Prepared by D.R. Thompson
Carlyle’s “History of Friedrich II of Prussia”
THE HOHENZOLLERNS IN BRANDENBURG.
KURFURST FRIEDRICH I.
Burggraf Friedrich, on his first coming to Brandenburg, found but a cool reception as Statthalter. [
i. 167-169.] He came as the representative of law and rule; and there had been many helping themselves by a ruleless life, of late. Industry was at a low ebb, violence was rife; plunder, disorder everywhere; too much the habit for baronial gentlemen to “live by the saddle,” as they termed it, that is by highway robbery in modern phrase.
The Towns, harried and plundered to skin and bone, were glad to see a Statthalter, and did homage to him with all their heart. But the Baronage or Squirearchy of the country were of another mind. These, in the late anarchies, had set up for a kind of kings in their own right: they had their feuds; made war, made peace, levied tolls, transit-dues; lived much at their own discretion in these solitary countries;–rushing out from their stone towers (“walls fourteen feet thick”), to seize any herd of “six hundred swine,” any convoy of Lubeck or Hamburg merchant-goods, that had not contented them in passing. What were pedlers and mechanic fellows made for, if not to be plundered when needful? Arbitrary rule, on the part of these Noble Robber-Lords! And then much of the Crown-Domains had gone to the chief of them,–pawned (and the pawn-ticket lost, so to speak), or sold for what trifle of ready money was to be had, in Jobst and Company’s time. To these gentlemen, a Statthalter coming to inquire into matters was no welcome phenomenon. Your EDLE HERR (Noble Lord) of Putlitz, Noble Lords of Quitzow, Rochow, Maltitz and others, supreme in their grassy solitudes this long while, and accustomed to nothing greater than themselves in Brandenburg, how should they obey a Statthalter?
Such was more or less the universal humor in the Squirearchy of Brandenburg; not of good omen to Burggraf Friedrich. But the chief seat of contumacy seemed to be among the Quitzows, Putlitzes, above spoken of; big Squires in the district they call the Priegnitz, in the Country of the sluggish Havel River, northwest from Berlin a fifty or forty miles. These refused homage, very many of them; said they were “incorporated with Bohmen;” said this and that;–much disinclined to homage; and would not do it. Stiff surly fellows, much deficient in discernment of what is above them and what is not:–a thick-skinned set; bodies clad in buff leather; minds also cased in ill habits of long continuance.
Friedrich was very patient with them; hoped to prevail by gentle methods. He “invited them to dinner;” “had them often at dinner for a year or more:” but could make no progress in that way. “Who is this we have got for a Governor?” said the noble lords privately to each other: “A NURNBERGER TAND (Nurnberg Plaything,– wooden image, such as they make at Nurnberg),” said they, grinning, in a thick-skinned way: “If it rained Burggraves all the year round, none of them would come to luck in this Country;”–and continued their feuds, toll-levyings, plunderings and other contumacies. Seeing matters come to this pass after waiting above a year, Burggraf Friedrich gathered his Frankish men-at-arms; quietly made league with the neighboring Potentates, Thuringen and others; got some munitions, some artillery together–especially one huge gun, the biggest ever seen, “a twenty-four pounder” no less; to which the peasants, dragging her with difficulty through the clayey roads, gave the name of FAULE GRETE (Lazy, or Heavy Peg); a remarkable piece of ordnance. Lazy Peg he had got from the Landgraf of Thuringen, on loan merely; but he turned her to excellent account of his own. I have often inquired after Lazy Peg’s fate in subsequent times; but could never learn anything distinct:–the German Dryasdust is a dull dog, and seldom carries anything human in those big wallets of his!–
Equipped in this way, Burggraf Friedrich (he was not yet Kurfurst, only coming to be) marches for the Havel Country (early days of 1414); [Michaelis, i. 287; Stenzel, i. 168 (where, contrary to wont, is an insignificant error or two). Pauli (ii. 58) is, as usual, lost in water.] makes his appearance before Quitzow’s strong-house of Friesack, walls fourteen feet thick: “You Dietrich von Quitzow, are you prepared to live as a peaceable subject henceforth: to do homage to the Laws and me?”–“Never!” answered Quitzow, and pulled up his drawbridge. Whereupon Heavy Peg opened upon him, Heavy Peg and other guns; and, in some eight-and-forty hours, shook Quitzow’s impregnable Friesack about his ears. This was in the month of February, 1414, day not given: Friesack was the name of the impregnable Castle (still discoverable in our time); and it ought to be memorable and venerable to every Prussian man. Burggraf Friedrich VI., not yet quite become Kurfurst Friedrich I., but in a year’s space to become so, he in person was the beneficent operator; Heavy Peg, and steady Human Insight, these were clearly the chief implements.
Quitzow being settled,–for the country is in military occupation of Friedrich and his allies, and except in some stone castle a man has no chance,–straightway Putlitz or another mutineer, with his drawbridge up, was battered to pieces, and his drawbridge brought slamming down. After this manner, in an incredibly short period, mutiny was quenched; and it became apparent to Noble Lords, and to all men, that here at length was a man come who would have the Laws obeyed again, and could and would keep mutiny down.
Friedrich showed no cruelty; far the contrary. Your mutiny once ended, and a little repented of, he is ready to be your gracious Prince again: Fair-play and the social wine-cup, or inexorable war and Lazy Peg, it is at your discretion which. Brandenburg submitted; hardly ever rebelled more. Brandenburg, under the wise Kurfurst it has got, begins in a small degree to be cosmic again, or of the domain of the gods; ceases to be chaotic and a mere cockpit of the devils. There is no doubt but this Friedrich also, like his ancestor Friedrich III., the First Hereditary Burggraf, was an excellent citizen of his country: a man conspicuously important in all German business in his time. A man setting up for no particular magnanimity, ability or heroism, but unconsciously exhibiting a good deal; which by degrees gained universal recognition. He did not shine much as Reichs-Generalissimo, under Kaiser Sigismund, in his expeditions against Zisca; on the contrary, he presided over huge defeat and rout, once and again, in that capacity; and indeed had represented in vain that, with such a species of militia, victory was impossible. He represented and again represented, to no purpose; whereupon he declined the office farther; in which others fared no better. [Hormayr,
The offer to be Kaiser was made him in his old days; but he wisely declined that too. It was in Brandenburg, by what he silently founded there, that he did his chief benefit to Germany and mankind. He understood the noble art of governing men; had in him the justice, clearness, valor and patience needed for that. A man of sterling probity, for one thing. Which indeed is the first requisite in said art:–if you will have your laws obeyed without mutiny, see well that they be pieces of God Almighty’s Law: otherwise all the artillery in the world will not keep down mutiny.
Friedrich “travelled much over Brandenburg;” looking into everything with his own eyes;–making, I can well fancy, innumerable crooked things straight. Reducing more and more that famishing dog-kennel of a Brandenburg into a fruitful arable field. His portraits represent a square headed, mild-looking solid gentleman, with a certain twinkle of mirth in the serious eyes of him. Except in those Hussite wars for Kaiser Sigismund and the Reich, in which no man could prosper, he may be defined as constantly prosperous. To Brandenburg he was, very literally, the blessing of blessings; redemption out of death into life. In the ruins of that old Friesack Castle, battered down by Heavy Peg, Antiquarian Science (if it had any eyes) might look for the tap-root of the Prussian Nation, and the beginning of all that Brandenburg has since grown to under the sun.
Friedrich, in one capacity or another, presided over Brandenburg near thirty years. He came thither first of all in 1412; was not completely Kurfurst in his own right till 1415; nor publicly installed, “with 100,000 looking on from the roofs and windows,” in Constance yonder, till 1417,–age then some forty-five. His Brandenburg residence, when he happened to have time for residing or sitting still, was Tangermunde, the Castle built by Kaiser Karl IV. He died there, 21st September, 1440; laden tolerably with years, and still better with memories of hard work done. Rentsch guesses by good inference he was born about 1372. As I count, he is seventh in descent from that Conrad, Burggraf Conrad I., Cadet of Hohenzollern, who came down from the Rauhe Alp, seeking service with Kaiser Redbeard, above two centuries ago: Conrad’s generation and six others had vanished successively from the world-theatre in that ever-mysterious manner, and left the stage clear, when Burggraf Friedrich the Sixth came to be First Elector. Let three centuries, let twelve generations farther come and pass, and there will be another still more notable Friedrich,–our little Fritz, destined to be Third King of Prussia, officially named Friedrich II., and popularly Frederick the Great. This First Elector is his lineal ancestor, twelve times removed. [Rentsch, pp. 349-372; Hubner, t. 176.]
MATINEES DU ROI DE PRUSSE.
Eleven successive Kurfursts followed Friedrich in Brandenburg. Of whom and their births, deaths, wars, marriages, negotiations and continual multitudinous stream of smaller or greater adventures, much has been written, of a dreary confused nature; next to nothing of which ought to be repeated here. Some list of their Names, with what rememberable human feature or event (if any) still speaks to us in them, we must try to give. Their Names, well dated, with any actions, incidents, or phases of life, which may in this way get to adhere to them in the reader’s memory, the reader can insert, each at its right place, in the grand Tide of European Events, or in such Picture as the reader may have of that. Thereby with diligence he may produce for himself some faint twilight notion of the Flight of Time in remote Brandenburg,– convince himself that remote Brandenburg was present all along, alive after its sort, and assisting, dumbly or otherwise, in the great World-Drama as that went on.
We have to say in general, the history of Brandenburg under the Hohenzollerns has very little in it to excite a vulgar curiosity, though perhaps a great deal to interest an intelligent one. Had it found treatment duly intelligent;–which, however, how could it, lucky beyond its neighbors, hope to do! Commonplace Dryasdust, and voluminous Stupidity, not worse here than elsewhere, play their Part.
It is the history of a State, or Social Vitality, growing from small to great; steadily growing henceforth under guidance: and the contrast between guidance and no-guidance, or mis- guidance, in such matters, is again impressively illustrated there. This we see well to be the fact; and the details of this would be of moment, were they given us: but they are not;–how could voluminous Dryasdust give them? Then, on the other hand, the Phenomenon is, for a long while, on so small a scale, wholly without importance in European politics and affairs, the commonplace Historian, writing of it on a large scale, becomes unreadable and intolerable. Witness grandiloquent Pauli our fatal friend, with his Eight watery Quartos; which gods and men, unless driven by necessity, have learned to avoid! [Dr. Carl Friedrich Pauli,
On one other point I must give the reader warning. A rock of offence on which if he heedlessly strike, I reckon he will split; at least no help of mine can benefit him till he be got off again. Alas, offences must come; and must stand, like rocks of offence, to the shipwreck of many! Modern Dryasdust, interpreting the mysterious ways of Divine Providence in this Universe, or what he calls writing History, has done uncountable havoc upon the best interests of mankind. Hapless godless dullard that he is; driven and driving on courses that lead only downward, for him as for us! But one could forgive him all things, compared with this doctrine of devils which he has contrived to get established, pretty generally, among his unfortunate fellow-creatures for the time!–I must insert the following quotation, readers guess from what author:–
“In an impudent Pamphlet, forged by I know not whom, and published in 1766, under the title of
of Hohenzollern, ever since the first origin of it among the Swabian mountains, or its first descent therefrom into the Castle and Imperial Wardenship of Nurnberg, some six hundred years ago or more, has consistently travelled one road, and this a very notable one. ‘We, as I myself the royal Frederick still do, have all along proceeded,’ namely, ‘in the way of adroit Machiavelism, as skilful gamblers in this world’s business, ardent gatherers of this world’s goods; and in brief as devout worshippers of Beelzebub, the grand regulator and rewarder of mortals here below. Which creed we, the Hohenzollerns, have found, and I still find, to be the true one; learn it you, my prudent Nephew, and let all men learn it. By holding steadily to that, and working late and early in such spirit, we are come to what you now see;–and shall advance still farther, if it please Beelzebub, who is generally kind to those that serve him well.’ Such is the doctrine of this impudent Pamphlet; ‘original Manuscripts’ of which are still purchased by simple persons,–who have then nobly offered them to me, thrice over, gratis or nearly so, as a priceless curiosity. A new printed edition of which, probably the fifth, has appeared within few years. Simple persons, consider it a curious and interesting Document; rather ambiguous in origin perhaps, but probably authentic in substance, and throwing unexpected light on the character of Frederick whom men call the Great. In which new light they are willing a meritorious Editor should share.
“Who wrote that Pamphlet I know not, and am in no condition to guess. A certain snappish vivacity (very unlike the style of Frederick whom it personates); a wearisome grimacing, gesticulating malice and smartness, approaching or reaching the sad dignity of what is called ‘wit’ in modern times; in general the rottenness of matter, and the epigrammatic unquiet graciosity of manner in this thing, and its elaborately INhuman turn both of expression and of thought, are visible characteristics of it. Thought, we said,–if thought it can be called: thought all hamstrung, shrivelled by inveterate rheumatism, on the part of the poor ill-thriven thinker; nay tied (so to speak, for he is of epigrammatic turn withal), as by cross ropes, right shoulder to left foot; and forced to advance, hobbling and jerking along, in that sad guise: not in the way of walk, but of saltation and dance; and this towards a false not a true aim, rather no-whither than some-whither:–Here were features leading one to think of an illustrious Prince de Ligne as perhaps concerned in the affair. The Bibliographical Dictionaries, producing no evidence, name quite another person, or series of persons, [A certain “N. de Bonneville” (afterwards a Revolutionary spiritual-mountebank, for some time) is now the favorite Name;–proves, on investigation, to be an impossible one. Barbier
“As to the theory, I must needs say, nothing can be falser, more heretical or more damnable. My own poor opinion, and deep conviction on that subject is well known, this long while. And, in fact, the summary of all I have believed, and have been trying as I could to teach mankind to believe again, is even that same opinion and conviction, applied to all provinces of things. Alas, in this his sad theory about the world, our poor impudent Pamphleteer is by no means singular at present; nay rather he has in a manner the whole practical part of mankind on his side just now; the more is the pity for us all!–
“It is very certain, if Beelzebub made this world, our Pamphleteer, and the huge portion of mankind that follow him, are right. But if God made the world; and only leads Beelzebub, as some ugly muzzled bear is led, a longer or shorter temporary DANCE in this divine world, and always draws him home again, and peels the unjust gains off him, and ducks him in a certain hot Lake, with sure intent to lodge him there to all eternity at last,–then our Pamphleteer, and the huge portion of mankind that follow him, are wrong.
“More I will not say; being indeed quite tired of SPEAKING on that subject. Not a subject which it concerns me to speak of; much as it concerns me, and all men, to know the truth of it, and silently in every hour and moment to do said truth. As indeed the sacred voice of their own soul, if they listen, will conclusively admonish all men; and truly if IT do not, there will be little use in my logic to them. For my own share, I want no trade with men who need to be convinced of that fact. If I am in their premises, and discover such a thing of them, I will quit their premises; if they are in mine, I will, as old Samuel advised, count my spoons. Ingenious gentlemen who believe that Beelzebub made this world, are not a class of gentlemen I can get profit from. Let them keep at a distance, lest mischief fall out between us. They are of the set deserving to be called–and this not in the way of profane swearing, but of solemn wrath and pity, I say of virtuous anger and inexorable reprobation–the damned set. For, in very deed, they are doomed and damned, by Nature’s oldest Act of Parliament, they, and whatsoever thing they do or say or think; unless they can escape from that devil-element. Which I still hope they may!–
“But with regard to the facts themselves, ‘DE NOTRE MAISON,’ I take leave to say, they too are without basis of truth. They are not so false as the theory, because nothing can in falsity quite equal that. ‘NOTRE MAISON,’ this Pamphleteer may learn, if he please to make study and inquiry before speaking, did not rise by worship of Beelzebub at all in this world; but by a quite opposite line of conduct. It rose, in fact, by the course which all, except fools, stockjobber stags, cheating gamblers, forging Pamphleteers and other temporary creatures of the damned sort, have found from of old to be the one way of permanently rising: by steady service, namely, of the Opposite of Beelzebub. By conforming to the Laws of this Universe; instead of trying by pettifogging to evade and profitably contradict them. The Hohenzollerns too have a History still articulate to the human mind, if you search sufficiently; and this is what, even with some emphasis, it will teach us concerning their adventures, and achievements of success in the field of life. Resist the Devil, good reader, and he will flee from you!”–So ends our indignant friend.
How the Hohenzollerns got their big Territories, and came to what they are in the world, will be seen. Probably they were not, any of them, paragons of virtue. They did not walk in altogether speckless Sunday pumps, or much clear-starched into consciousness of the moral sublime; but in rugged practical boots, and by such roads as there were. Concerning their moralities, and conformities to the Laws of the Road and of the Universe, there will much remain to be argued by pamphleteers and others. Men will have their opinion, Men of more wisdom and of less; Apes by the Dead-Sea also will have theirs. But what man that believed in such a Universe as that of this Dead-Sea Pamphleteer could consent to live in it at all? Who that believed in such a Universe, and did not design to live like a Papin’s-Digester, or PORCUS EPICURI, in an extremely ugly manner in it, could avoid one of two things: Going rapidly into Bedlam, or else blowing his brains out? “It will not do for me at any rate, this infinite Dog-house; not for me, ye Dryasdusts, and omnipotent Dog-monsters and Mud-gods, whoever you are. One honorable thing I can do: take leave of you and your Dog-establishment. Enough!”–
KURFURST FRIEDRICH II.
The First Friedrich’s successor was a younger son, Friedrich II.; who lasted till 1471, above thirty years; and proved likewise a notable manager and governor. Very capable to assert himself, and his just rights, in this world. He was but Twenty-seven at his accession; but the Berlin Burghers, attempting to take some liberties with him, found he was old enough. He got the name IRONTEETH. Friedrich FERRATIS DENTIBUS, from his decisive ways then and afterwards. He had his share of brabbling with intricate litigant neighbors; quarrels now and then not to be settled without strokes. His worst war was with Pommern,–just claims disputed there, and much confused bickering, sieging and harassing in consequence: of which quarrel we must speak anon. It was he who first built the conspicuous Schloss or Palace at Berlin, having got the ground for it (same ground still covered by the actual fine Edifice, which is a second edition of Friedrich’s) from the repentant Burghers; and took up his chief residence there. [1442-1431 (Nicolari, i. 81).]
But his principal achievement in Brandenburg History is his recovery of the Province called the Neumark to that Electorate. In the thriftless Sigismund times, the Neumark had been pledged, had been sold; Teutsch Ritterdom, to whose dominions it lay contiguous, had purchased it with money down. The Teutsch Ritters were fallen moneyless enough since then; they offered to pledge the Neumark to Friedrich, who accepted, and advanced the sum: after a while the Teutsch Ritters, for a small farther sum, agreed to sell Neumark. [Michaelis, i. 301.] Into which Transaction, with its dates and circumstances, let us cast one glance, for our behoof afterwards. The Teutsch Ritters were an opulent domineering Body in Sigismund’s early time; but they are now come well down in Friedrich II.’s! And are coming ever lower. Sinking steadily, or with desperate attempts to rise, which only increase the speed downwards, ever since that fatal Tannenberg Business, 15th July, 1410. Here is the sad progress of their descent to the bottom; divided into three stages or periods:–
“PERIOD FIRST is of Thirty years: 1410-1440. A peace with Poland soon followed that Defeat of Tannenberg; humiliating peace, with mulct in money, and slightly in territory, attached to it. Which again was soon followed by war, and ever again; each new peace more humiliating than its foregoer. Teutsch Order is steadily sinking,–into debt, among other things; driven to severe finance-measures (ultimately even to ‘debase its coin’), which produce irritation enough. Poland is gradually edging itself into the territories and the interior troubles of Preussen; prefatory to greater operations that lie ahead there.
“SECOND PERIOD, of Fourteen years. So it had gone on, from bad to worse, till 1440; when the general population, through its Heads, the Landed Gentry and the Towns, wearied out with fiscal and other oppressions from its domineering Ritterdom brought now to such a pinch, began everywhere to stir themselves into vocal complaint. Complaint emphatic enough: ‘Where will you find a man that has not suffered injury in his rights, perhaps in his person? Our friends they have invited as guests, and under show of hospitality have murdered them. Men, for the sake of their beautiful wives, have been thrown into the river like dogs,’–and enough of the like sort. [Voigt, vii. 747; quoting evidently, not an express manifesto, but one manufactured by the old Chroniclers.] No want of complaint, nor of complainants: Town of Thorn, Town of Dantzig, Kulm, all manner of Towns and Baronages, proceeded now to form a BUND, or general Covenant for complaining; to repugn, in hotter and hotter form, against a domineering Ritterdom with back so broken; in fine, to colleague with Poland,–what was most ominous of all. Baronage, Burgherage, they were German mostly by blood, and by culture were wholly German; but preferred Poland to a Teutsch Ritterdom of that nature. Nothing but brabblings, scufflings, objurgations; a great outbreak ripening itself. Teutsch Ritterdom has to hire soldiers; no money to pay them. It was in these sad years that the Teutsch Ritterdom, fallen moneyless, offered to pledge the Neumark to our Kurfurst; 1444, that operation was consummated. [Pauli, ii. 187,–does not name the sum.] All this goes on, in hotter and hotter form, for ten years longer.
“PERIOD THIRD begins, early in 1454, with an important special catastrophe; and ends, in the Thirteenth year after, with a still more important universal one of the same nature. Prussian BUND, or Anti-Oppression Covenant of the Towns and Landed Gentry, rising in temperature for fourteen years at this rate, reached at last the igniting point, and burst into fire. February 4th, 1454, the Town of Thorn, darling first-child of Teutsch Ritterdom,–child 223 years old at this time, [“Founded 1231, as a wooden Burg, just across the river, on the Heathen side, mainly round the stem of an immense old Oak that grew handy there,–Seven Barges always on the river (Weichsel), to fly to our own side if quite overwhelmed”
Arms of Thorn. See Kohler,
1326.] and grown very big, and now very angry,–suddenly took its old parent by the throat, so to speak, and hurled him out to the dogs; to the extraneous Polacks first of all. Town of Thorn, namely, sent that day its ‘Letter of Renunciation’ to the Hochmeister over at Marienburg; seized in a day or two more the Hochmeister’s Official Envoys, Dignitaries of the Order; led them through the streets, amid universal storm of execrations, hootings and unclean projectiles, straight, to jail; and besieged the Hochmeister’s Burg (BASTILLE of Thorn, with a few Ritters in it), all the artillery and all the throats and hearts of the place raging deliriously upon it. So that the poor Bitters, who had no chance in resisting, were in few days obliged to surrender; [8th February, 1454, says Voigt (viii. 361); 16th, says Kohler
“War hereupon, which blazed up over Preussen at large,–Prussian Covenant and King of Poland VERSUS Teutsch Ritterdom,–and lasted into the thirteenth year, before it could go out again; out by lack of fuel mainly. One of the fellest wars on record, especially for burning and ruining; above ‘300,000 fighting-men’ are calculated to have perished in it; and of towns, villages, farmsteads, a cipher which makes the fancy, as it were, black and ashy altogether. Ritterdom showed no lack of fighting energy; but that could not save it, in the pass things were got to. Enormous lack of wisdom, of reality and human veracity, there had long been; and the hour was now come. Finance went out, to the last coin. Large mercenary armies all along; and in the end not the color of money to pay them with; mercenaries became desperate; ‘besieged the Hochmeister and his Ritters in Marienburg;’–finally sold the Country they held; formally made it over to the King of Poland, to get their pay out of it. Hochmeister had to see such things, and say little. Peace, or extinction for want of fuel, came in the year 1466. Poland got to itself the whole of that fine German Country, henceforth called ‘WEST Preussen’ to distinguish it, which goes from the left bank of the Weichsel to the borders of Brandenburg and Neumark;–would have got Neumark too, had not Kurfurst Friedrich been there to save it. The Teutsch Order had to go across the Weichsel, ignominiously driven; to content itself with ‘EAST Preussen,’ the Konigsberg-Memel country, and even to do homage to Poland for that. Which latter was the bitterest clause of all: but it could not be helped, more than the others. In this manner did its revolted children fling out Teutsch Ritterdom ignominiously to the dogs, to the Polacks, first of all,–Thorn, the eldest child, leading off or setting the example.”
And so the Teutsch Ritters are sunk beyond retrieval; and West Preussen, called subsequently “Royal Preussen,” NOT having homage to pay as the “Ducal” or East Preussen had, is German no longer, but Polish, Sclavic; not prospering by the change. [What Thorn had sunk to, out of its palmy state, see in Nanke’s
Wanderungen durch Preussen
It was in the second year of that final tribulation, marked above as Period Third, that the Teutsch Ritters, famishing for money, completed the Neumark transaction with Kurfurst Friedrich; Neumark, already pawned to him ten years before, they in 1455, for a small farther sum, agreed to sell; and he, long carefully steering towards such an issue, and dexterously keeping out of the main broil, failed not to buy. Friedrich could thenceforth, on his own score, protect the Neumark; keep up an invisible but impenetrable wall between it and the neighboring anarchic conflagrations of thirteen years; and the Neumark has ever since remained with Brandenburg, its original owner.
As to Friedrich’s Pomeranian quarrel, this is the figure of it. Here is a scene from Rentsch, which falls out in Friedrich’s time; and which brought much battling and broiling to him and his. Symbolical withal of much that befell in Brandenburg, from first to last. Under the Hohenzollerns as before, Brandenburg grew by aggregation, by assimilation; and we see here how difficult the process often was.
Pommern (POMERANIA), long Wendish, but peaceably so since the time of Albert the Bear, and growing ever more German, had, in good part, according to Friedrich’s notion, if there were force in human Treaties and Imperial Laws, fallen fairly to Brandenburg,– that is to say, the half of it, Stettin-Pommern had fairly fallen,–in the year 1464, when Duke Otto of Stettin, the last Wendish Duke, died without heirs. In that case by many bargains, some with bloody crowns, it had been settled, If the Wendish Dukes died out, the country was to fall to Brandenburg;–and here they were dead. “At Duke Otto’s burial, accordingly, in the High Church of Stettin, when the coffin was lowered into its place, the Stettin Burgermeister, Albrecht Glinde, took sword and helmet, and threw the same into the grave, in token that the Line was extinct. But Franz von Eichsted,” apparently another Burgher instructed for the nonce, “jumped into the grave, and picked them out again; alleging, No, the Dukes of WOLGAST-Pommern were of kin; these tokens we must send to his Grace at Wolgast, with offer of our homage, said Franz von Eichsted.” [Rentsch, p. 110 (whose printer has put his date awry); Stenzel (i. 233) calls the man “LORENZ Eikstetten, a resolute Gentleman.”]–And sent they were, and accepted by his Grace. And perhaps half-a-score of bargains, with bloody crowns to some of them; and yet other chances, and centuries, with the extinction of new Lines,–had to supervene, before even Stettin-Pommern, and that in no complete state, could be got. [1648, by Treaty of Westphalia.] As to Pommern at large, Pommern not denied to be due, after such extinction and re-extinction of native Ducal Lines, did not fall home for centuries more; and what struggles and inextricable armed- litigations there were for it, readers of Brandenburg-History too wearisomely know. The process of assimilation not the least of an easy one!–
This Friedrich was second son: his Father’s outlook for him had, at first, been towards a Polish Princess and the crown of Poland, which was not then so elective as afterwards: and with such view his early breeding had been chiefly in Poland; Johann, the eldest son and heir-apparent, helping his Father at home in the mean while. But these Polish outlooks went to nothing, the young Princess having died; so that Friedrich came home; possessed merely of the Polish language, and of what talents the gods had given him, which were considerable. And now, in the mean while, Johann, who at one time promised well in practical life, had taken to Alchemy; and was busy with crucibles and speculations, to a degree that seemed questionable. Father Friedrich, therefore, had to interfere, and deal with this “Johann the Alchemist” (JOHANNES ALCHEMISTA, so the Books still name him); who loyally renounced the Electorship, at his Father’s bidding, in favor of Friedrich; accepted Baireuth (better half of the Culmbach Territory) for apanage; and there peacefully distilled and sublimated at discretion; the government there being an easier task, and fitter for a soft speculative Herr. A third Brother, Albert by name, got Anspach, on the Father’s decease; very capable to do any fighting there might be occasion for, in Culmbach.
As to the Burggrafship, it was now done, all but the Title. The First Friedrich, once he was got to be Elector, wisely parted with it. The First Friedrich found his Electorship had dreadfully real duties for him, and that this of the Burggrafship had fallen mostly obsolete; so he sold it to the Nurnbergers for a round sum: only the Principalities and Territories are retained in that quarter. About which too, and their feudal duties, boundaries and tolls, with a jealous litigious Nurnberg for neighbor, there at length came quarrelling enough. But Albert the third Brother, over at Anspach, took charge of all that; and nothing of it fell in Johann’s way.
The good Alchemist died,–performed his last sublimation, poor man,–six or seven years before his Brother Friedrich; age then sixty-three. [14th November, 1464.] Friedrich, with his Iron Teeth and faculties, only held out till fifty-eight,–10th February, 1471. The manner of his end was peculiar. In that War with Pommern, he sat besieging a Pomeranian town, Uckermunde the name of it: when at dinner one day, a cannon-ball plunged down upon the table, [Michaelis, i. 303.] with such a crash as we can fancy;– which greatly confused the nerves of Friedrich; much injured his hearing, and even his memory thenceforth. In a few months afterwards he resigned, in favor of his Successor; retired to Plassenburg, and there died in about a year more.
KURFURST ALBERT ACHILLES, AND HIS SUCCESSOR.
Neither Friedrich nor Johann left other than daughters: so that the united Heritage, Brandenburg and Culmbach both, came now to the third Brother, Albert; who has been in Culmbath these many years already. A tall, fiery, tough old gentleman, of formidable talent for fighting, who was called the “ACHILLES OF GERMANY” in his day; being then a very blazing far-seen character, dim as he has now grown. [Born 1414; Kurfurst, 1471-1486.] This Albert Achilles was the Third Elector; Ancestor he of all the Brandenburg and Culmbach Hohenzollern Princes that have since figured in the world. After him there is no break or shift in the succession, down to the little Friedrich now born;–Friedrich the old Grandfather, First KING, was the Twelfth KURFURST.
We have to say, they followed generally in their Ancestors’ steps, and had success of the like kind, more or less; Hohenzollerns all of them, by character and behavior as well as by descent. No lack of quiet energy, of thrift, sound sense. There was likewise solid fair-play in general, no founding of yourself on ground that will not carry;–and there was instant, gentle but inexorable, crushing of mutiny, if it showed itself; which, after the Second Elector, or at most the Third, it had altogether ceased to do. Young Friedrich II., upon whom those Berlin Burghers had tried to close their gates, till he should sign some “Capitulation” to their mind, got from them, and not quite in ill-humor, that name IRONTEETH:–“Not the least a Nose-of-wax, this one! No use trying here, then!”–which, with the humor attached to it, is itself symbolical of Friedrich and these Hohenzollern Sovereigns. Albert, his Brother, had plenty of fighting in his time: but it was in the Nurnberg and other distant regions; no fighting, or hardly any, needed in Brandenburg henceforth.
With Nurnberg, and the Ex-Burggrafship there, now when a new generation began to tug at the loose clauses of that Bargain with Friedrich I., and all Free-Towns were going high upon their privileges, Albert had at one time much trouble, and at length actual furious War;–other Free-Towns countenancing and assisting Nurnberg in the affair; numerous petty Princes, feudal Lords of the vicinity, doing the like by Albert. Twenty years ago, all this; and it did not last, so furious was it. “Eight victories,” they count on Albert’s part,–furious successful skirmishes, call them;–in one of which, I remember, Albert plunged in alone, his Ritters being rather shy; and laid about him hugely, hanging by a standard he had taken, till his life was nearly beaten out. [1449 (Rentsch, p. 399).] Eight victories; and also one defeat, wherein Albert got captured, and had to ransom himself. The captor was one Kunz of Kauffungen, the Nurnberg hired General at the time: a man known to some readers for his Stealing of the Saxon Princes (PRINZENRAUB, they call it); a feat which cost Kunz his head. [Carlyle’s
? PRINZENRAUB.] Albert, however, prevailed in the end, as he was apt to do; and got his Nurnbergers fixed to clauses satisfactory to him.
In his early days he had fought against Poles, Bohemians and others, as Imperial general. He was much concerned, all along, in those abstruse armed-litigations of the Austrian House with its dependencies; and diligently helped the Kaiser,–Friedrich III., rather a weakish, but an eager and greedy Kaiser,–through most of them. That inextricable Hungarian-Bohemian-Polish DONNYBROOK (so we may call it) which Austria had on hand, one of Sigismund’s bequests to Austria; distressingly tumultuous Donnybrook, which goes from 1440 to 1471, fighting in a fierce confused manner;– the Anti-Turk Hunniades, the Anti-Austrian Corvinus, the royal Majesties George Podiebrad, Ladislaus POSTHUMUS, Ludwig OHNE HAUT (Ludwig NO-SKIN), and other Ludwigs, Ladislauses and Vladislauses, striking and getting struck at such a rate:–Albert was generally what we may call chief-constable in all that; giving a knock here and then one there, in the Kaiser’s name. [Hormayr, ii. 138, 140 (? HUNYADY CORVIN); Rentsch, pp. 389-422; Michaelis, i. 304-313.] Almost from boyhood, he had learned soldiering, which he had never afterwards leisure to forget. Great store of fighting he had,–say half a century of it, off and on, during the seventy and odd years he lasted in this world. With the Donnybrook we spoke of; with the Nurnbergers; with the Dukes of Bavaria (endless bickerings with these Dukes, Ludwig BEARDY, Ludwig SUPERBUS, Ludwig GIBBOSUS or Hunchback, against them and about them, on his own and the Kaiser’s score); also with the French, already clutching at Lorraine; also with Charles the Rash of Burgundy;–lastly with the Bishop of Bamberg, who got him excommunicated and would not bury the dead.
Kurfurst Albert’s Letter on this last emergency, to his Viceregent in Culmbach, is a famed Piece still extant (date 1481); [Rentsch, p. 409.] and his plan in such emergency, is a simple and likely one: “Carry the dead bodies to the Parson’s house; let him see whether he will not bury them by and by!–One must fence off the Devil by the Holy Cross,” says Albert,–appeal to Heaven with what honest mother-wit Heaven has vouchsafed one, means Albert. “These fellows” (the Priests), continues he, “would fain have the temporal sword as well as the spiritual. Had God wished there should be only one sword, he could have contrived that as well as the two. He surely did not want for intellect
ein weiser Mann),”
Battle enough, poor man, with steel and other weapons:–and we see he did it with sharp insight, good forecast; now and then in a wildly leonine or AQUILINE manner. A tall hook-nosed man, of lean, sharp, rather taciturn aspect; nose and look are very aquiline; and there is a cloudy sorrow in those old eyes, which seems capable of sudden effulgence to a dangerous extent. He was a considerable, diplomatist too: very great with the Kaiser, Old Friedrich III. (Max’s father, Charles V.’s Great-Grandfather); [How admirahle Albert is, not to say “almost divine,” to the Kaiser’s then Secretary, oily-mouthed AEneas Sylvius, afterwards Pope, Rentsch can testify (pp. 401, 586); quoting AEneas’s eulogies and gossipries (
Kurfurst Albert died in 1486, March 11, aged seventy-two. It was some months after Bosworth Fight, where our Crooked Richard got his quietus here in England and brought the Wars of the Roses to their finale:–a little chubby Boy, the son of poor parents at Eisleben in Saxony, Martin Luther the name of him, was looking into this abtruse Universe, with those strange eyes of his, in what rough woollen or linsey-woolsey short-clothes we do not know. [Born 10th November, 1483]
Albert’s funeral was very grand; the Kaiser himself, and all the Magnates of the Diet and Reich attending him from Frankfurt to his last resting-place, many miles of road. For he died at the Diet, in Frankfurt-on-Mayn; having fallen ill there while busy,–perhaps too busy for that age, in the harsh spring weather,–electing Prince Maximilian (“lucky Max,” who will be Kaiser too before long, and is already deep in ILL-luck, tragical and other to be King of the Romans. The old Kaiser had “looked in on him at Onolzbach” (Anspach), and brought him along; such a man could not be wanting on such an occasion. A man who “perhaps did more for the German Empire than for the Electorate of Brandenburg,” hint some. The Kaiser himself, Friedrich III., was now getting old; anxious to see Max secure, and to set his house in order. A somewhat anxious, creaky, close-fisted, ineffectual old Kaiser; [See Kohler (
ii. 89-96, &c.) for a vivid account of him.] distinguished by his luck in getting Max so provided for, and bringing the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands to his House. He is the first of the Hapsburg Kaisers who had what has since been called the “Austrian lip”–protrusive under-jaw, with heavy lip disinclined to shut. He got it from his Mother, and bequeathed it in a marked manner; his posterity to this day bearing traces of it. Mother’s name was Cimburgis, a Polish Princess, “Duke of Masovia’s daughter;” a lady who had something of the MAULTASCHE in her, in character as well as mouth.–In old Albert, the poor old Kaiser has lost his right hand; and no doubt muses sadly as he rides in the funeral procession.
Albert is buried at Heilsbronn in Frankenland, among his Ancestors,–burial in Brandenburg not yet common for these new Kurfursts:–his skull, in an after-time, used to be shown there, laid on the lid of the tomb; skull marvellous for strength, and for “having no visible sutures,” says Rentsch. Pious Brandenburg Officiality at length put an end to that profanation, and restored the skull to its place,–marvellous enough, with what had once dwelt in it, whether it had sutures or not.
JOHANN THE CICERO IS FOURTH KURFURST, AND LEAVES TWO NOTABLE SONS.
Albert’s eldest Son, the Fourth Kurfurst, was Johannes Cicero (1486-1499): Johannes was his natural name, to which the epithet “Cicero of Germany (CICERO GERMANIAE)” was added by an admiring public. He had commonly administered the Electorate during his Father’s absences; and done it with credit to himself. He was an active man, nowise deficient as a Governor; creditably severe on highway robbers, for one thing,–destroys you “fifteen baronial robber-towers” at a stroke; was also concerned in the Hungarian- Bohemian DONNYBROOK, and did that also well. But nothing struck a discerning public like the talent he had for speaking. Spoke “four hours at a stretch in Kaiser Max’s Diets, in elegantly flowing Latin;” with a fair share of meaning, too;–and had bursts of parliamentary eloquence in him that were astonishing to hear. A tall, square-headed man, of erect, cheerfully composed aspect, head flung rather back if anything: his bursts of parliamentary eloquence, once glorious as the day, procured him the name “Johannes CICERO;” and that is what remains of them: for they are sunk now, irretrievable he and they, into the belly of eternal Night; the final resting-place, I do perceive, of much Ciceronian ware in this world. Apparently he had, like some of his Descendants, what would now be called “distinguished literary talents,”–insignificant to mankind and us. I find he was likewise called DER GROSSE, “John the GREAT;” but on investigation it proves to be mere “John the BIG,” a name coming from his tall stature and ultimate fatness of body.
For the rest, he left his family well off, connected with high Potentates all around; and had increased his store, to a fair degree, in his time. Besides his eldest Son who followed as Elector, by name Joachim I., a burly gentleman of whom much is written in Books, he left a second Son, Archbishop of Magdeburg, who in time became Archbishop of Mainz and Cardinal of Holy Church, [Ulrich van Hutten’s grand “Panegyric” upon this Albert on his first Entrance into Mainz (9th October, 1514),–“entrance with a retinue of 2,000 horse, mainly furnished by the Brandenburg and Culmbach kindred,” say the old Books,–is in
Hutten Equitis Germani Opera
Berlin, 1821), i. 276-310.]–and by accident got to be forever memorable in Church-History, as we shall see anon. Archbishop of Mainz means withal KUR-MAINZ, Elector of Mainz; who is Chief of the Seven Electors, and as it were their President or “Speaker.” Albert was the name of this one; his elder Brother, the then Kur-Brandenburg, was called Joachim. Cardinal Albert Kur-Mainz, like his brother Joachim Kur-Brandenburg, figures much, and blazes widely abroad, in the busy reign of Karl V., and the inextricable Lutheran-Papal, Turk-Christian business it had.
But the notable point in this Albert of Mainz was that of Leo X. and the Indulgences. [Pauli, v. 496-499; Rentsch, p. 869.] Pope Leo had permitted Albert to retain his Archbishopric of Magdeburg and other dignities along with that of Mainz; which was an unusual favor. But the Pope expected to be paid for it,–to have 30,000 ducats (15,000 pounds), almost a King’s ransom at that time, for the “Pallium” to Mainz; PALLIUM, or little Bit of woollen Cloth, on sale by the Pope, without which Mainz could not he held. Albert, with all his dignities, was dreadfully short of money at the time. Chapter of Mainz could or would do little or nothing, having been drained lately; Magdeburg, Halberstadt, the like. Albert tried various shifts; tried a little stroke of trade in relics,–gathered in the Mainz district “some hundreds of fractional sacred bones, and three whole bodies,” which he sent to Halle for pious purchase;–but nothing came of this branch. The 15,000 pounds remained unpaid; and Pope Leo, building St. Peter’s, “furnishing a sister’s toilet,” and doing worse things, was in extreme need of it. What is to be done? “I could borrow the money from the Fuggers of Augsburg,” said the Archbishop hesitatingly; “but then–?”–“I could help you to repay it.” said his Holiness: “Could repay the half of it,–if only we had (but they always make such clamor about these things) an Indulgence published in Germany!”–“Well; it must be!” answered Albert at last, agreeing to take the clamor on himself, and to do the feat; being at his wits’-end for money. He draws out his Full- Power, which, as first Spiritual Kurfurst, he has the privilege to do; nominates (1516) one Tetzel for Chief Salesman, a Priest whose hardness of face, and shiftiness of head and hand, were known to him; and–here is one Hohenzollern that has a place in History! Poor man, it was by accident, and from extreme tightness for money. He was by no means a violent Churchman; he had himself inclinations towards Luther, even of a practical sort, as the thing went on. But there was no help for it.
Cardinal Albert, Kur-Mainz, shows himself a copious dexterous public speaker at the Diets and elsewhere in those times; a man intent on avoiding violent methods;–uncomfortably fat in his later years, to judge by the Portraits. Kur-Brandenburg, Kur-Mainz (the younger now officially even greater than the elder), these names are perpetually turning up in the German Histories of that Reformation-Period; absent on no great occasion; and they at length, from amid the meaningless bead-roll of Names, wearisomely met with in such Books, emerge into Persons for us as above.
OF THE BAIREUTH-ANSPACH BRANCH.
Albert Achilles the Third Elector had, before his accession, been Margraf of Anspach, and since his Brother the Alchemist’s death, Margraf of Baireuth too, or of the whole Principality,–“Margraf of Culmbach” we will call it, for brevity’s sake, though the bewildering old Books have not steadily any name for it. [A certain subaltern of this express title, “Margraf of Culmbach” (a Cadet, with some temporary appanage there, who was once in the service of him they call the Winter-King, and may again be transiently heard of by us here), is the altogether Mysterious Personage who prints himself “MARQUIS DE LULENBACH” in Bromley’s
pp. 52, &c.:–one of the most curious Books on the Thirty-Years War; “edited” with a composed stupidity, and cheerful infinitude of ignorance, which still farther distinguish it. The BROMLEY Originals well worth a real editing, turn out, on inquiry, to have been “sold as Autographs, and dispersed beyond recovery, about fifty years ago.”] After his accession, Albert Achilles naturally held both Electorate and Principality during the rest of his life. Which was an extremely rare predicament for the two Countries, the big and the little.
No other Elector held them both, for nearly a hundred years; nor then, except as it were for a moment. The two countries, Electorate and Principality, Hohenzollern both, and constituting what the Hohenzollerns had in this world, continued intimately connected; with affinity and clientship carefully kept, up, and the lesser standing always under the express protection and as it were COUSINSHIP of the greater. But they had their separate Princes, Lines of Princes; and they only twice, in the time of these Twelve Electors, came even temporarily under the same head. And as to ultimate union, Brandenburg-Baireuth and Brandenburg- Anspach were not incorporated with Brandenburg-Proper, and its new fortunes, till almost our own day, namely in 1791; nor then either to continue; having fallen to Bavaria, in the grand Congress of Vienna, within the next five-and-twenty years. All which, with the complexities and perplexities resulting from it here, we must, in some brief way, endeavor to elucidate for the reader.
TWO LINES IN CULMBACH OR BAIREUTH-ANSPACH: THE GERA BOND OF 1598.
Culmbach the Elector left, at his death, to his Second Son,– properly to two sons, but one of them soon died, and the other became sole possessor;–Friedrich by name; who, as founder of the Elder Line of Brandenburg-Culmbach Princes, must not be forgotten by us. Founder of the First or Elder Line, for there are two Lines; this of Friedrich’s having gone out in about a hundred years; and the Anspach-Baireuth territories having fallen home again to Brandenburg;–where, however, they continued only during the then Kurfurst’s life.;ohann George (1525-1598), Seventh Kurfurst, was he to whom Brandenburg-Culmbach fell home,–nay, strictly speaking, it was but the sure prospect of it that fell home, the thing itself did not quite fall in his time, though the disposal of it did, [“Disposal,” 1598; thing itself, 1603, in his Son’s time.]–to be conjoined again with Brandenburg-Proper. Conjoined for the short potential remainder of his own life; and then to be disposed of as an apanage again;–which latter operation, as Johann George had three-and-twenty children, could be no difficult one.
Johann George, accordingly (Year 1598), split the Territory in two; Brandenburg-Baireuth was for his second son, Brandenburg- Anspach for his third: hereby again were two new progenitors of Culmbach Princes introduced, and a New Line, Second or “Younger Line” they call it (Line mostly split in two, as heretofore); which–after complex adventures in its split condition, Baireuth under one head, Anspach under another–continues active down to our little Fritz’s time and farther. As will become but too apparent to us in the course of this History!–
From of old these Territories had been frequently divided: each has its own little capital, Town of Anspach, Town of Baireuth, [Populations about the same; 16,000 to 17,000 in our time.] suitable for such arrangement. Frequently divided; though always under the closest cousinship, and ready for reuniting, if possible. Generally under the Elder Line too, under Friedrich’s posterity, which was rather numerous and often in need of apanages, they had been in separate hands. But the understood practice was not to divide farther; Baireuth by itself, Anspach by itself (or still luckier if one hand could get hold of both),–and especially Brandenburg by itself, uncut by any apanage: this, I observe, was the received practice. But Johann George, wise Kurfurst as he was, wished now to make it surer; and did so by a famed Deed, called the Gera Bond (GERAISCHE VERTRAG), dated 1598, [Michaelis, i. 345.] the last year of Johann George’s life.
Hereby, in a Family Conclave held at that Gera, a little town in Thuringen, it was settled and indissolubly fixed, That their Electorate, unlike all others in Germany, shall continue indivisible; Law of Primogeniture, here if nowhere else, is to be in full force; and only the Culmbach Territory (if otherwise unoccupied) can be split off for younger sons. Culmbach can be split off; and this again withal can be split, if need be, into two (Baireuth and Anspach); but not in any case farther. Which Household-Law was strictly obeyed henceforth. Date of it 1598; principal author, Johann George, Seventh Elector. This “Gera Bond” the reader can note for himself as an excellent piece of Hohenzollern thrift, and important in the Brandenburg annals. On the whole, Brandenburg keeps continually growing under these Twelve Hohenzollerns, we perceive; slower or faster, just as the Burggrafdom had done, and by similar methods. A lucky outlay of money (as in the case of Friedrich Ironteeth in the Neumark) brings them one Province, lucky inheritance another:–good management is always there, which is the mother of good luck.
And so there goes on again, from Johann George downwards, a new stream of Culmbach Princes, called the Younger or New Line,– properly two contemporary Lines, of Baireuthers and Anspachers;– always in close affinity to Brandenburg, and with ultimate reversion to Brandenburg, should both Lines fail; but with mutual inheritance if only one. They had intricate fortunes, service in foreign armies, much wandering about, sometimes considerable scarcity of cash: but, for a hundred and fifty years to come, neither Line by any means failed,–rather the contrary, in fact.
Of this latter or New Culmbach Line, or split Line, especially of the Baireuth part of it, our little Wilhelmina, little Fritz’s Sister, who became Margravine there, has given all the world notice. From the Anspach part of it (at that time in sore scarcity of cash) came Queen Caroline, famed in our George the Second’s time. [See a Synoptic Diagram of these Genealogies, infra, p. 388a.] From it too came an unmomentous Margraf, who married a little Sister of Wilhelmina’s and Fritz’s; of whom we shall hear. There is lastly a still more unmomentous Margraf, only son of said Unmomentous and his said Spouse; who again combined the two Territories, Baireuth having failed of heirs; and who, himself without heirs, and with a frail Lady Craven as Margravine,–died at Hammersmith, close by us, in 1806; and so ended the troublesome affair. He had already, in 1791, sold off to Prussia all temporary claims of his; and let Prussia have the Heritage at once without waiting farther. Prussia, as we noticed, did not keep it long; and it is now part of the Bavarian Dominion;–for the sake of editors and readers, long may it so continue!
Of this Younger Line, intrinsically rather insignificant to mankind, we shall have enough to write in time and place; we must at present direct our attention to the Elder Line.
THE ELDER LINE OF CULMBACH: FRIEDRICH AND HIS THREE NOTABLE SONS THERE.
Kurfurst Albert Achilles’s second son, Friedrich (1460-1536), [Rentsch, pp. 593-602.] the founder of the Elder Culmbach Line, ruled his country well for certain years, and was “a man famed for strength of body and mind;” but claims little notice from us, except for the sons he had. A quiet, commendable, honorable man,– with a certain pathetic dignity, visible even in the eclipsed state he sank into. Poor old gentleman, after grand enough feats in war and peace, he fell melancholy, fell imbecile, blind, soon after middle life; and continued so for twenty years, till he died. During which dark state, say the old Books, it was a pleasure to see with what attention his Sons treated him, and how reverently the eldest always led him out to dinner. [Ib. p. 612.] They live and dine at that high Castle of Plassenburg, where old Friedrich can behold the Red or White Mayn no more. Alas, alas, Plassenburg is now a Correction-House, where male and female scoundrels do beating of hemp; and pious Friedrich, like eloquent Johann, has become a forgotten object. He was of the German Reichs-Array, who marched to the Netherlands to deliver Max from durance; Max, the King of the Romans, whom, for all his luck, the mutinous Flemings had put under lock-and-key at one time. [1482 (Pauli, ii. 389): his beautiful young Wife, “thrown from her horse,” had perished in a thrice-tragic way, short while before; and the Seventeen Provinces were unruly under the guardianship of Max.] That is his one feat memorable to me at present.
He was Johann Cicero’s HALF-brother, child by a second wife. Like his Uncle Kurfurst Friedrich II., he had married a Polish Princess; the sharp Achilles having perhaps an eye to crowns in that direction, during that Hungarian-Bohemian-Polish Donnybrook. But if so, there again came nothing of a crown with it; though it was not without its good results for Friedrich’s children by and by.
He had eight Sons that reached manhood; five or six of whom came to something considerable in the world, and Three are memorable down to this day. One of his daughters he married to the Duke of Liegnitz in Silesia; which is among the first links I notice of a connection that grew strong with that sovereign Duchy, and is worth remarking by my readers here. Of the Three notable Sons it is necessary that we say something. Casimir, George, Albert are the names of these Three.
Casimir, the eldest, [1481-1527.] whose share of heritage is Baireuth, was originally intended for the Church; but inclining rather to secular and military things, or his prospects of promotion altering, he early quitted that; and took vigorously to the career of arms and business. A truculent-looking Herr, with thoughtful eyes, and hanging under-lip:–HAT of enviable softness; loose disk of felt flung carelessly on, almost like a nightcap artificially extended, so admirably soft;–and the look of the man Casimir, between his cataract of black beard and this semi- nightcap, is carelessly truculent. He had much fighting with the Nurnbergers and others; laid it right terribly on, in the way of strokes, when needful. He was especially truculent upon the Revolt of Peasants in their BAUERNKRIEG (1525). Them in their wildest rage he fronted; he, that others might rally to him: “Unhappy mortals, will you shake the world to pieces, then, because you have much to complain of?” and hanged the ringleaders of them literally by the dozen, when quelled and captured. A severe, rather truculent Herr. His brother George, who had Anspach for heritage, and a right to half those prisoners, admonished and forgave his half; and pleaded hard with Casimir for mercy to the others, in a fine Letter still extant; [In Rentsch, p. 627.] which produced no effect on Casimir. For the dog’s sake, and for all sakes, “let not the dog learn to eat LEATHER;” (of which his indispensable leashes and muzzles are made)! That was a proverb often heard on the occasion, in Luther’s mouth among the rest.
Casimir died in 1527, age then towards fifty. For the last dozen years or so, when the Father’s malady became hopeless, he had governed Culmbach, both parts of it; the Anspach part, which belonged to his next brother George, going naturally, in almost all things, along with Baireuth; and George, who was commonly absent, not interfering, except on important occasions. Casimir left one little Boy, age then only six, name Albert; to whom George, henceforth practical sovereign of Culmbach, as his Brother had been, was appointed Guardian. This youth, very full of fire, wildfire too much of it, exploded dreadfully on Germany by and by (Albert ALCIBIADES the name they gave him); nay, towards the end of his nonage, he had been rather sputtery upon his Uncle, the excellent Guardian who had charge of him.
FRIEDRICH’S SECOND SON, MARGRAF GEORGE OF ANSPACH.
Uncle George of Anspach, Casimir’s next Brother, had always been of a peaceabler disposition than Casimir; not indeed without heat of temper, and sufficient vivacity of every kind. As a youth, he had aided Kaiser Max in two of his petty wars; but was always rather given “to reading Latin,” to Learning, and ingenious pursuits. His Polish Mother, who, we perceive, had given “Casimir” his name, proved much more important to George. At an early age he went to his Uncle Vladislaus, King of Hungary and Bohemia: for– Alas, after all, we shall have to cast a glance into that unbeautiful Hungarian-Bohemian scramble, comparable to an “Irish Donnybrook,” where Albert Achilles long walked as Chief-Constable. It behooves us, after all, to point out some of the tallest heads in it; and whitherward, bludgeon in hand, they seem to be swaying and struggling.–Courage, patient reader!
George, then, at an early age went to his Uncle Vladislaus, King of Hungary and Bohemia: for George’s Mother, as we know, was of royal kin; daughter of the Polish King, Casimir IV. (late mauler of the Teutsch Ritters); which circumstance had results for George and us. Daughter of Casimir IV. the Lady was; and therefore of the Jagellon blood by her father, which amounts to little; but by her mother she was Granddaughter of that Kaiser Albert II. who “got Three Crowns in one year, and died the next;” whose posterity have ever since,–up to the lips in trouble with their confused competitive accompaniments, Hunniades, Corvinus, George Podiebrad and others, not to speak of dragon Turks coiling ever closer round you on the frontier,–been Kings of Hungary and Bohemia; TWO of the crowns (the HERITABLE two) which were got by Kaiser Albert in that memorable year. He got them, as the reader may remember, by having the daughter of Kaiser Sigismund to wife,–Sigismund SUPER- GRAMMATICAM, whom we left standing, red as a flamingo, in the market-place of Constance a hundred years ago. Thus Time rolls on in its many-colored manner, edacious and feracious.
It is in this way that George’s Uncle, Vladislaus, Albert’s daughter’s son, is now King of Hungary and Bohemia: the last King Vladislaus they had; and the last King but one, of any kind, as we shall see anon. Vladislaus was heir of Poland too, could he have managed to get it; but he gave up that to his brother, to various younger brothers in succession; having his hands full with the Hungarian and Bohemian difficulty. He was very fond of Nephew George; well recognizing the ingenuous, wise and loyal nature of the young man. He appointed George tutor of his poor son Ludwig; whom he left at the early age of ten, in an evil world, and evil position there. “Born without Skin,” they say, that is, born in the seventh month;–called Ludwig OHNE HAUT (Ludwig NO-Skin), on that account. Born certainly, I can perceive, rather thin of skin; and he would have needed one of a rhinoceros thickness!
George did his function honestly, and with success: Ludwig grew up a gallant, airy, brisk young King, in spite of difficulties, constitutional and other; got a Sister of the great Kaiser Karl V. to wife;–determined (A.D. 1526) to have a stroke at the Turk dragon; which, was coiling round his frontier, and spitting fire at an intolerable rate. Ludwig, a fine young man of twenty, marched away with much Hungarian chivalry, right for the Turk (Summer 1526); George meanwhile going busily to Bohemia, and there with all his strength levying troops for reinforcement. Ludwig fought and fenced, for some time, with the Turk outskirts; came at last to a furious general battle with the Turk (29th August, 1526), at a place called Mohacz, far east in the flats of the Lower Donau; and was there tragically beaten and ended. Seeing the Battle gone, and his chivalry all in flight, Ludwig too had to fly; galloping for life, he came upon bog which proved bottomless, as good as bottomless; and Ludwig, horse and man, vanished in it straightway from this world. Hapless young man, like a flash of lightning suddenly going down there–and the Hungarian Sovereignty along with him. For Hungary is part of Austria ever since; having, with Bohemia, fallen to Karl V.’s Brother Ferdinand, as now the nearest convenient heir of Albert with his Three Crowns. Up to the lips in difficulties to this day!–
George meanwhile, with finely appointed reinforcements, was in full march to join Ludwig; but the sad news of Mohacz met him: he withdrew, as soon as might be, to his own territory, and quitted Hungarian politics. This, I think, was George’s third and last trial of war. He by no means delighted in that art, or had cultivated it like Casimir and some of his brothers.–
George by this time had considerable property; part of it important to the readers of this History. Anspach we already know; but the Duchy of Jagerndorf,–that and its pleasant valleys, fine hunting-grounds and larch-clad heights, among the Giant Mountains of Silesia,–that is to us the memorable territory. George got it in this manner:–
Some ten or fifteen years ago, the late King Vladislaus, our Uncle of blessed memory, loving George, and not having royal moneys at command, permitted him to redeem with his own cash certain Hungarian Domains, pledged at a ruinously cheap rate, but unredeemable by Vladislaus. George did so; years ago, guess ten or fifteen. George did not like the Hungarian Domains, with their Turk and other inconveniences; he proposed to exchange them with King Vladislaus for the Bohemian-Silesian Duchy of Jagerndorf; which had just then, by failure of heirs, lapsed to the King. This also Vladislaus, the beneficent cashless Uncle, liking George more and more, permitted to be done. And done it was; I see not in what year; only that the ultimate investiture (done, this part of the affair, by Ludwig OHNE HAUT, and duly sanctioned by the Kaiser) dates 1524, two years before the fatal Mohacz business.
From the time of this purchase, and especially till Brother Casimir’s death, which happened in 1527, George resided oftener at Jagerndorf than at Anspach. Anspach, by the side of Baireuth, needed no management; and in Jagerndorf much probably required the hand of a good Governor to put it straight again. The Castle of Jagerndorf, which towers up there in a rather grand manner to this day, George built: “the old Castle of the Schellenbergs” (extinct predecessor Line) now gone to ruins, “stands on a Hill with larches on it, some miles off.” Margraf George was much esteemed as Duke of Jagerndorf. What his actions in that region were, I know not; but it seems he was so well thought of in Silesia, two smaller neighboring Potentates, the Duke of Oppeln and the Duke of Ratibor, who had no heirs of their body, bequeathed, with the Kaiser’s assent, these towns and territories to George: [Rentsch, pp. 623, 127-131. Kaiser is Ferdinand, Karl V.’s Brother,–as yet only KING of Bohemia and Hungary, but supreme in regard to such points. His assent is dated “17th June, 1531” in Rentsch.]–in mere love to their subjects (Rentsch intimates), that poor men might be governed by a wise good Duke, in the time coming. The Kaiser would have got the Duchies otherwise.
Nay the Kaiser, in spite of his preliminary assent, proved extortionate to George in this matter; and exacted heavy sums for the actual possession of Oppeln and Ratibor. George, going so zealously ahead in Protestant affairs, grew less and less a favorite with Kaisers. But so, at any rate, on peaceable unquestionable grounds, grounds valid as Imperial Law and ready money, George is at last Lord of these two little Countries, in the plain of South-Silesia, as of Jagerndorf among the Mountains hard by. George has and holds the Duchy of Jagerndorf, with these appendages (Jagerndorf since 1524, Ratibor and Oppeln since some years later); and lives constantly, or at the due intervals, in his own strong Mountain-Castle of Jagerndorf there,–we have no doubt, to the marked benefit of good men in those parts. Hereby has Jagerndorf joined itself to the Brandenburg Territories: and the reader can note the circumstance, for it will prove memorable one day.
In the business of the Reformation, Margraf George was very noble. A simple-hearted, truth-loving, modestly valiant man; rising unconsciously, in that great element, into the heroic figure. “George the Pious (DER FROMME),” “George the Confessor (BEKENNER),” were the names he got from his countrymen. Once this business had become practical, George interfered a little more in the Culmbach Government; his brother Casimir, who likewise had Reformation tendencies, rather hanging back in comparison to George.
In 1525 the Town-populations, in the Culmbach region, big Nurnberg in the van, had gone quite ahead in the new Doctrine; and were becoming irrepressibly impatient to clear out the old mendacities, and have the Gospel preached freely to them. This was a questionable step; feasible perhaps for a great Elector of Saxony;–but for a Margraf of Anspach? George had come home from Jagerndorf, some three hundred miles away, to look into it for himself; found it, what with darkness all round, what with precipices menacing on both hands, and zealous, inconsiderate Town-populations threatening to take the bit between their teeth, a frightfully intricate thing. George mounted his horse, one day this year, day not dated farther, and “with only six attendants” privately rode off, another two hundred miles, a good three days’ ride, to Wittenberg; and alighted at Dr. Martinus Lutherus’s door. [Rentsch, p. 625.] A notable passage; worth thinking of. But such visits of high Princes, to that poor house of the Doctor’s, were not then uncommon. Luther cleared the doubts of George; George returned with a resolution taken; “Ahead then, ye poor Voigtland Gospel populations! I must lead you, we must on!”–And perils enough there proved to be, and precipices on each hand: BAUERNKRIEG, that is to say Peasants’-War, Anabaptistry and Red- Republic, on the one hand; REICHS-ACHT, Ban of Empire, on the other. But George, eagerly, solemnly attentive, with ever new light rising on him, dealt with the perils as they came; and went steadily on, in a simple, highly manful and courageous manner.
He did not live to see the actual Wars that followed on Luther’s preaching:–he was of the same age with Luther, born few months later, and died two years before Luther; [4th March, 1484,– 27th Dec., 1543, George; 10th November, 1483–18th February, 1546, Luther.]–but in all the intermediate principal transactions George is conspicuously present; “George of Brandenburg,” as the Books call him, or simply “Margraf George.”
At the Diet of Augsburg (1530), and the signing of the Augsburg Confession there, he was sure to be. He rode thither with his Anspach Knightage about him, “four hundred cavaliers,”– Seckendorfs, Huttens, Flanses and other known kindreds, recognizable among the lists; [Rentsch, p. 633.]–and spoke there, notbursts of parliamentary eloquence, but things that had meaning in them. One speech of his, not in the Diet, but in the Kaiser’s Lodging (15th June, 1530; no doubt, in Anton Fugger’s house, where the Kaiser “lodged for year and day” this time but WITHOUT the “fires of cinnamon” they talk of on other occasions [See Carlyle’s
Invinciblest all-gracious Kaiser, loyal are we to your high Majesty, ready to do your bidding by night and by day. But it is your bidding under God, not against God. Ask us not, 0 gracious Kaiser! I cannot, and we cannot; and we must not, and dare not. And “before I would deny my God and his Evangel,” these are George’s own words, “I would rather kneel down here before your Majesty, and have my head struck off,”–hitting his hind-head, or neck, with the edge of his hand, by way of accompaniment; a strange radiance in the eyes of him, voice risen into musical alt:
Speaker and company attended again on the morrow; Margraf George still more eloquent. Whose Speech flew over Germany, like fire over dry flax; and still exists,–both Speeches now oftenest rolled into one by inaccurate editors. [As by Rentsch, ubi supra.] And the CORPUS-CHRISTI idolatries were forborne the Margraf and his company this time;–the Kaiser himself, however, walking, nearly roasted in the sun, in heavy purple-velvet cloak, with a big wax-candle, very superfluous, guttering and blubbering in the right hand of him, along the streets of Augsburg. Kur-Brandenburg, Kur-Mainz, high cousins of George, were at this Diet of Augsburg; Kur-Brandenburg (Elector Joachim I., Cicero’s son, of whom we have spoken, and shall speak again) being often very loud on the conservative side; and eloquent Kur-Mainz going on the conciliatory tack. Kur-Brandenburg, in his zeal, had ridden on to Innspruck, to meet the Kaiser there, and have a preliminary word with him. Both these high Cousins spoke, and bestirred themselves, a good deal, at this Diet. They had met the Kaiser on the plains of the Lech, this morning; and, no doubt, gloomed unutterable things on George and his Speech. George could not help it.
Till his death in 1543, George is to be found always in the front line of this high Movement, in the line where Kur-Sachsen, John the Steadfast (DER BESTANDIGE), and young Philip the Magnanimous of Hessen were, and where danger and difficulty were. Readers of this enlightened gold-nugget generation can form to themselves no conception of the spirit that then possessed the nobler kingly mind. “The command of God endures through Eternity,
Verbum Dei Manet In AEternum,”
Life-motto which John the Steadfast had adopted for himself; “V. D. M. I. AE.,” these initials he had engraved on all the furnitures of his existence, on his standards, pictures, plate, on the very sleeves of his lackeys,–and I can perceive, on his own deep heart first of all. V. D. M. I. E.:–or might it not be read withal, as Philip of Hessen sometimes said (Philip, still a young fellow, capable of sport in his magnanimous scorn),
“Verbum Diaboli Manet In Episcopis,
sticks fast in the Bishops”?
We must now take leave of Margraf George and his fine procedures in that crisis of World-History. He had got Jugerndorf, which became important for his Family and others: but what was that to the Promethean conquests (such we may call them) which he had the honor to assist in making for his Family, and for his Country, and for all men;–very unconscious he of “bringing fire from Heaven,” good modest simple man! So far as I can gather, there lived, in that day, few truer specimens of the Honest Man. A rugged, rough-hewn, rather blunt-nosed physiognomy: cheek-bones high, cheeks somewhat bagged and wrinkly; eyes with a due shade of anxiety and sadness in them; affectionate simplicity, faithfulness, intelligence, veracity looking out of every feature of him. Wears plentiful white beard short-cut, plentiful gold-chains, ruffs, ermines;–a hat not to be approved of, in comparison with brother Casimir’s; miserable inverted-colander of a hat; hanging at an angle of forty-five degrees; with band of pearls round the top not the bottom of it; insecure upon the fine head of George, and by no means to its embellishment.
One of his Daughters he married to the Duke of Liegnitz, a new link in that connection. He left one Boy, George Friedrich; who came under ALCIBIADES, his Cousin of Baireuth’s tutelage; and suffered much by that connection, or indeed chiefly by his own conspicuously Protestant turn, to punish which, the Alcibiades connection was taken as a pretext. In riper years, George Friedrich got his calamities brought well under; and lived to do good work, Protestant and other, in the world. To which we may perhaps allude again. The Line of Margraf George the Pious ends in this George Friedrich, who had no children; the Line of Margraf George, and the Elder Culmbach Line altogether (1603), Albert Alcibiades, Casimir’s one son, having likewise died without posterity.
“Of the younger Brothers,” says my Authority, “some four were in the Church; two of whom rose to be Prelates;–here are the four:–
“1. One, Wilhelm by name, was Bishop of Riga, in the remote Prussian outskirts, and became Protestant;–among the first great Prelates who took that heretical course; being favored by circumstances to cast out the ‘V. D.
“2. The other Prelate held fast by the Papal Orthodoxy: he had got upon the ladder of promotion towards Magdeburg; hoping to follow his Cousin KUR-MAINZ, the eloquent conciliatory Cardinal, in that part of his pluralities. As he did,–little to his comfort, poor man; having suffered a good deal in the sieges and religious troubles of his Magdeburgers; who ended by ordering him away, having openly declared themselves Protestant, at length. He had to go; and occupy himself complaining, soliciting Aulic-Councils and the like, for therest of his life.
“3. The PROBST of Wurzburg (PROVOST, kind of Head-Canon there); orthodox Papal he too; and often gave his Brother George trouble.
“4. A still more orthodox specimen, the youngest member of the family, who is likewise in orders: Gumbrecht (‘Gumbertus, a Canonicus of’ Something or other, say the Books); who went early to Rome, and became one of his Holiness Leo Tenth’s Chamberlains; –stood the ‘Sack of Rome’ (Constable de Bourbon’s), and was captured there and ransomed;–but died still young (1528). These three were Catholics, he of Wurzburg a rather virulent one.”
Catholic also was JOHANNES, a fifth Brother, who followed the soldiering and diplomatic professions, oftenest in Spain; did Government-messages to Diets, and the like, for Karl V.; a high man and well seen of his Kaiser;–he had wedded the young Widow of old King Ferdinand in Spain; which proved, seemingly, a troublous scene for poor Johannes. What we know is, he was appointed Commandant of Valencia; and died there, still little turned of thirty,–by poison it is supposed,–and left his young Widow to marry a third time.
These are the Five minor Brothers, four of them Catholic, sons of old blind Friedrich of Plassenburg; who are not, for their own sake, memorable, but are mentionable for the sake of the three major Brothers. So many orthodox Catholics, while Brother George and others went into the heresies at such a rate! A family much split by religion:–and blind old Friedrich, dim of intellect, knew nothing of it; and the excellent Polish Mother said and thought, we know not what. A divided Time!–
Johannes of Valencia, and these Chief Priests, were all men of mark; conspicuous to the able editors of their day: but the only Brother now generally known to mankind is Albert, Hochmeister of the Teutsch Ritterdom; by whom Preussen came into the Family. Of him we must now speak a little.
HOCHMEISTER ALBERT, THIRD NOTABLE SON OF FRIEDRICH.
Albert was born in 1490; George’s junior by six years, Casimir’s by nine. He too had been meant for the Church; but soon quitted that, other prospects and tendencies opening. He had always loved the ingenuous arts; but the activities too had charms for him. He early shone in his exercises spiritual and bodily; grew tall above his fellows, expert in arts, especially in arms;–rode with his Father to Kaiser Max’s Court; was presented by him, as the light of his eyes, to Kaiser Max; who thought him a very likely young fellow; and bore him in mind, when the Mastership of the Teutsch Ritterdom fell vacant. [Rentsch, pp. 840-863.]
The Teutsch Ritterdom, ever since it got its back broken in that Battle of Tannenberg in 1410, and was driven out of West-Preussen with such ignominious kicks, has been lying bedrid, eating its remaining revenues, or sprawling about in helpless efforts to rise again, which require no notice from us. Hopeless of ever recovering West-Preussen, it had quietly paid its homage to Poland for the Eastern part of that Country; quietly for some couple of generations. But, in the third or fourth generation after Tannenberg, there began to rise murmurs,–in the Holy Roman Empire first of all. “Preussen is a piece of the Reich,” said hot, inconsiderate people; “Preussen could not be alienated without consent of the Reich!” To which discourses the afflicted Ritters listened only too gladly; their dull eyes kindling into new false hopes at sound of them. The point was, To choose as Hochmeister some man of German influence, of power and connection in the Country, who might help them to their so-called right. With this view, they chose one and then another of such sort;–and did not find it very hopeful, as we shall see.
Albert was chosen Grand-Master of Preussen, in February, 1511; age then twenty-one. Made his entry into Konigsberg, November next year; in grand cavalcade, “dreadful storm of rain and wind at the time,”–poor Albert all in black, and full of sorrow, for the loss of his Mother, the good Polish Princess, who had died since he left home. Twenty months of preparation he had held since his Election, before doing anything: for indeed the case was intricate. He, like his predecessor in office, had undertaken to refuse that Homage to Poland; the Reich generally, and Kaiser Max himself, in a loose way of talk, encouraging him: “A piece of the Reich,” said they all; “Teutsch Ritters had no power to give it away in that manner.” Which is a thing more easily said, than made good in the way of doing.
Albert’s predecessor, chosen on this principle, was a Saxon Prince, Friedrich of Meissen; cadet of Saxony; potently enough connected, he too; who, in like manner, had undertaken to refuse the Homage. And zealously did refuse it, though to his cost, poor man. From the Reich, for all its big talking, he got no manner of assistance; had to stave off a Polish War as he could, by fair- speaking, by diplomacies and contrivances; and died at middle age, worn down by the sorrows of that sad position.
An idea prevails, in ill-informed circles, that our new Grand- Master Albert was no better than a kind of cheat; that he took this Grand-Mastership of Preussen; and then, in gayety of heart, surreptitiously pocketed Preussen for his own behoof. Which is an idle idea; inconsistent with the least inquiry, or real knowledge how the matter stood. [Voigt, ix. 740-749; Pauli, iv. 404-407.] By no means in gayety of heart, did Albert pocket Preussen; nor till after as tough a struggle to do other with it as could have been expected of any man.
One thing not suspected by the Teutsch Ritters, and least of all by their young Hochmeister, was, That the Teutsch Ritters had well deserved that terrible down-come at Tannenberg, that ignominious dismissal out of West-Preussen with kicks. Their insolence, luxury, degeneracy had gone to great lengths. Nor did that humiliation mend them at all; the reverse rather. It was deeply hidden from the young Hochmeister as from them, That probably they were now at length got to the end of their capability: and ready to be withdrawn from the scene, as soon as any good way offered!– Of course, they Were reluctant enough to fulfil their bargain to Poland; very loath they to do Homage now for Preussen, and own themselves sunk to the second degree. For the Ritters had still their old haughtiness of humor, their deepseated pride of place, gone now into the unhappy CONSCIOUS state. That is usually the last thing that deserts a sinking House: pride of place, gone to the conscious state;–as if, in a reverse manner, the House felt that it deserved to sink.
For the rest, Albert’s position among them was what Friedrich of Sachsen’s had been; worse, not better; and the main ultimate difference was, he did not die of it, like Friedrich of Sachsen; but found an outlet, not open in Friedrich’s time, and lived. To the Ritters, and vague Public which called itself the Reich, Albert had promised he would refuse the Homage to Poland; on which Ritters and Reich had clapt their hands: and that was pretty much all the assistance he got of them. The Reich, as a formal body, had never asserted its right to Preussen, nor indeed spoken definitely on the subject: it was only the vague Public that had spoken, in the name of the Reich. From the Reich, or from any individual of it, Kaiser or Prince, when actually applied to, Albert could get simply nothing. From what, Ritters were in Preussen, he might perhaps expect promptitude to fight, if it came to that; which was not much as things stood. But, from the great body of the Ritters, scattered over Germany, with their rich territories (BALLEYS, bailliwicks), safe resources, and comfortable “Teutschmeister” over them, he got flat refusal: [The titles HOCHMEISTER and TEUTSCHMEISTER are defined, in many Books and in all manner of Dictionaries, as meaning the same thing. But that is not quite the case. They were at first synonymous, so far as I can see; and after Albert’s time, they again became so; but at the date where we now are, and for a long while back, they represent different entities, and indeed oftenest, since the Prussian DECLINE began, antagonistic ones. Teutschmeister, Sub- president over the GERMAN affairs and possessions of the Order, resides at Mergentheim in that Country: Hochmeister is Chief President of the whole, but resident at Marienburg in Preussen, and feels there acutely where the shoe pinches,–much too acutely, thinks the Teutschmeister in his soft list-slippers, at Mergentheim in the safe Wurzburg region.] “We will not be concerned in the adventure at all; we wish you well through it!” Never was a spirited young fellow placed in more impossible position. His Brother Casimir (George was then in Hungary), his Cousin Joachim Kur-Brandenburg, Friedrich Duke of Liegnitz, a Silesian connection of the Family, [“Duke Friedrich II.:” comes by mothers from Kurfurst Friedrich I.; marries Margraf George’s Daughter even now, 1519 (Hubner, tt. 179, 100, 101).] consulted, advised, negotiated to all lengths, Albert’s own effort was incessant. “Agree with King Sigismund,” said they; “Uncle Sigismund, your good Mother’s Brother; a King softly inclined to us all!”–“How agree?” answered Albert: “He insists on the Homage, which I have promised not to give!” Casimir went and came, to Konigsberg, to Berlin; went once himself to Cracow, to the King, on this errand: but it was a case of “Yes AND No;” not to be solved by Casimir.
As to King Sigismund, he was patient with it to a degree; made the friendliest paternal professions;–testifying withal, That the claim was undeniable; and could by him, Sigismund, never be foregone with the least shadow of honor, and of course never would: “My dear Nephew can consider whether his dissolute, vain-minded, half-heretical Ritterdom, nay whether this Prussian fraction of it, is in a condition to take Poland by the beard in an unjust quarrel; or can hope to do Tannenberg over again in the reverse way, by Beelzehub’s help?”–
For seven years, Albert held out in this intermediate state, neither peace nor war; moving Heaven and Earth to raise supplies, that he might be able to defy Poland, and begin war. The Reich answers, “We have really nothing for you.” Teutschmeister answers again and again, “I tell you we have nothing!” In the end, Sigismund grew impatient; made (December, 1519) some movements of a hostile nature. Albert did not yield; eager only to procrastinate till he were ready. By superhuman efforts, of borrowing, bargaining, soliciting, and galloping to and fro, Albert did, about the end of next year, get up some appearance of an Army: “14,000 German mercenaries horse and foot,” so many in theory; who, to the extent of 8,000 in actual result, came marching towards him (October, 1520); to serve “for eight months.” With these he will besiege Dantzig, besiege Thorn; will plunge, suddenly, like a fiery javelin, into the heart of Poland, and make Poland surrender its claim. Whereupon King Sigismund bestirred himself in earnest; came out with vast clouds of Polish chivalry; overset Albert’s 8,000;–who took to eating the country, instead of fighting for it; being indeed in want of all things. One of the gladdest days Albert had yet seen, was when he got the 8,000 sent home again.
What then is to be done? “Armistice for four years,” Sigismund was still kind enough to consent to that: “Truce for four years: try everywhere, my poor Nephew; after that, your mind will perhaps become pliant.” Albert tried the Reich again: “Four years, 0 Princes, and then I must do it, or be eaten!” Reich, busy with Lutheran-Papal, Turk-Christian quarrels, merely shrugged its shoulders upon Albert. Teutschmeister did the like; everybody the like. In Heaven or Earth, then, is there no hope for me? thought Albert. And his stock of ready money–we will not speak of that!
Meanwhile Dr. Osiander of Anspach had come to him; and the pious young man was getting utterly shaken in his religion. Monkish vows, Pope, Holy Church itself, what is one to think, Herr Doctor? Albert, religious to an eminent degree, was getting deep into Protestantism. In his many journeyings, to Nurnberg, to Brandenburg, and up and down, he had been at Wittenberg too: he saw Luther in person more than once there; corresponded with Luther; in fine believed in the truth of Luther. The Culmbach Brothers were both, at least George ardently was, inclined to Protestantism, as we have seen; but Albert was foremost of the three in this course. Osiander and flights of zealous Culmbach Preachers made many converts in Preussen. In these circumstances the Four Years came to a close.
Albert, we may believe, is greatly at a loss; and deep deliberations, Culmbach, Berlin, Liegnitz, Poland all called in, are held:–a case beyond measure intricate. You have given your word; word must be kept,–and cannot, without plain hurt, or ruin even, to those that took it of you. Withdraw, therefore; fling it up!–Fling it up? A valuable article to fling up; fling it up is the last resource. Nay, in fact, to whom will you fling it up? The Prussian Ritters themselves are getting greatly divided on the point; and at last on all manner of points, Protestantism ever more spreading among them. As for the German Brethren, they and their comfortable Teutschmeister, who refused to partake in the dangerous adventure at all; are they entitled to have much to say in the settlement of it now?–
Among others, or as chief oracle of all, Luther was consulted. “What would you have me do towards reforming the Teutsch Order?” inquired Albert of his oracle. Luther’s answer was, as may be guessed, emphatic. “Luther,” says one reporter, “has in his Writings declared the Order to be ‘a thing serviceable neither to God nor man,’ and the constitution of it ‘a monstrous, frightful, hermaphroditish, neither secular nor spiritual constitution.'” [C. J. Weber,
It is certain, Albert, before long, took this course; Uncle Sigismund and the resident Officials of the Ritterdom having made agreement to it as the one practicable course. The manner as follows: 1. Instead of Elected Hochmeister, let us be Hereditary Duke of Preussen, and pay homage for it to Uncle Sigismund in that character. 2. Such of the resident Officials of the Ritterdom as are prepared to go along with us, we will in like manner constitute permanent Feudal Proprietors of what they now possess as Life-rent, and they shall be Sub-vassals under us as Hereditary Duke. 3. In all which Uncle Sigismund and the Republic of Poland engage to maintain us against the world.
That is, in sum, the Transaction entered into, by King Sigismund I. of Poland, on the one part, and Hochmeister Albert and his Ritter Officials, such as went along with him, (which of course none could do that were not Protestant), on the other part: done at Cracow, 8th April, 1525. [Rentsch, p. 850.–Here, certified by Rentsch, Voigt and others, is a worn-out patch of Paper, which is perhaps worth printing:– 1490, May 17, Albert is born.
1511, February 14, Hochmeister.
1519, December, King Sigismund’s first hostile movements. 1520, October, German Mercenaries arrive. 1520, November, try Siege of Dantzig.
1520, November 17, give it up.
1521, April 10, Truce for Four Years. 1523, June, Albert consults Luther.
1524, November, sees Luther.
1525, April 8, Peace of Cracow, and Albert to be Duke of Prussia.] Whereby Teutsch Ritterdom, the Prussian part of it, vanished from the world; dissolving itself, and its “hermaphrodite constitution,” like a kind of Male Nunnery, as so many female ones had done in those years. A Transaction giving rise to endless criticism, then and afterwards. Transaction plainly not reconcilable with the letter of the law; and liable to have logic chopped upon it to any amount, and to all lengths of time. The Teutschmeister and his German Brethren shrieked murder; the whole world, then, and for long afterwards, had much to say and argue.
To us, now that the logic-chaff is all laid long since, the question is substantial, not formal. If the Teutsch Ritterdom was actually at this time DEAD, actually stumbling about as a mere galvanized Lie beginning to be putrid,–then, sure enough, it behooved that somebody should bury it, to avoid pestilential effects in the neighborhood. Somebody or other;–first flaying the skin off, as was natural, and taking that for his trouble. All turns, in substance, on this latter question! If, again, the Ritterdom was not dead–?
And truly it struggled as hard as Partridge the Almanac- maker to rebut that fatal accusation; complained (Teutschmeister and German-Papist part of it) loudly at the Diets; got Albert and his consorts put to the Ban (GEACHTET), fiercely menaced by the Kaiser Karl V. But nothing came of all that; nothing but noise. Albert maintained his point; Kaiser Karl always found his hands full otherwise, and had nothing but stamped parchments and menaces to fire off at Albert. Teutsch Ritterdom, the Popish part of it, did enjoy its valuable bailliwicks, and very considerable rents in various quarters of Germany and Europe, having lost only Preussen; and walked about, for three centuries more, with money in its pocket, and a solemn white gown with black cross on its back,–the most opulent Social Club in existence, and an excellent place for bestowing younger sons of sixteen quarters. But it was, and continued through so many centuries, in every essential respect, a solemn Hypocrisy; a functionless merely eating Phantasm, of the nature of goblin, hungry ghost or ghoul (of which kind there are many);–till Napoleon finally ordered it to vanish; its time, even as Phantasm, being come.
Albert, I can conjecture, had his own difficulties as Regent in Preussen. [1525-1568.] Protestant Theology, to make matters worse for him, had split itself furiously into ‘DOXIES; and there was an OSIANDERISM (Osiander being the Duke’s chaplain), much flamed upon by the more orthodox ISM. “Foreigners,” too, German-Anspach and other, were ill seen by the native gentlemen; yet sometimes got encouragement. One Funccius, a shining Nurnberg immigrant there, son-in-law of Osiander, who from Theology got into Politics, had at last (1564) to be beheaded,–old Duke Albert himself “bitterly weeping” about him; for it was none of Albert’s doing. Probably his new allodial Ritter gentlemen were not the most submiss, when made hereditary? We can only hope the Duke was a Hohenzollern, and not quite unequal to his task in this respect. A man with high bald brow; magnificent spade-beard; air much- pondering, almost gaunt,–gaunt kind of eyes especially, and a slight cast in them, which adds to his severity of aspect. He kept his possession well, every inch of it; and left all safe at his decease in 1568. His age was then near eighty. It was the tenth year of our Elizabeth as Queen; invincible Armada not yet built; but Alba very busy, cutting off high heads in Brabant; and stirring up the Dutch to such fury as was needful for exploding Spain and him.
This Duke Albert was a profoundly religious man, as all thoughtful men then were. Much given to Theology, to Doctors of Divinity; being eager to know God’s Laws in this Universe, and wholesomely certain of damnation if he should not follow them. Fond of the profane Sciences too, especially of Astronomy: Erasmus Reinhold and his
celebrated; Erasmus Reinhold proclaims gratefully how these his elaborate Tables (done according to the latest discoveries, 1551 and onwards) were executed upon Duke Albert’s high bounty; for which reason they are dedicated to Duke Albert, and called “PRUTENICAE,” meaning PRUSSIAN. [Rentsch, p. 855.] The University of Konigsberg was already founded several years before, in 1544.
Albert had not failed to marry, as Luther counselled: by his first Wife he had only daughters; by his second, one son, Albert Friedrich, who, without opposition or difficulty, succeeded his Father. Thus was Preussen acquired to the Hohenzollern Family; for, before long, the Electoral branch managed to get MITBELEHNUNG (Co-infeftment), that is to say, Eventual Succession; and Preussen became a Family Heritage, as Anspach and Baireuth were.
One word must be spent on poor Albert, Casimir’s son, [1522-1557] already mentioned. This poor Albert, whom they call ALCIBIADES, made a great noise in that epoch; being what some define as the “Failure of a Fritz;” who has really features of him we are to call “Friedrich the Great,” but who burnt away his splendid qualities as a mere temporary shine for the able editors, and never came to anything.
A high and gallant young fellow, left fatherless in childhood; perhaps he came too early into power:–he came, at any rate, in very volcanic times, when Germany was all in convulsion; the Old Religion and the New having at length broken out into open battle, with huge results to be hoped and feared; and the largest game going on, in sight of an adventurous youth. How Albert staked in it; how he played to immense heights of sudden gain, and finally to utter bankruptcy, I cannot explain here: some German delineator of human destinies, “Artist” worth the name, if there were any, might find in him a fine subject.
He was ward of his Uncle George; and the probable fact is, no guardian could have been more faithful. Nevertheless, on approaching the years of majority, of majority but not discretion, he saw good to quarrel with his Uncle; claimed this and that, which was not granted: quarrel lasting for years. Nay matters ran so high at last, it was like to come to war between them, had not George been wiser. The young fellow actually sent a cartel to his Uncle; challenged him to mortal combat,–at which George only wagged his old beard, we suppose, and said nothing. Neighbors interposed, the Diet itself interposed; and the matter was got quenched again. Leaving Albert, let us hope, a repentant young man. We said he was full of fire, too much of it wildfire.
His profession was Arms; he shone much in war; went slashing and fighting through those Schmalkaldic broils, and others of his time; a distinguished captain; cutting his way towards something high, he saw not well what. He had great comradeship with Moritz of Saxony in the wars: two sworn brothers they, and comrades in arms:–it is the same dexterous Moritz, who, himself a Protestant, managed to get his too Protestant Cousin’s Electorate of Saxony into his hand, by luck of the game; the Moritz, too, from whom Albert by and by got his last defeat, giving Moritz his death in return. That was the finale of their comradeship. All things end, and nothing ceases changing till it end.
He was by position originally on the Kaiser’s side; had attained great eminence, and done high feats of arms and generalship in his service. But being a Protestant by creed, he changed after that Schmalkaldic downfall (rout of Muhlberg, 24th April, 1547), which brought Moritz an Electorate, and nearly cost Moritz’s too Protestant Cousin his life as well as lands. [Account of it in De Wette,
This was early in 1552, five years after Muhlberg Rout or Battle. The there victorious Kaiser was now suddenly almost ruined; chased like a partridge into the Innspruck Mountains,–could have been caught, only Moritz would not; “had no cage to hold so big a bird,” he said. So the Treaty of Passau was made, and the Kaiser came much down from his lofty ways. Famed TREATY OF PASSAU (22d August, 1552), which was the finale of these broils, and hushed them up for a Fourscore years to come. That was a memorable year in German Reformation History.
Albert, meanwhile, had been busy in the interior of the country; blazing aloft in Frankenland, his native quarter, with a success that astonished all men. For seven months he was virtually King of Germany; ransomed Bamberg, ransomed Wurzburg, Nurnberg (places he had a grudge at); ransomed all manner of towns and places,– especially rich Bishops and their towns, with VERBUM DIABOLI sticking in them,–at enormous sums. King of the world for a brief season;–must have had some strange thoughts to himself, had they been recorded for us. A pious man, too; not in the least like “Alcibiades,” except in the sudden changes of fortune he underwent. His Motto, or old rhymed Prayer, which he would repeat on getting into the saddle for military work,–a rough rhyme of his own composing,–is still preserved. Let us give it, with an English fac-simile, or roughest mechanical pencil-tracing,–by way of glimpse into the heart of a vanished Time and its Man-at-arms: [Rentsch, p. 644.]
Das Walt der Herr Jesus Christ,
Mit dem Vater, der uber uns ist:
Wer starker ist als dieser Mann,
Der komm und thu’ ein Leid mir an.
Guide it the Lord Jesus Christ, [Read “Chris” or “Chriz,” for the rhyme’s sake.]
And the Father, who over us is:
He that is stronger than that Man, [Sic.] Let him do me a hurt when he can.
He was at the Siege of Metz (end of that same 1552), and a principal figure there. Readers have heard of the Siege of Metz: How Henry II. of France fished up those “Three Bishoprics” (Metz, Toul, Verdun, constituent part of Lorraine, a covetable fraction of Teutschland) from the troubled sea of German things, by aid of Moritz now KUR-SACHSEN, and of Albert; and would not throw them in again, according to bargain, when Peace, the PEACE OF PASSAU came. How Kaiser Karl determined to have them back before the year ended, cost what it might; and Henry II. to keep them, cost what it might. How Guise defended, with all the Chivalry of France; and Kaiser Karl besieged, [19th October, 1552, and onwards.] with an Army of 100,000 men, under Duke Alba for chief captain. Siege protracted into midwinter; and the “sound of his cannon