his queen united the long-disputed
titles of the two Roses [Footnote: Henry represented the claims of the
House of Lancaster, and soon after his coronation he married the Princess
Elizabeth, a daughter of Edward IV., and the representative of the claims
of the House of York.] (see p. 488); but the bitter feelings engendered by
the contentions of the rival families still existed. Particularly was
there much smothered discontent among the Yorkists, which manifested
itself in two attempts to place impostors upon the throne, both of which,
however, were unsuccessful.
BENEVOLENCES.--Avarice and a love of despotic rule were Henry's chief
faults. Much of his attention was given to heaping up a vast fortune. One
device adopted by the 'king for wringing money from his wealthy subjects
was what was euphoniously termed _Benevolences_. Magna Charta forbade
the king to impose taxes without the consent of Parliament. But Henry did
not like to convene Parliament, as he wished to rule like the kings of the
Continent, guided simply by his own free will. Furthermore, his title not
being above question, it was his policy to relieve the poorer classes of
the burden of tax-paying, in order to secure their good-will and support.
So Benevolences were made to take the place of regular taxes. These were
nothing more nor less than gifts extorted from the well-to-do, generally
by moral pressure. One of Henry's favorite ministers, named Morton, was
particularly successful in his appeals for gifts of this kind. To those
who lived splendidly he would say that it was very evident they were quite
able to make a generous donation to their sovereign; while to others who
lived in a narrow and pinched way he would represent that their economical
mode of life must have made them wealthy. This famous dilemma received the
name of "Morton's Fork."
MARITIME DISCOVERIES.--It was during this reign that great geographical
discoveries enlarged the boundaries of the world. In 1492 Columbus
announced to Europe the existence of land to the west. In 1497 Vasco da
Gama sailed around the cape of Good Hope and found a water-road to the
The same year of this last enterprise, Henry fitted out a fleet under the
command of John Cabot, a Venetian sailor doing business in England, and
his son Sebastian, for exploration in the western seas. The Cabots first
touched at Newfoundland (or Cape Breton Island), and then the following
year Sebastian explored the coast they had run against, from that point to
what is now Virginia or the Carolinas. They were the first Europeans, if
we except the Northmen, to look upon the American continent, for Columbus
at this time had seen only the islands in front of the Gulf of Mexico.
These explorations of the Cabots were of great importance for the reason
that they gave England a title to the best portion of the North American
FOREIGN MATRIMONIAL ALLIANCES.--The marriages of Henry's children must be
noted by us here, because of the great influence these alliances had upon
the after-course of English history. A common fear of France caused
Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and Henry to form a protective alliance.
To secure the permanency of the union it was deemed necessary to cement it
by a marriage bond. The Spanish Infanta was accordingly betrothed to
Arthur, Prince of Wales. Unfortunately, the prince died soon after the
celebration of the nuptials. The Spanish sovereigns, still anxious to
retain the advantages of an English alliance, now urged that the young
widow be espoused to Arthur's brother Henry, and the English king,
desirous on his side to preserve the friendship of Spain, assented to the
betrothal. A rule of the Church, however, which forbade a man to marry his
brother's widow, stood in the way of this arrangement; but the queen-
mother Isabella managed to secure a decree from the Pope granting
permission in this case, and so the young widow was betrothed to Prince
Henry, afterward Henry VIII. This alliance of the royal families of
England and Spain led to many important consequences, as we shall learn.
To relieve England of danger on her northern frontier, Henry steadily
pursued the policy of a marriage alliance with Scotland. His wishes were
realized when his eldest daughter Margaret became the wife of James IV.,
king of that realm. This was a most fortunate marriage, and finally led to
the happy union of the two countries under a single crown (see p. 601).
Henry VII. died in 1509, leaving his throne to his son Henry, an energetic
and headstrong youth of eighteen years.
3. ENGLAND SEVERED FROM THE PAPACY BY HENRY VIII. (1509-1547).
CARDINAL WOLSEY.--We must here, at the opening of Henry VIII.'s reign,
[Footnote: In 1512, joining what was known as the Holy League,--a union
against the French king, of which the Pope was the head,--Henry made his
first campaign in France. While Henry was across the Channel, James IV. of
Scotland thought to give aid to the French king by invading England. The
Scottish army was met by the English force at Flodden, beneath the Cheviot
Hills, and completely overwhelmed (1513). King James was killed, and the
flower of the Scottish nobility were left dead upon the field. It was the
most terrible disaster that had ever befallen the Scottish nation. Scott's
poem entitled _Marmion, a Tale of Flodden Field_, commemorates the
battle.] introduce his greatest minister, Thomas Wolsey (1471-1530). This
man was one of the most remarkable characters of his generation. Henry
VIII. elevated him to the office of Archbishop of York, and made him lord
chancellor of the realm. The Pope, courting the minister's influence, made
him a cardinal, and afterwards papal legate in England. He was now at the
head of affairs in both State and Church. His revenues from his many
offices were enormous, and enabled him to assume a style of living
astonishingly magnificent. His household numbered five hundred persons;
and a truly royal train, made up of bishops and nobles, attended him with
great pomp and parade wherever he went.
HENRY AS DEFENDER OF THE FAITH.--It was early in the reign of Henry VIII.
that Martin Luther tacked upon the door of the Wittenberg church his
epoch-making theses. England was stirred with the rest of Western
Christendom. Henry wrote a Latin treatise replying to the articles of the
audacious monk. The Pope, Leo X., rewarded Henry's Catholic zeal by
conferring upon him the title of "Defender of the Faith" (1521). This
title was retained by Henry after the secession of the Church of England
from the Papal See, and is borne by his successors at this day, though
they are "defenders" of quite a different faith from that in the defence
of which Henry first earned the title.
[Illustration: HENRY VIII. OF ENGLAND. (After a painting by Carl Piloty.)]
HENRY SEEKS TO BE DIVORCED FROM CATHERINE.--We have now to relate some
circumstances which changed Henry from a zealous supporter of the Papacy
into its bitterest enemy.
Henry's marriage with Catherine of Aragon had been prompted by policy and
not by love. Of the five children born of the union, all had died save a
sickly daughter named Mary. In these successive afflictions which left him
without a son to succeed him, Henry saw, or feigned to see, a certain sign
of Heaven's displeasure because he had taken to wife the widow of his
And now a new circumstance arose,--if it had not existed for some time
previous to this. Henry conceived a violent passion for Anne Boleyn, a
beautiful and vivacious maid of honor in the queen's household. This new
affection so quickened the king's conscience, that he soon became fully
convinced that it was his duty to put Catherine aside. [Footnote:
Political considerations, without doubt, had much if not most to do in
bringing Henry to this state of mind. He was ready to divorce Catherine
and openly break with Spain, because the Emperor Charles V., to whom he
had offered the hand of the Princess Mary, had married the Infanta of
Portugal, and thus cast aside the English alliance. On this point consult
Seebohm, _The Era of the Protestant Revolution_, pp. 178-180.]
Accordingly, Henry asked the Pope, Clement VII., to grant him a divorce.
The request placed Clement in a very embarrassing position; for if he
refused to grant it, he would offend Henry; and if he granted it, he would
offend Charles V., who was Catherine's relative. So Clement in his
bewilderment was led to temporize, to make promises to Henry and then
evade them. At last, after a year's delay, he appointed Cardinal Wolsey
and an Italian cardinal named Campeggio as commissioners to hold a sort of
court in England to determine the validity of Henry's marriage to
Catherine. A year or more dragged along without anything being
accomplished, and then Clement, influenced by the Emperor Charles, ordered
Henry and Catherine both to appear before him at Rome. (Respecting appeals
to Rome, see p. 418).
THE FALL OF WOLSEY.--Henry's patience was now completely exhausted.
Becoming persuaded that Wolsey was not exerting himself as he might to
secure the divorce, he banished him from the court. The hatred of Anne
Boleyn and of others pursued the fallen minister. He was deposed from all
his offices save the archbishopric, and eventually was arrested on the
charge of high treason. While on his way to London the unhappy minister,
broken in spirits and health, was prostrated by a fatal fever. As he lay
dying, he uttered these words, which have lived so long after him: "Had I
served my God as diligently as I have served my king, He would not have
given me over in my gray hairs" (1530).
THOMAS CROMWELL.--A man of great power and mark now rises to our notice.
Upon the disgrace of Wolsey, a faithful attendant of his named Thomas
Cromwell straightway assumed in Henry's regard the place from which the
Cardinal had fallen. He was just the opposite of Wolsey in caring nothing
for pomp and parade. For the space of ten years this wonderful man shaped
the policy of Henry's government. What he proposed to himself was the
establishment of a royal despotism upon the ruin of every other power in
the State. The executioner's axe was constantly wet with the blood of
those who stood in his way, or who in any manner incurred his displeasure.
It was to the bold suggestions of this man that Henry now listened, when
all other means of gratifying his passion had been tried in vain.
Cromwell's advice to the king was to waste no more time in negotiating
with the Pope, but at once to renounce the jurisdiction of the Roman
pontiff, proclaim himself Supreme Head of the Church in England, and then
get a decree of divorce from his own courts.
THE BREACH WITH ROME.--The advice of Cromwell was acted upon, and by a
series of steps England was swiftly and forever carried out from under the
authority of the Roman See. Henry first virtually cut the Gordian knot by
a secret marriage with Anne Boleyn, notwithstanding a papal decree
threatening him with excommunication should he dare to do so. Parliament,
which was entirely subservient to Henry's wishes, now passed a law known
as the Statute of Appeals, which made it a crime for any Englishman to
carry a case out of the kingdom to the courts at Rome. Cranmer, a
Cambridge doctor who had served Henry by writing a book in favor of the
divorce, was, in accordance with the new programme, made archbishop of
Canterbury. He at once formed a court, tried the case, and of course
declared the king's marriage with Catherine null and void from the very
first, and his union with Anne legal and right.
THE ACT OF SUPREMACY (1534).--The decisive step had now been taken: the
Rubicon had been crossed. The Pope issued a decree excommunicating Henry
and relieving his subjects from their allegiance. Henry on his part called
Parliament, and a celebrated bill known as the Act of Supremacy was passed
(1534). This statute made Henry the Supreme Head of the Church in England,
vesting in him absolute control over all its offices, and turning into his
hands the revenues which had hitherto flowed into the coffers of the Roman
See. A denial of the title given the king by the statute was made high
treason. This statute laid the foundations of the Anglican Church.
HENRY AS SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH.--Henry now set up in England a little
Popedom of his own. He drew up a sort of creed which everybody must
believe, or at least pretend to believe. The doctrines of purgatory, of
indulgences, of masses for the dead, of pilgrimages, of the adoration of
images and relics, were condemned; but the doctrines of transubstantiation
and of confession to a priest were retained. Every head of a family and
every teacher was commanded to teach his children or pupils the Lord's