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Title: Pictures of German Life in the XVth XVIth and XVIIth Centuries,  Vol. I.
Author: Freytag, Gustav, 1816-1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].

                        PICTURES OF GERMAN LIFE

                                 IN THE


                           *   *   *   *   *

                                VOL. I.



                              GERMAN LIFE

                 In the XVth XVIth and XVIIth Centuries.

                             GUSTAV FREYTAG

                    Translated from the Original by
                             MRS. MALCOLM.


                                VOL. I.

                   CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193 PICCADILLY.


                         TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

The great interest which these graphic Pictures of Life in Germany have
created in that country, has induced me to translate them. The object
of the distinguished author seems to have been, to convey a lesson, a
warning, and at the same time an encouragement to his countrymen,
derived from the experience of the past; whilst he demonstrates to
other nations how it is, that a people so superior in intellectual
power, has remained so far behind in social and political development.

I have also felt as an additional reason, that at the present moment,
the British public must take a deep interest in everything connected
with the past, and future, of the country in which the daughter of our
beloved Queen has cast her lot, and which was the Fatherland of the
revered Prince, who has been a source of blessing to England for so
many years, and whose irreparable loss we now so deeply deplore.

                                                GEORGIANA MALCOLM.



Introduction.--Life of a German proprietor, 300, 200, and 100 years
ago--In what respect the life of the past appears alien to us--Greater
repression of the individual mind--Significance of the last four

                               CHAPTER I.

Scenes From The Hussite War (1425)--Emigration of Germans to
the east after the thirteenth century--Silesia and its Sclave
Princes--Colonization, the blessing of free labour recognized--
Character and fate of the German Silesians--Contrast of the
Bohemians--Narrative by Martin von Bolkenhain--Consequences of the
Hussite war and subsequent fate of the Silesians

                              CHAPTER II.

A German Lady Of The Royal Court (1440)--Development of the
popular mind in the Hussite time--Life at Court--The last of
the Luxemburgers--The Hungarian Crown--Narration of Helen
Kottanner--Struggles of conscience in the fifteenth century

                              CHAPTER III.

A Travelling Student (1509)--Characteristics of the fifteenth
century--Introductions in the sixteenth century--Excitement in
the people, wandering propensities, exciting news, Landsknechte,
art of printing--German learning; the Humanitarians--The Latin
schools, the children of the people as scholars--Narrative Of Thomas
Platter--Influence of the Latin schools upon the people

                              CHAPTER IV.

The Mental Struggles of a Youth, and his Entrance into a Monastery
(1510)--The wants of the popular mind--The church--Brotherhoods;
Indulgences--Opposition to them--Narrative Of Friedrich Myconius

                               CHAPTER V.

Out of the Cloister into the Struggle (1522)--The storm among the
people--Luther's popularity--Narration of Ambrosius Blaurer--The knight
from the Wartburg--Narrative of Johann Kessler

                              CHAPTER VI.

Doctor Luther (1517 to 1546)--His importance to us--The tragic in his
life--Distinct periods in it--His father--Mental struggle in the
monastery, and how he delivered himself from it--His character in
1519--Three letters to the Pope--An inward struggle--Luther as a
writer--At the Wartburg--Adherence to Scripture, and defects in his
method--The marriage of priests--Return to Wittenberg--His political
position--The crisis--How he married--Activity of his latter years--His
spirit, his family, his God, his temptations, and ideas of the end of
the world--From the funeral discourse of Melancthon--Letter of Luther
to the Elector Friedrich the Wise, March, 1522

                              CHAPTER VII.

German Princes At The Imperial Diet (1547)--Luther and Charles
V.--The Roman Empire--Possibility of a new confirmation--The man
wanting--Princes of the sixteenth century--Charles V.--Narrative of
Bartholomäus Sastrow--Weakness of the Imperial power--Alliance of the
German opposition with France--Internal disorganization of the empire

                             CHAPTER VIII.

A Burgher Family (1488)--Insight into the lower circles of German
life--Increasing popular strength--Social superiority of the Protestant
provinces (1542)--Insecurity of life--Family History Of Bartholomäus

                              CHAPTER IX.

The Marriage and Housekeeping of a Young Student (1557)--The female sex
among the Germans--Position of women in the middle ages--Marriage
considered as an alliance between families--The betrothal--Narrative of
Felix Platter

                               CHAPTER X.

Of a Patrician House (1526 to 1598)--The patricians rich and
educated--Hans Schweinichen's account of the riches of the
Fuggers--Their women--Clara Pirkheimer and Argula von Grumbach--Letters
of a Lady of the Glauburg Family

                              CHAPTER XI.

German Nobility In The Sixteenth Century (1500)--False position
in the nation--Unproductiveness--Gradual change--Character of Götz
von Berlichingen--Extract from his Autobiography--Character of
Schärtlin--Narrative Of Schärtlin--Hans von Schweinichen and Duke
Heinrich von Liegnitz--Narrative Of Schweinichen--Transition to modern

                              CHAPTER XII.

German Ideas of the Devil in the Sixteenth Century (1500)--The
introduction of German traditions concerning him; change in the middle
ages--Luther spiritualizes the ideas regarding the devil--Activity of
the devil in the new Church--Compacts with the devil after Luther's
time--Favourable position of the possessed--The money devil at
Frankfort--Satan exorcised from one possessed--Witches--Dreadful
persecutions--Gloomy state of men's minds at the end of the sixteenth


To my dear Friend Solomon Hertzel.

Without your knowledge I dedicate this work to you, who have taken so
kind an interest in it, whose excellent library has so often helped
when other sources failed, and where, as industrious collectors, we
have examined so many old flying sheets and manuscripts.

To you also these records of the olden times, in which the private life
and feelings of the writers are portrayed, are especially valuable, for
by them a clear light is thrown on events in our political history
which till now have been only occasionally noticed, and we may discover
from them how the German people have felt, suffered, and lived.

If these records of individuals can be judiciously arranged according
to periods and their position in life, it appears to me that an
instructive insight may be obtained into the gradual development of the
mind of the German people.

I have endeavoured to carry this out from the middle ages to the
beginning of the present era.

What I have added of my own is simple explanation: I have avoided
saying anything where it could be given in the original; only where the
old records fail to give a complete picture have I supplied the

As there are very few who can read the language of the fifteenth, or
even the seventeenth, century with ease, I have thought it necessary to
translate the records into modern German, but at the same time to
preserve something of the old style.

Accept kindly then, my friend, what of right belongs to you, for your
flag waves on every vessel that I launch; and I trust that the freight
that I have this time prepared, may meet with your hearty approbation.

                                             GUSTAV FREYTAG.

_Siebleben, 8th October_, 1859.


In vain does the German seek for "the good old times." If even the
pious zealot who condemns Hegel and Humboldt as the greatest of
Atheists, or the conservative proprietor who is struggling for the
privileges of his order, were to be thrown back into one of the last
centuries, he would feel first unmitigated astonishment, then horror,
at the position in which he would find himself placed. What now appears
to him so desirable would make him miserable, and he would be driven to
despair at the loss of all the advantages of that civilization which he
at present so little appreciates.

Let a German proprietor endeavour to realize to himself the position
of one of his ancestors in the year 1559. Instead of the house he
has now, built in the old German style, surrounded by its English
pleasure-grounds, he would find himself shut up in a gloomy, dirty, and
comfortless building, placed either on a height destitute of water, and
exposed to the cutting blasts of the wind, or else surrounded by the
f[oe]tid smells of stagnant ditches. It is true that three generations
back dim panes had been added to the small windows,[1] and large stoves
of Dutch tiles, which were fed with logs from the neighbouring forest,
kept the cold out of the sitting-rooms; but the accommodation was
limited, as it was occasionally necessary to defend the house against
attacks from the citizens of the nearest town, roving bands of
marauders, or reckless soldiers bent on revenge because they had been
cheated of half their pay by the neighbouring prince.

Comfortless and dirty is the house, for it is occupied by many others
beside the family of the owner: younger brothers and cousins, with
their wives and children, numberless servants, amongst them many of
doubtful character, men-at-arms, labourers, and in 1559, mercenaries,
may be added. In the court-yard, from the dung-heap is heard the cry of
children quarrelling, and from round the kitchen fire the no less
inharmonious sound of wrangling women. The children of the house grow
up amongst horses, dogs, and servants; they receive scanty instruction
in the village school; the boys keep the geese[2] and poultry for their
mother, or they go with the village people to the wood to collect wild
pears and mushrooms, which are dried for the winter meal; the lady of
the castle is housekeeper, head cook, and doctor of the establishment,
and is well accustomed to intercourse with lawless men and to the
ill-treatment of her drunken husband. She is faithful, a thorough
manager, proud of her escutcheon, of the gold chains and brocades
belonging to the family; she looks suspiciously on the dress and finery
of the wives of the counsellors of the town, who she considers have no
right to wear sable and ermine, velvet dresses, pearls in their hair,
and precious stones round their necks. The love and tenderness of her
nature frequently gave elevation to her countenance and manners; but in
those days, both in the homes of the nobles and in the courts of
princes, much was considered decorous and was permitted to women of the
highest character in familiar conversation which now would be condemned
as unseemly in the wife of a common labourer.

The daily life of the landed proprietor is one of idleness or wild
excitement. The hunting is certainly excellent. Where the forest has
not been laid waste by the reckless stroke of the axe, grow the stately
trees of the primeval wood; the howl of the wolf is still heard in the
winter nights; the hunters sally forth on horseback, with spear and
cross-bow, against beasts of prey, stags, roedeer, and the wild boar,
and all adopt the habits of the rough hunters. But whilst hunting, even
in his own wood, every one must be provided with weapons against other
foes than the wolf and the boar. There are few hunting-grounds
concerning which there is not some quarrel with a neighbour or feudal
lord, who often claims the right of following the chase up to the
squire's castle; the squire is also set at defiance by the peasants of
the nearest village, whose crops have been laid waste by the stag and
the boar, and who hates the master of the castle for having beaten or
thrown him into prison for crossing the path of the chase; and not
unfrequently an arrow whistles through the darkness of the wood with
other aim than a wild animal; or an armed band breaks through a
clearing, and then begins a race for freedom and life. We will suppose
the game to be brought home and cut up in the castle yard; then follows
the banquet, with endless drinking of healths and wild revelry, and
seldom a night passes without the whole party breaking up in a state of
intoxication. Drunkenness was at this time a national evil, prostrating
alike the powers of princes, nobles, and people. The guests at the hunt
and the banquet are of the same rank as their host--some are old
cavaliers, constantly swearing, and relating anecdotes of the knightly
feats they have performed in the greenwood against the traders and
townspeople; others a younger race, hangers-on of the great feudal
lords, who proudly wear the gold-laced caps given by these lords to
their vassals.

Thus the week passes away. On Sunday it is considered a duty to attend
the village church, and listen to the preacher's endless sermon, which
generally breathes hatred to Calvinists or Papists, and denounces the
factious Schwenkfeld or the apostate Melancthon. There is but little
intercourse with foreign countries: the country gentleman gratifies his
curiosity by buying from the itinerant pedler what was then called a
newspaper, being a few quarto sheets published at intervals in the
towns, containing very doubtful intelligence, such as a horrible fight
having taken place between the sons of the Turkish sultan, a young
maiden being possessed by the devil, or the French king having been
struck on the head by one of his nobles. Sometimes the young squire
listens to the songs of ballad singers, who recite similar news to old
popular tunes, or, what is still more welcome, satirical verses on some
neighbour, which the singer has been paid to propagate far and wide
through the country. The reading which gives most pleasure at home, is
either some astrological absurdity, such as a prophecy of old Wilhelm
Friese or Gottfried Phyllers, or a description of the funeral festival
of the Emperor Charles V. at Augsburg; besides these, theological
writings find their way into the castle.

This life, which in spite of all its excitement is so meagre and
monotonous, is sometimes varied by the discovery of a murdered man in
the fields, or by some old woman of the village being accused of
witchcraft. These incidents give rise to judicial proceedings, in the
first case tardy and of little interest, in the latter fierce and

There are other annoyances in these times from which the landed
proprietor is seldom free,--lawsuits and many difficulties. His father
had sought to obtain money for the payment of his debts on the highway
in his breastplate and saddle, and thus revenged himself for his
injured rights. But now a new age has begun, and law asserts its
supremacy over the self-will and independence of individuals; it is
however an uncertain, dilatory, distorted law, which overlooks the
powerful, and too often favours the wealthy. The young squire still
rides his charger, armed with lance and pistol, but he is no longer
eager to obtain fame and booty in war. The foot-soldier with pike and
musket, and light-horseman of the town have outstripped him. Even at
the tournament he prefers running at the ring; and if perchance he
should encounter in the lists any person of distinction, he finds it
more advantageous to allow himself to be unhorsed, than to contend

The condition of his peasantry is wretched: they have sunk from freemen
to slaves; the rent they have to pay in labour, corn, and money,
swallows up their earnings, yet he benefits little by it. The roads
being bad and unsafe, it is impossible to export his produce: he is
just able to keep himself and his household, for his income is small;
everything has become dear; the new gold which has been brought to
Europe from America is amassed in the great commercial towns, and is of
little advantage to him, and he is unable to maintain the state
suitable to his position.

He holds obstinately to all he considers his right, and supports or
resists his feudal lord according to his personal advantage;
occasionally he follows him to the Imperial Diet. But in the Provincial
States, he eagerly resists the impost of new taxes; he has no real love
of his country, and only feels himself German in opposition to Italians
and Spaniards, whom he hates; but looks with a selfish interest on
France, whose King burns cursed Calvinists and engages German Lutherans
at high salaries. The province in which he lives has no political
unity; the sovereignty of his feudal lord is no longer a firm edifice,
and his attachment is therefore only occasional. His egotism alone is
firm and lasting, a miserable hateful egotism, which has scarce power
to excite him to deeds of daring, not even to bind him to others of his
own class. Rarely does the feeling of his own social position ennoble
his conversation or actions; his education and knowledge of the world
are not greater than those of a horsedealer of the present day.

A century has passed, it is the year 1659--ten years since the
conclusion of the great German war. The walls of the old castles have
been shattered, foreign soldiers have encamped within them, whose fires
have blackened the ruins, and whose fury has emptied the granaries and
destroyed all the household goods. The squire has now erected a new
building with the stones of the old one; it is a bare house, with thick
walls, and without ornament; the windows look on a miserable village,
which is only partly built, and on a field which, for the first time
for many years, is prepared for cultivation; the flock of sheep has
been replenished, but there are no horses, and the peasants have
learned to plough with oxen. The owner of the house has no longer to
provide for the horses of troopers and knights; a coach stands in a
hovel,--a kind of lumbering chest on leather straps, but nevertheless
the pride of the family. The house is surrounded by walls and moats
with drawbridges; massive locks and strong iron work defend the
entrances, for the country is still insecure. Gipsies and bands of
marauders lurk in the neighbourhood, and the daily conversation is of
robberies and horrible murders. There is great regularity both in house
and village, and strict order is kept by the squire amongst his
children, servants, and retainers; but many wild figures may be still
seen about the court-yard,--disbanded soldiers who have taken service
as messengers, foresters, halberdiers, &c. The village school is in sad
decay, but the squire's children receive instruction from a poor
scholar. The squire wears a wig with flowing curls; instead of the
knightly sword, a slender rapier hangs at his side; in society his
movements and conversation are stiff and formal; the townspeople call
him your honour, and his daughter has become "fraulein" and
"damoiselle;" the lady of the house wears a bunch of keys at her side;
she is great in receipts and superstitious remedies, and her repose is
troubled by ghostly apparitions in the old tower of the castle. When a
visitor approaches, the spinning-wheel is hidden, an embroidered dress
is quickly put on, the scanty family treasures of silver goblets and
tankards laid out on the sideboard, a groom, who is just capable of
making a bow, is hastily put into livery, and perfumes are burnt in
the room. The young squire when he visits appears as a gallant à la
mode,--in lace coat and wig, and pays the most fulsome compliments to
the lady of the house; he is her most devoted slave, he extols the
daughter as a heart-enslaver, and declares that she is quite angelic in
her appearance; but these finely turned compliments are bad sauce to
coarse manners, and are generally interspersed with stable language and
oaths. When conversation begins to flow more freely, it is directed by
preference to subjects which are no longer ambiguous, and women listen,
not with the naïveté of former times, but with secret pleasure, to the
boldness of such language, for it is the fashion to relate improper
anecdotes, and by enigmatical questions to produce a pretty affected
embarrassment in the ladies. But even such conversation soon wearies,
and the wine begins to circulate, the hilarity becomes noisy, and they
finish by getting very drunk, after the old German fashion. They smoke
clay pipes, and cavaliers of high breeding take snuff from silver
boxes. The chase is again the amusement of the country gentleman: he
tries to exterminate the wolves, which during the late war have become
numerous and insolent; he exhibits rifles among his hunting gear, but
no longer mounts his steed as an armed knight; his armour is rusty, his
independence is gone, war is carried on by the soldiers of the Prince,
and he appears at court only as the obsequious servant of his
illustrious lord.

He is still firm in his faith, and adheres to the rites of the Church;
but he holds in contempt the theological controversies of the clergy,
and does not object to holding intercourse with unbelievers, though he
prefers Jesuits to zealous sectarians. The pastor of his village is
poor and devout, and from living amongst lawless men, has lost much of
his priestly pride; he strives to support himself by agriculture, and
considers it an honour to dine at the squire's table, and has in return
to laugh at his patron's jokes, and retail the news of the day. When it
is a fête day at the castle he presents a pompous poem, in which he
calls on Venus, the Muses and Graces, to celebrate in Olympus the
birthday of the lady of the house. On such days there is music at the
castle, and the viola da gamba is the fashionable instrument. Once a
week the newspaper is brought to the castle, from thence it is sent to
the parsonage, then to the schoolmaster and forester: the chief reading
besides this consists of tedious novels and histories of adventures, or
anecdotes of ghostly apparitions and discoveries of treasure; sometimes
also dissertations on the phenomena of nature, the first glimmering of
a more intellectual literature. The squire interests himself in
politics; he distrusts Sweden, and abhors the regicide tendencies of
England, but admires everything French, and whosoever can give him news
of Paris is a welcome guest. He attends the Diet, but it is only for
the sake of maintaining the privileges of his order; he lounges in
antechambers, and by bribery endeavours to secure for his relations
some appointment about the court. He unwillingly allows his son to
study law, with the hope that he may, as royal counsellor, advance the
interests of his family; in short, he looks upon the court and the
government as wine vats to be tapped, so as to afford him a good
draught. Germany is to him a mere geographical spot, which he neither
loves nor hates; his family or his order are all that he serves or
cares for, and if one abstracts from him his high pretensions, and
compares the remains of the kernel with the men of our own time, we
should find more sense and rectitude in the stubborn head of a
corporation of the smallest town than in him.

Again a century has passed, a time of little energy or national
strength, and yet great changes have taken place. The year 1759 is in
the youth of our grandfathers; numberless remembrances cling to our
hearts; it will be sufficient to recall a few. The squire's house has
no longer a bare front: a porch has been added, supported by stone
pillars; the staircase is ornamented with vases; over the hall door a
rudely carved angel holds the family arms emblazoned on a spiral shell.
On one side of the building lies the farm-yard, on the other the
garden, laid out with trim beech hedges and obelisks of yew. The old
whitewashed walls are almost all covered with plaster-of-paris, and
some are highly ornamented. There is an abundance of household
furniture beautifully carved in oak or walnut; near the ancient family
portraits hang modern pastil pictures, amongst them perhaps the
daughter of the house as a shepherdess with a crook in her hand. In the
apartments of the lady of the house there is a porcelain table with
coloured tankards, small cups, pug-dogs, and Cupids of this newly
discovered material. Propriety reigns everywhere with a strict stern
rule; women and servants speak low, children kiss their parents' hands,
the master of the house calls his wife "ma chère," and uses other
French phrases. The hair is powdered, and the ladies wear stiff gowns
and high head-dresses; violent emotions or strong passions seldom
disturb the stiff formality of their carriage or the tranquillity of
the house.

The squire has become economist, and looks a little after the farming;
he tries by selecting choice breeds to improve the wool of his flocks,
and raises carefully the new bulb called the potato, which is to be a
source of unfailing nourishment to man and beast. The mode of life is
quiet, simple, and formal. The mother shakes her head about Gellert's
'Life of the Swedish Countess;' the daughter is delighted with Kleist's
'Spring,' and sings to the harpsichord of violets and lambs; and the
father carries in his pocket the 'Songs of a Grenadier.' Coffee is
placed before the visitors, and on high holidays chocolate makes its
appearance. Everything is managed by government officials, and much is
required of the country gentleman, who has to pay taxes without being
consulted: he is a person of more consideration than the citizen, but
is now far removed from the prince. The great noble looks with
contempt on him, and it is well for him if he does not feel the
weight of his stick: the officials of the capital interfere with his
farming; they order him to dig a drain, to build a mill, even to plant
mulberry-trees, and send him the eggs of silkworms, insisting upon his
rearing them. It is a weary time; the third, or Seven years', war is
raging between the king and emperor; the squire is walking about his
room, wringing his hands and weeping. How is it that this hard man has
so completely lost his composure? The letter on the table has informed
him that his son, an officer in the king's army, has come unscathed out
of the fight at Cunnersdorf; why then does he weep and wring his hands?
His King is in distress; the state to which he belongs is in danger of
destruction, and it is for this that he grieves. He is greater, richer,
and better than any of his ancestors, for he has a fatherland; the
training of his generation is rough, manners coarse, and government
despotic; his knowledge of the world is not greater than that of a
subordinate official of the present day, but this feeling within him,
either in life or death, makes him a man.

Life in every period of the German past was much rougher than now; but
it is not the hardships of individuals which make the old time appear
so strange to us, it is that the whole mode of life, in every thought
and feeling, is so essentially different. The reason of this difference
is, that at all periods of the past the mind of the individual was less
free and more subordinate to the spirit of the nation; we may see this
especially in the middle ages, but it may still be observed in the last

There was no such thing as public opinion. The individual submitted his
conscience to the approbation of those with whom he lived; he committed
to them his honour, interests, and safety, and only felt that he
existed as a member of the society, thus rendering the necessity of
union more urgent. How strikingly this tendency of the old times was
exemplified in the clubs of Hanseatic stations! The constraint within
their closed walls was almost monkish. Every word and gesture at the
dinner-table was regulated, and this rule was maintained by severe
punishments. The soldiers who roamed about together in troops from all
parts of Germany, made laws for themselves, by which they kept the
strictest discipline, each being accuser and judge of the other. Upon a
sea voyage the passengers selected from amongst themselves a
magistrate, judge, and police-officer, who declared the law, imposed
fines, and awarded even bodily punishment; and if at the conclusion of
the journey any individual wished to free himself from this control, he
had to take an oath that he would not revenge himself for any annoyance
or injury he might have suffered under the ship's law; and it was the
same with pilgrimages to the Holy Land, especially where it was
question of any dangerous enterprise. For instance, when, in the year
1535, five-and-twenty men from Amberg undertook to explore the cavern
of the "awful" mountains, their first act at the entrance to the
caverns was to choose two leaders, and take an oath of obedience to
stand by one another in life or death.

The same feature is to be found amongst the artists of the middle ages:
thus did the life of individuals first find its full expression, in
association with others.

One peculiar charm which we find in the national character of those
early ages, is the union of a strong love of freedom with a spirit of
obedience. To this characteristic of the old times may be added
another. All, from the emperor to the wandering beggar, from their
birth to their death, from morning till night, were fenced in by
customs, forms, and ceremonies. A wonderful creative genius produced
endless pictures and symbols, by which everything on earth was
idealized. By these means was expressed the way in which the people
understood their relations with God, and the right direction of all
human energy; there were also many mysterious rituals which served as
means of defence against the supposed influence of unearthly powers.
Even in law mimic and figurative proceedings were laid down. Whoever
sought revenge before a court of justice for the murder of a relative,
had everything as to garments and gestures, the very words of the
accusation, and even their complaints, prescribed to them. Every
transfer of property, every investiture and contract, had its
significant forms and precise words, on which its legality depended.
The knights were summoned to the lists by the herald; the bride was
claimed and the guests invited to the wedding by fixed forms of speech;
it was considered of importance which foot was placed first on the
ground in the morning, which shoe was first put on, and what stranger
was first met on going out; also, how the bread was laid on the table
at each meal, and where the salt-cellar was placed. All that concerned
the body, the cutting of the hair, baths, and bleeding, had their
appointed time and appropriate regulations. When the agriculturist
turned up the first clod, when he brought in the last sheaf, leaving a
truss of corn in the field, in short, all the incidents of labour had
their peculiar usages; there were customs for every important day of
the year, and they abounded at every festival. Many relics of these
remain to our day; we maintain some for our amusement, but most of them
appear to us useless, senseless, and superstitious.

Many of these practices had been derived in Germany from the heathen
faith and ancient laws and customs. The Church of the middle ages
followed in the same track, idealizing life. The services became more
frequent, the ceremonials more artificial. In the same way that it had
sanctified the great epochs of life by the mystery of its sacraments,
it tried, rivalling the heathen traditions, to influence even the
trifling actions of every-day life. It consecrated fountains and
animals, and professed that it could stop the effusion of blood and
turn away the enemy's shot by its blessing. Its endeavours to make the
spiritual perceptible to the senses of the multitude, produced many
proverbs and symbolical actings, which gave rise to the dramas of the
middle ages. But whilst it thus met the imaginative tendencies of the
people, its own spiritual and moral character was injured by all these
outward observances; and when Luther accused the Church of thirty-seven
errors, from the sale of indulgences, to the consecrated salt, and the
baptism of bells with their two hundred godfathers, he was not in a
position to perceive that the old Church had given growth to these
excrescences, by having yielded too much to the imaginative disposition
of the German popular mind.

The artisans liked to reproduce the formulas of their religion and
guilds for their amusement: dialogue and gesture were interchanged, and
thus dramatic representations arose. The initiated and best informed of
every class became known by this; they had an opportunity of showing
their nature under the traditional form. In such a way every young
nation tries to represent life, and among the Germans, this
inclination, together with the love of mystery, worked most powerfully
in the same direction. It gave much opportunity for dramatic acting,
though it was a peculiarly undramatic period in the life of the people,
for words and characteristic gestures do not flow from the inward man;
they come with imposing power from external circumstances, leading,
forming, and restraining the individual.

Such union of order and discipline belongs to the epic time of the

How the German mind outgrew these bonds we shall learn from the
following stories of the olden time. In the course of four centuries
the great change was accomplished--a powerful action of the mind
brought freedom in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and a fearful
political catastrophe brought destruction in the seventeenth.[3] After
a long deathlike sleep the modern spirit of the people awoke in the
eighteenth century.

                        PICTURES OF GERMAN LIFE.

                               CHAPTER I.

                      SCENES FROM THE HUSSITE WAR.
                             (about 1425.)

Among the events of the thirteenth century, the wonderfully rapid
colonization of the Sclave country east of the Elbe has never been
sufficiently appreciated. In the course of one century a numerous body
of German emigrants of all classes, almost as many as now go to
America, spread themselves over a large tract of country, established
hundreds of cities and villages, and united it for the most part firmly
to Germany. Nearly the whole of the eastern part of Prussia extends
over a portion of the territory that was thus colonized.

The time however of this outpouring of national strength was not the
heroic period of Germany. The enthusiasm of the Crusades, the splendour
of the Hohenstaufen, the short reign of German chivalry, and the
greatest elevation of German art, were at the end of the twelfth and
beginning of the thirteenth century, whereas the colonization of the
Sclave frontier was carried on with most energy towards the close of
it. This was the period when Neumark and Prussia were conquered, and
Lausitz, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Rugen, and Silesia colonized. But
there was a striking difference in the case of Silesia; for whilst in
the other Sclave countries the people were crushed by the iron hand of
the conqueror, and were compelled to adopt German habits of life,
Silesia became the centre of a quiet, peaceful colonization, which
spread itself far and wide over, the frontier towards the east.

How powerful a passion the love of wandering became in the German
people at this period, is a point we will not attempt to enter upon.
The expeditions of the Hohenstaufens into Italy, and still more the
Crusades, had roused and excited the masses, who became restless and
eager for foreign adventure; and the life of the peaceful labourer in
Germany was full of danger, indeed almost insupportable. Pious monks,
enterprising nobles, even princely brides were to be seen knocking at
the doors of their peasantry, and trying to induce the young labourers
to follow them to Poland. But little is known concerning this
emigration; we do not even know from what province the great stream of
Silesian wanderers flowed. There are grounds for thinking that most of
them came from Magdeburg, Thuringia, and perhaps Franconia. There is no
mention of it in the ancient manuscripts or chronicles; the only
evidence concerning it might perhaps be found in the Silesian and
Thuringian dialects, but even these have not been sufficiently
investigated. We have however more knowledge as to who invited the
Germans into the country of the Oder. It was the Sclavonian dukes of
the Piasten family, who were then rulers of the country.

At the end of the twelfth century a race of ancient Polish princes
resided on their paternal inheritance in Silesia; inferior to these
were numerous Sclave nobles, and below them again a much oppressed and
enslaved people. The country was thinly populated, and poor both in
capital and labour. The heights of the Riesenberge and the plains of
the Oder were clothed with wood; between them stretched out miles of
desolate heath. Herds of wild boars laired in the swamps, bears picked
the wild honey from the hollow trunks of the trees, and the elks fed on
the branches of the pine; the beaver made its home beside the rivers,
the fish eagle hovered about the ponds, and above him soared the noble
falcon. The beaver and falcon were more valuable in the eyes of the
princes than their serfs. The peasants looked from their miserable huts
with horror on the lords of the water and air, for the preservation of
which they had to pay exorbitant penalties. What the earth yielded
freely they had to collect for their rigorous masters and the Church.
They had to pay tribute from the water and the heath of fish and honey,
and heavy imposts on their arable land, sheaves of corn, grain and
money; and a certain amount of service was required of them. The
greater part were serfs; few were free. And not only the peasants, but
also the artisans and tradesmen of all kinds lived in every gradation
of servitude, ground down by oppression without hope or pleasure in
their work. The Sclave cities only differed from the villages in being
a larger collection of bare huts, surrounded by a moat and wooden
palisades, and usually situated in the vicinity of a nobleman's castle,
under whose protection they lived. In peaceable times markets were held
in the towns. Even till the end of the twelfth century the merchants
often made their payments, as in Poland, with the tails of martins and
skins of squirrels instead of money. But the Silesian mines were
already being worked; they yielded silver and gold, copper and lead,
and mining, which was considered the nobleman's right, was carried on
actively. Mints were erected in all the great market towns, and, as in
Poland, the coinage was changed three times a year; and the princes
derived some of their income from tolls on the market-places, butchers'
stalls, and public-houses.

Such was the country that was then ruled by the royal Piasten families
under the Polish sovereignty, which, however, was often disputed, and
sometimes entirely thrown off. A great dissimilarity might however be
discerned in the different branches of the family. The Piastens of
Upper Silesia united themselves closely with Poland, and kept up the
Sclave habits in their country, so that even at the present day a
Sclave population is to be found there; but the rulers of Lower Silesia
adhered to the Germans. It was their policy to marry the daughters of
the German princes: they set the highest value upon everything German,
and German manners were introduced into the court; their children were
sent to travel in Germany, and often brought up there, so that in the
beginning of the thirteenth century, the Piasten family was held in
great consideration throughout that country; they sought for knighthood
from their relations in the west, and out of courtesy to them dressed
their followers in their colours. They knighted their own nobles with
the German straight sword, instead of using the crooked Sclave sabre;
they preferred getting drunk on malmsey and Rhine wines, instead of the
old mead. The German dances were in great request among the ladies of
the court.

In this way a numerous German nobility was established in the country,
for these courtiers or adventurers and their relations soon became
landed proprietors, and the Sclavonian institution of the Castellan was
replaced by the German feudal tenure. But an influx of priests and
monks tended still more to the promotion of German habits; a stream of
them poured incessantly from the west into the half-civilized country.
Monasteries, cloisters, and other pious establishments sprang up
rapidly, and became as it were the strongholds of German life; for the
brotherhoods of the west sent their best and most distinguished
members, and continued to furnish them with learning, books, and
spiritual energy. The princes, nobles, and clergy soon became aware of
the difference between German and Sclave labour; under the latter,
large tracts of country yielded little produce, except wood from the
forest and honey from the heath. The landed proprietors therefore, with
due regard to their own interests, introduced everywhere German labour.
Thus in Silesia the great truth first dawned upon men, on which rests
the whole system of modern life, that the labour of free men, can alone
give stability to a nation and make it powerful and prosperous. The
landed proprietors gave up the greater part of the claims which,
according to the Polish law, they had upon men who dwelt on their
property, and which were so exorbitant that they derived but little
benefit from them. The princes granted the inhabitants as a favour, the
right of founding cities and villages in accordance with German law,
that is to say, free communities, and this privilege was eagerly sought
after, especially by the ecclesiastical bodies, such as Cistertians,
Augustines, &c.

A regular method was pursued in founding these communities; but the
fate of the villages was very different from that of the cities in the
latter part of the middle ages. In the cities, as the body politic
continually gained fresh strength, their rights and independence
increased; the burgesses acquired by purchase the mayoralty, with its
rights and jurisdiction; whilst, on the other hand, the villages were
unable to protect themselves from the exactions of the landed
proprietors and the burdens laid upon them by their princes; they lost
much of their freedom, and many rights they had possessed at their
foundation in the thirteenth century were only restored to them in the
beginning of this present one.

It was thus that after the beginning of the thirteenth century a new
German race sprang up with a surprising rapidity, bordering on the
Oder, between the Reisenberge and the plains of Poland. The emigration
continued for a considerable period, and the quiet struggle between the
German and Polish races lasted long after the former had gained the
predominance; indeed, in some districts it has not yet ceased. But for
the most part the pliant Sclave race of Silesia peaceably adopted the
new customs, as it was very advantageous to put themselves under German
law. And thus the new race showed in its dialect, manners, and
education a new phase of the German popular character which one may
perceive has arisen from the union of the German and Sclave races.

The people who thus sprang up were not destined to an easy life, and it
required all the excitability they derived from the Sclaves, together
with the higher capacity they inherited from the Germans, to preserve
them from annihilation. Driven in like a wedge between Bohemia and
Poland quite to the vicinity of Hungary, they contended with all these
nations, dispensing blows and receiving them from their stronger
neighbours. They were never able to attain to the independence of a
united people. However strong particular communities and confederations
became when it was a question of external enemies, the Silesians were
almost always divided.

In the fifteenth century the country was visited by that terrible
scourge the Hussite war. It is in that fearful time, when the fanatical
warriors of the chalice burnt the Silesian villages and cloisters, and
threw everything ecclesiastical into the flames, when the land was
devastated for nearly a century by the horrors of war, that the
peculiar Silesian character may be traced in contradistinction to that
of the races dwelling in the adjoining country.

Whilst in the regions adjoining the Oder, and still farther off by the
shores of the Baltic, the German race, proud of their recent conquest
over the Sclaves, desired to improve themselves by union with Germany,
a great Sclave population had arisen in the middle of the German
states, the toughest and most stable of all that family: it was firmly
incorporated in the Empire, and had long been under the influence of
German culture. Prague in the beginning of the fifteenth century might
have passed for a German city, for not only in its laws and commerce,
but also in science and art it exhibited all the vigour and
independence of German life. About 1289 the King of Bohemia rode as a
German elector to the election of the Emperor, and waved the golden
glass at the coronation; the Bohemian minstrels and chroniclers wrote
in the Swabian language and style, and Bohemian artists painted
pictures of saints and windows for the German churches. Under the
Luxemburgers Bohemia became the centre of the empire. The Bohemian
throne was adorned with the German Imperial eagle and crown, and the
flower of Germany's youth flocked to the many-turreted Moldavian city,
in order to win in the first German university a nobler patent of
nobility than the sword could give. It seemed then for a considerable
period as if this fine compact Sclave country, lying with its mountain
ramparts in the midst of Germany like a gigantic fortress, was likely
to become the kernel of a great united empire, spreading far beyond the
Rhine on the west, and to the Vistula on the east, or even perhaps to
the swamps of the Theis. But just at this time an energetic reaction of
Sclave popular feeling was roused in Bohemia against the Germans, and a
long struggle ensued which fearfully shook the political, religious,
and social life of Germany, rent the unity of the Roman Catholic
Church, weakened the empire and threw it into confusion, depopulated
large districts by a war full of cruelty, and amidst the flames of
burning cities and the waning of millions, gave the death-blow to the
Holy Roman Empire of the middle ages. It was the peculiar destiny of
Germany that this great struggle should first break out among the
teachers and scholars in the halls of the universities, and that the
funeral pile of a Bohemian professor should give a new direction to the
policy of German princes and people.

The auto-da-fé of Huss did not appear to the Germans a very striking or
blamable occurrence; people in those days were hastily condemned to
death, and there hardly passed a year that the torch was not laid to
the stake in every large city. However great the grief and indignation
of the national party of Bohemia might be at these proceedings, the
wild fanaticism of the people was first roused by another, and greater
crime of the reckless Emperor Sigismund, who, at the head of the
orthodox German fanatics, began the strife by the great massacre in
1420; this outrage gave the Bohemians the strength of despair, and was
the beginning of the wars which raged between the Germans and the
Sclaves to the end of that century. Even after dissensions had broken
out amongst the Bohemians themselves, and after the death of Georg von
Podiebrad, feuds continued, and predatory bands spread themselves over
the neighbouring lands, the people and nobility of Bohemia as well as
those of the suffering frontier lands became lawless, and a hatred of
races, less passionate but more savage and more enduring, took the
place of fanaticism.

No land suffered more from the terrors of the Hussite time than
Silesia, and it must be confessed that the Silesians showed to less
advantage in this century than at any other period of their history; by
the division of their country they were politically weak, and quite
unfitted to withstand by their own strength the attacks of powerful
enemies; when danger approached a feeling of the helplessness of their
position came over them and disheartened them; but whenever they could
breathe more freely, they became overbearing and full of high-flown
plans which generally ended in nothing. As neighbours they were bitter
enemies of the Bohemians, and from hatred to them, zealous in their
orthodoxy; they were actively engaged in the first disgraceful
devastation of Bohemia, and thus, by breach of faith, brought down on
themselves the vengeance of the Bohemians. As in the Roman time the
truth of a Carthaginian was a byword, so now in Silesia was that of a
Bohemian; but the Silesians had no right to reproach the Bohemians with
breach of faith. Their dangerous position did not make them more
careful, and they allowed their possessions and cities to be destroyed
from the want of timely succour; they were always irritating their
enemies and causing fresh attacks by their insolent witticisms and
small perfidies. Their vigour and elasticity, however, were most
enduring; as often as the Bohemians burnt down their cities and
villages, they rebuilt them, and patched up whatever would hold
together; they never tired of irritating the heretical Girsik, as they
called Georg von Podiebrad.[4] If, however, they were in need of his
assistance, they tried to appease him by a present of a hundred oxen.
After a time, however, their hatred became more manly; they took up
arms and fought him valiantly; and when at last he sank into the grave,
they had the satisfaction of feeling that they had embittered the life
and thwarted the ambitious plans of this determined character by their
perpetual opposition.

It is the beginning of this unhappy period which is described in the
following narrative. It is taken from the report of a merchant in
Bolkenhain,[5] named Martin, the fragment of his notes which we
possess, published by Heinrick Hoffman (in Scriptores rerum Lusaticarum
I., 1839).

"In the year of our Lord 1425, the Hussites appeared one Saturday
evening before the town of Wünschelburg. On Sunday, about the time of
vespers, they made breaches in the walls, and by their overwhelming
force gained an entrance. The people flew to the house of the mayor,[6]
which was a high stone building. When all the men and women had arrived
there, they set fire to the city from the mayor's house, and thought
thereby to save themselves; but the Bohemians waited till the fire had
burnt out, then rushed in a powerful body against the stone house,
endeavouring to storm and undermine it. Then followed a parley: the
mayor let himself down to the Hussites by means of a coarse tilt,[7]
that he might negotiate with them whether the citizens should be
allowed to go free. He was so long absent in the town that the people
began greatly to fear, especially the pastor of the town, who was
godfather to the mayor; he called out to them, asking whether the mayor
was still below, requiring him to show and report himself, and come
back to them; whereupon the mayor returned to the house and was again
drawn up. When he had come up, his godfather the pastor asked how it
had gone with him, and whether he had obtained from the enemy freedom
for himself and his chaplain. Then spake the mayor: 'No, godfather;
they give no mercy to priests!' Then the pastor and his chaplain were
sore troubled, and said, 'How miserably you abandon and betray me, be
God Almighty your judge. When aforetime I wished to fly, you bade me
remain with you, saying you would abide by me for good or for evil,
even unto death; and you said, Shall the shepherd fly from his sheep?
And now, alack, evil is the day, the sheep fly from the shepherd.' Then
spake the women and the citizens' wives to him, weeping, 'We will
disguise you and your chaplains, and will bring you down with us
safely.' Then spoke the pastor Herr Megerlein, 'That, please God, will
I never do. I must not disavow my office and dignity, for I am a priest
and not a woman; but look to it well, you men; see in what a pitiful
way you deliver me over to death to save yourselves.' No one heeded
these complaints; but the two chaplains allowed themselves to be
disguised, and carried children on their shoulders--not so the pastor.

"Whilst they thus held converse together, the mayor agreed with the
citizens on what terms they would surrender. They then went down, one
after the other, and the Bohemians and Hussites were there in front of
the building, and made prisoners of them all; they allowed only the
women and children to go free. But many of the women, maidens, and
children had been in such fear that they had taken refuge in the
cellars; so when the fire reached them they were suffocated and
perished. Now when all in the house had surrendered, there remained
only the pastor, with a few journeymen and artisans who had been unable
to purchase their liberty, and who feared death and imprisonment; these
the pastor exhorted as follows: 'Dear companions, look well after your
necks, and be firm, for if they make you prisoners they will torment
and martyrize you.' Then they replied they would do as he advised. But
when they saw that the citizens had all surrendered, great fear came
over them, and they went down and submitted themselves; but the pastor
remained there with an old village priest to the last. Then the
Hussites went up to them and brought them down, and led them into the
midst of the army and the multitude. Then Master Ambrosius, a heretic
of Grätz, being present, spoke to these gentlemen in Latin: 'Pastor,
wilt thou gainsay and retract what thou hast preached? thus thou mayst
preserve thy life; but if thou wilt not do this, thou must be burnt.'
Then answered Herr Megerlein the pastor, and said, 'God forbid that I
should deny the truth of our holy Christian faith on account of this
short pain. I have taught and preached the truth at Prague, at Görlitz,
and at Grätz,[8] and for this truth will I gladly die.' Then one of
them ran and fetched a truss of straw, which they bound round about his
body so that he could not be seen; they then set fire to the straw, and
made him, thus surrounded by flames, run and dance about in the midst
of the multitude, till he was suffocated. Then they took him as a
corpse and threw him into a brewer's vat of boiling water; they also
threw in the old village priest, and let them boil therein; thus they
were both martyred; but the two chaplains of whom I have before spoken,
came out with the women concealed in women's clothes, and the child
that one of these priests bore on his arm began to weep and to cry
after its mother, and the priest tried to comfort and quiet it. So the
Hussites discovered by the voice that it was a man, and one of them
took the veil off him; then he let fall the child, took to flight, and
ran with all his might; they followed after and killed him. The other
came away with the women and children. This happened at Wünschelburg.

"1429. Soon after this the Hussites returned home, but remained there
scarcely six weeks; they called out for another campaign, collected
again in great strength, and passed into the land of Meissen. The
Meisseners, however, were strong in the field, with others such as
Brunswickers, Saxons, and people from the marshes, also some from the
Imperial cities. The Hussites entered the country with fire and sword,
killing and taking prisoners and living lawlessly. Now when the
Hussites had advanced to where a large army of Meisseners and people
from the Imperial cities were collected together, they encamped
opposite to them, and threw up a barricade of waggons. When the armies
were thus lying opposite each other they exchanged letters. The
Meisseners wrote thus:--'Oh! you apostates from the faith, and cursed
heretics, we shall, God willing, fight you to-morrow, and make you food
for the dogs.' To which the Hussites thus replied:--'Oh! you hounds,
we shall, God willing, make you food for the dogs, only wait for us
to-morrow.' When it was still quite early on the following morning, the
Hussites prepared themselves for the fight; they first heard mass, than
ate and drank their fill, and when they moved forward to begin the
fight, they received intelligence that the Meisseners had fled. When
they heard this, they hastened onward and chased them two whole days.
When they found they could not catch them, they deliberated, and
dividing themselves spread all over the country, burning, killing, and
making prisoners, and entering the towns from which the people had

"1443. The country armed and prepared itself, and raised a troop of
four hundred horse. It was known that the Bohemians and Hussites
intended making an inroad upon the country, therefore the States
encamped themselves some miles from Schweidnitz by Bögendorf, in order
to watch the enemy, as they knew not at what point they would enter.
But Hein von Czirnan had a presentiment that they would come to
Bolkenhain (where he had settled), as did indeed happen; therefore he
sent a horseman in all haste to Bolkenhain, to inform the burgomaster,
and beg him to set a strong and vigilant watch, as he had certain
intelligence that the enemy would enter the country in that quarter.
The burgomaster sent warning to the villagers, but Hein von Czirnan's
messenger arriving only in the evening, the watch not being well
established in the city, the enemy appeared on the walls at the dawn of
morning; for they had approached the city early in the evening and
concealed themselves behind the hills and among the rocks, and had in
the night quite at their leisure prepared ladders. The ladders were
short, each of four rundles, so that four of these ladders could hardly
reach up the wall; but the first piece of ladder had in front a little
wheel; when this was placed, not being fixed, it advanced up the wall.
The other ladders were so contrived that one fitted into the other, and
fastened together by an iron band. With such cunning and malice had
they so early set to work against us. They had placed these same
ladders in the night by the walls where the city and hill were highest,
the ladders were so broad and wide that two of the enemy could mount at
a time. As now at daybreak they had placed many of the ladders, they
began to ascend four at once, but when they arrived at the top of the
wall they found no passage on it towards the city, and were obliged for
some distance to slide and creep along till they came to a watch-house,
where they found some steps; so, alas! they came upon us in the city.
And when in this way many of them had assembled, they began to cry and
to holloa out most terribly, like devils. This took place the last
Thursday before Bartlemy-tide. When we heard this terrible noise and
tumult, we were woefully frightened, and every one that was able fled
to the towers of the gate, church, or any other tower that was
accessible; but we could not get into the stronghold, as the enemy had
surrounded it, and whoever attempted to enter it was slain. As the
people of the city thus concealed themselves, the Hussites went in
great troops about the town; some rushed to the churches, others to the
best houses; about eight came to my house and forced themselves up into
the shop, and placed two of their number with naked swords at the door,
and let no one enter the house till they had plundered and divided the
whole of my shop and goods. My wife was at that time in the midst of
her confinement, God be merciful to her, and she had in her room many
valuable things, such as her bed-linen and her clothes; they treated
her however with such respect, that no one entered her room. But two of
them who were well known to her, and to whom she had shown great
kindness, went to the door of her room, told her how they pitied her,
and brought her secretly a coverlet and bed-cover, and said, 'Good
woman, they will soon set fire to the city, therefore lose no time in
being carried to the cellar with all that you desire to save, for we
shall be off immediately.' When they had pillaged all the houses they
would gladly have left the town, but could not, for the inhabitants who
had taken refuge in the towers and gate-houses, threw down stones upon
them, so that they could not pass through the gates, however much they
wished it. At last they found an old gate which for many years had been
walled up; this they broke open, and carried through it all their
plunder, with which they loaded their waggons, and intended to return
to Bohemia; they fired the city, and marched off to Landshut. When the
troops of the provincial states assembled at Bögendorf beheld such a
great smoke and fire, they said to one another, 'It is indeed at
Bolkenhain, or in its neighbourhood;' then they started off at full
speed for Landshut, and overtook their enemies. When therefore the
Bohemians and Hussites began to retrace their steps, they perceived a
great host of our town-people coming towards them over the Galgenberg;
so they in great fear took to flight. Then our people fell upon them,
and the men who had charge of the waggons loaded with our goods,
abandoned them and fled for refuge into the woods; thus we deprived
them of their plunder, and made many prisoners, both horse and foot,
who were distributed among the cities."--So writes Martin of

This endless war ruined German Silesia: the plains lay waste and
desolate, and most of the German peasantry in this century of fire and
sword sank into a state little removed from that of the Sclave serfs.
The smaller cities were burnt down and impoverished, and only a few of
the larger ones have since attained any degree of importance. The
Silesian nobles became rude and predatory; they learnt from the
Bohemians to steal cattle, to seize merchants and traders, and to levy
contributions on the cities. The princes in their endless disputes with
one another allied themselves sometimes with the Bohemians, and shared
their booty with them; indeed, some of them took pleasure in a wild
robber life, carrying it on even in their own country. These deeds of
violence and lamentable struggles continued quite into the sixteenth
century, till the Reformation gave a new bent to this lively and
impressible race, and brought with it new sufferings.

Through all these times the Silesians retained their love of orderly
arrangements, even in the most desperate situations. When, for example,
in the year 1488, Duke Hans of Sagen, one of the lawless characters who
figured in the border wars, imprisoned seven honourable counsellors of
his own city, Glogau, in a tower, and starved them to death because
they had refused to act contrary to a solemn engagement; these seven
martyrs, in a truly German manner, punctually and conscientiously kept
a diary of their sufferings, and left in writing, prayers to the
Almighty for mercy and a happy death; but it is a truly Silesian and
almost modern trait, that the writer of this fearful journal had a
certain gloomy pleasure in reflecting on his painful fate, and in the
last lines he wrote before his death, he endeavoured to depict the
destitution of his situation by mentioning that he had been obliged to
use the black of the burnt wick as ink.[9]

In the century of the reformation, the Silesians, as might be expected
of a people of such quick susceptibilities, were for the most part
zealous for the new teaching. They had been bound by strong ties to the
old Church, like most of the other races; for it was partly at the call
of the Church that their ancestors had come into that country;
notwithstanding which, almost the whole people freed themselves from
Rome, and manfully ventured life and property for their convictions.
And most severely was their constancy tried; for the supreme power,
which had been in Polish and Bohemian hands, had now fallen into those
of the House of Austria.[10] Of all the countries under the power of
the House of Hapsburg, Silesia is the only one which did not make a
sacrifice of the new faith to the iron hand of reaction, but maintained
a desperate resistance even into the eighteenth century. These were
indeed two most unhappy centuries; the Thirty years' war laid the
country waste, and not a third part of the former population escaped
from the brutality of the soldiers, or from pestilence, or famine. But
just at this time, when the whole of Germany had become one vast
burial-ground, in which not even the loud wail of sorrow was heard, the
genius of Silesia, as the representative of Germany, entered on the
only domain in which advance was possible. Whilst they were still
exchanging blows with the Imperial soldiers, they took pleasure in
poetry and songs. Already the delicate and polished writings of the
vapid Opitz gave pleasure amidst the coarse language of the camp; but
truly refreshing to the heart was the short; humorous laugh of Logau,
at a period when nothing was to be seen save sad or angry faces. The
whole of the educated Silesians were eager to sympathize with Opitz,
Logau, Gryphius, and Günther, and to vie with them in making heroic
verses. Their songs have few charms for us, but we must always feel
thankful to them that they had the power of giving expression to the
ideal feelings of Germany. It was a great thing to be able to show at
such a time, when the coarse and the commonplace overlaid the German
life, that there was still something beautiful on earth, and a more
intellectual enjoyment than could be found in dissolute revelry, and
also that behind the grey and colourless sky which overspread the land,
there was another world, full of brilliant colours, and of nobler and
more refined feelings.

But whilst the songs of the Silesian "Swans and Nightingales" were held
in honour by the other German races, and the fame of the Silesian poets
rose high, the worldly position of the Silesians themselves was
lamentable. The Thirty years' war was followed by a century of
persecution and oppression, which so diminished their energies, that at
last it appeared as if they would fall into the same condition as that
in which they had found the Sclaves,--a death-like apathy, and a future
without hope. The Silesians never became utterly downcast, for they
took every opportunity of enjoying themselves, but it was only in
feasting and revelry. When, however, the misery of the country was at
the highest, the Prussian drum sounded on the frontier from Müncheberg,
and the trumpets of the Ziethen hussars pealed along the same roads on
which five hundred years before the first song of the German colonists
had resounded with the good words, "We come in God's name."

The Germanizing of the country was not thoroughly accomplished till it
was conquered by Prussia; it is only since that time that the Silesians
have become conscious of being an integral part of the German nation.
What was begun by the Sclave Piastens of the thirteenth, was concluded
by the German Hohenzollern of the eighteenth, century.

                              CHAPTER II.

                   A GERMAN LADY OF THE ROYAL COURT.
                             (about 1440.)

Many incidents may be found in the descriptions of the struggles
between the Silesians and Hussites, which are characteristic of the
minds and manners of the people in their epic period. We are made
sensible of the great dissimilarity between the past and present by the
style of Martin's narration. In his scanty yet graphic description he
gives us the facts, but makes no reflections on them. The writer
undoubtedly feels how noble and manly was the death of the Pastor
Megerlein; but he does not consider it necessary, and, indeed, seems to
want the facility and confidence requisite, to give expression to his

Decisions hastily taken were on the impulses of the moment as hastily
given up. The pastor, even when abandoned by his flock, still advised
resistance to the young men that remained, though there was little hope
of saving himself; but he rejected the proposal of his Hussite friend,
and met death like a man. Little value was set upon human life: hard
hearted and cruel, the people murdered each other without compunction;
yet the infuriated Bohemians kept respectfully out of the sick woman's
room, and the plunderers with touching zeal requited past kindness. We
find unbridled egotism together with heroic self-denial, rude levity
with the deepest religious convictions: the minds of individuals moved
in a narrow circle, but with firmness and decision.

An insight into the mental struggles of the fifteenth century may be
supplied by another narrative, in which the life and feelings of a
clever and strong-minded woman are made known. The circle in which she
moved was the court of the German emperor's daughter. Few of our court
officials are aware, how much their office has increased in comfort,
honour, and decorum since the days of their predecessors, at whose
heads the Emperor Wenzel threw his boots, or on whom Margaret Maltash
used to inflict blows with her clenched fist. It was necessary for the
men and women of a court in former centuries to have strong nerves and
good health, to bear heat and cold, to endure in winter the draughts of
badly constructed dwellings, and in summer whole days of riding on
rough hacks: men had to drink deep and yet keep sober longer than their
worthy masters, if they would not be blackened with coals, and trodden
under foot by them and other drunken princely guests; the women of the
court had to jest with crowds of drunken men with rough manners, or to
have their nights' rest disturbed by the clashing of naked swords, or
by the cries of an excited multitude. It actually happened once at the
Imperial court, that there was no money in the chest for the purchase
of new shoes, and frequently the honest citizens declined to furnish
the court with the necessary supplies of bread and meat. Most of the
great courts led a wandering life, and on their journeys, bad inns,
worse roads, and scanty fare were by no means their greatest
discomforts: the roads were unsafe, and the reception at the end of the
journey was often doubtful.

The scenes we are about to portray are of a Hungarian court, but the
royal family and the narrator are German. It is the court of Queen
Elizabeth, daughter of the Emperor Sigismund, widow of Albrecht of
Austria, king of Hungary, who died in the year 1439. The German
Imperial race of Luxemburg was, after Charles IV., the least worthy of
renown of all who have ruled over central Europe, and the Emperor
Sigismund was one of the worst of his race. His daughter Elizabeth
suffered under the curse of her house: it was her fate to throw Hungary
into confusion and weakness; but as she must be judged from history, it
appears she was somewhat better than her father or her reprobate
mother: she had a feeling of her own dignity, and was, unlike her
parents, a person of distinguished manners. This did not hinder her
committing, for political purposes, unworthy actions, which every age
has stigmatized as mean; but she attached people to her by that
fascination of manner which often takes the place of better qualities.

It was thus that one of her attendants, Helen Kottenner, was devoted to
her with the most unshaken fidelity; she was bed-chamberwoman and
governess to the young princess, a child of four years old, and at the
same time she was confidante and counsellor of her mistress. Her ardent
loyalty and motherly love for the little king Ladislaus made her the
most zealous partisan of his family. She secretly stole for her
sovereign the Hungarian crown, and she carried the little Ladislaus
through the swamps of Hungary and the rebellious magnates to his
coronation, and became his instructress when fate separated him from
his mother. It was remarkable that this woman, in a stirring time, when
writing was troublesome and difficult even to men, recorded the
important events of her life and her share in politics in the shape of
a memoir. Our surprise at so unusual a circumstance increases, when we
examine closely the fragment of her memoirs which is preserved to us.
Her narrative is strikingly detailed, clear, and graphic.

There is no doubt that the fragment is genuine: it was published at
Leipzig, 1846, with some explanatory remarks by Stephen Endlisher, from
the manuscript still preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna (No.
2920), under the title, 'From the Memoirs of Helen Kottenner, 1439,
1440.' The principal event recorded is the theft of the Hungarian
crown, by which the coronation of the child Ladislaus was effected.

To enable the reader to understand this, we must mention that up to the
present time a mysterious importance has been attached by the
Hungarians to the crown of the Holy Stephen, "_die heilige_," without
which no one could become rightful King of Hungary; and this mysterious
importance has, as is well known, added many romantic adventures to the
long and sorrowful history of this crown. When King Albrecht died, his
widow Elizabeth had not given birth to the heir who was to secure the
succession of the throne of Hungary. Amid the fierce and egotistical
quarrels of the nobles who then decided the fate of the country, two
large parties may be distinguished,--the national and the German. The
national party was desirous of giving the throne to the King Wladislaus
of Poland, whilst the Germans sought every means of preserving it to
the royal family of Germany. Helen Kottenner writes as follows:--

"Her highness the noble Queen came to reside at Plintenburg,[11] and
many Hungarian lords with her. These went down to the vaults and
brought up from thence a chest in which was kept the holy crown, which
they took out with its case: there were many seals to this, which they
broke open, and looked to see that it was all right. I was present.
Then they placed the holy crown in a small chest. This was standing
near a bed in which lay the noble Queen, about to be confined, and in
the same room with her were two maidens, one called Barbara, the
daughter of a Hungarian lord, the other called Ironacherin, and there
was a wax taper for a nightlight, as is the custom amongst princesses.
One of these maidens got up in the night, and upset the light without
perceiving it; and a fire broke out in the room, and was burning so
near the chest that it was singed, and a hole as large as a hand's
breadth was burnt in a blue velvet cushion that layover the chest. Now
observe this wonder: the King who was to wear the holy crown was yet
within his mother's womb, and they were scarcely two fathoms apart from
the chest, and the evil one would gladly have injured them by the fire;
but God was their protector, and caused the Queen to awake at the right
time. I was then with the young princess. Then came the maidens and
bade me quickly rise up, as there was fire in the chamber wherein lay
my honoured lady. I was sore afraid, rose up hastily, and went into the
room, which was full of smoke: having extinguished the fire, I let in
fresh air to clear away the smoke, so that the noble Queen might be
able to remain there. In the morning the Hungarian lords waited on my
honoured lady. Her highness told them what had happened in the night,
and how nearly both she and the holy crown had been burnt. Then the
lords were much amazed, and they advised that the holy crown should be
replaced in its chest, and carried again down to the vault from whence
it had been taken; which was done at once. The door was sealed again as
before, but with fewer seals. And the Hungarian lords desired that the
castle might be given over to her cousin, Lassla Wan von Gara,[12]
which was also done. Herr Lassla Wan took possession of the castle, and
placed it under the superintendence of a Burgrave.

"After all this had happened, the noble widow, my honoured lady,
departed for Ofen, in great anxiety of mind, because the Hungarian
lords wished her to take another husband; and the King of Poland was
the one whom her cousin Lassla Wan was desirous she should choose.
This, however, she would not do, as her doctors had assured her she
would bear a son: she hoped that this might prove true, but not having
any certainty thereof, she was undecided how to act. Then the noble
Queen had begun to consider and devise how she could get the holy crown
from the Hungarian lords. These Hungarian lords would have been glad
for the confinement of the noble Queen to have taken place at the
Plintenburg; but that did not please her highness, and she would not
return to the castle; for having weighed the matter well, she had
reason to fear that were she there, she and her child might be forcibly
detained; still less could she think of going there now, as she was
endeavouring to obtain possession of the holy crown. The noble Queen
had taken her youngest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, with her from the
castle, as also myself and two young maidens, and left all the others
there. Every one was astonished that her highness should leave the
remainder of the court up at the castle; the reason was known only to
God, her highness, and myself.

"The noble Queen went with her youngest daughter, Princess Elizabeth,
to Komorn. Here Count Ulric von Eily[13] came to visit her highness,--a
faithful friend, with whom she consulted by what means she could bring
away the holy crown from the Plintenburg. Then came my honoured lady to
me, desiring that I should undertake it, as there was no one else she
could trust, or who knew so well the locality. This sorely troubled me;
for it was a dangerous venture for me and my little children, and I
turned it over in my mind what I should do, for I had no one to take
counsel of but God alone; and I thought if I did it not, and evil arose
therefrom, I should be guilty before God and the world. So I consented
to risk my life on this difficult undertaking, but desired to have some
one to help me. Then I was asked whom I should consider fit for this: I
proposed a Croat whom I thought faithfully devoted to my lady. He was
called into secret council, and we laid before him what we desired of
him: the man was so terrified that he changed colour, and became as
one, half dead: he would not consent, and went forthwith to the stable
for his horse. I know not whether it came to pass through his own
awkwardness, or if it was the will of God, but an account was received
at court that he had had a bad fall from his horse, and as soon as he
recovered he made the best of his way to Croatia; so the plan was
delayed, and my honoured lady was very sorrowful that one who was so
weak hearted should know of the affair, and I also was in great

"When the time came that the Almighty had ordained that this great work
should be done, He sent us a Hungarian who was willing to undertake to
obtain the holy crown; his name was the....[14]; he set about it in a
wise and manly manner. We arranged what we should require, and took
certain keys and two files. This man who was about to venture
his life--as I was mine--in this affair, put on a black velvet
dressing-gown and a pair of felt shoes, and in each shoe he placed a
file, and he hid the keys under his dress. I took my honoured lady's
little seal and the keys of the front door; at the side of the door
there was a chain and hook; we had before we left put on a lock, so as
to prevent any one else from putting another. When we were ready, my
honoured lady sent forward a messenger to the Plintenburg, to let the
Burgrave and the maidens know that the latter were to prepare
themselves to join her highness at Komorn, as soon as the carriage
arrived. When the carriage which was to be sent for the maidens, and
also the sledge which was to convey me and my confederate were ready,
two Hungarian noblemen were directed to accompany me. We proceeded, and
information was given to the Burgrave, that I had arrived for the
maidens. He and the other courtiers were surprised that I had left my
young mistress, because she was so little, and they all knew well that
I was rarely allowed to do so. The Burgrave was ill, and had intended
to place his bed near the first door of the place where the holy crown
was kept; but God ordained that his illness should increase, and he was
unable to sleep there, and he could not place servants there, it being
in the women's apartment; therefore he placed a cloth over the padlock,
which we had placed on the chain, and sealed it up.

"When we arrived at the Plintenburg, the maidens were right glad to
find they were to rejoin my honoured lady: they immediately made
preparations, and had a trunk made for their clothes; this occupied a
long time, even up to the eighth hour. My confederate came also into
the apartment of the women, and jested with the maidens. Now there was
a little heap of fire-wood lying near the stove, under which he hid the
files; but the servants who waited on the maidens observed this, and
began to whisper among themselves. I heard them, and forthwith told
him; this frightened him so much that he changed colour, but he took
the files away and concealed them elsewhere, and said to me, 'Woman,
take care that we have a light.' And I begged of the old woman to give
me some tapers, because I had many prayers to say, for it was the first
Saturday night after the carnival. I took the tapers and hid them near
me. When the maidens and every one else slept, there remained in the
small room besides myself, only the old woman whom I had brought with
me, who did not know a word of German, nor anything about my business;
she had also no knowledge of the house, and lay there sleeping soundly.
At the right time my confederate came through the chapel and knocked at
the door, which I opened and closed again after him. He had brought a
servant with him to help him, who was called by the same Christian name
as himself, and was bound to him by oath. I then intended to give him
the tapers, but they had disappeared. I was in such terror that I knew
not what to do, and the business had well-nigh miscarried only for want
of the lights. Then I bethought me that I would go and quietly awake
the woman who had given me the tapers; and I told her the tapers were
lost, and I had yet some time to pray; so she gave me more. Then I was
glad, and gave them to him with the keys and the little seal of my
honoured lady, that he might fasten and seal everything up again. I
gave him also the three keys which belonged to the first door. He took
off the cloth with the seal of the castle, which had been placed on it
by the Burgrave, opened the door and went in with his servant, and
worked so hard at the other locks that the noise of the knocking and
filing became alarming. But though the watchers and the Burgrave's
people were more than usually vigilant that night in the care of the
crown, yet Almighty God stopped their ears, so that they did not hear
the noise. I however heard it all, and kept watch in great trouble and
anxiety. And I devoutly prayed to God and the Holy Virgin that they
would support and help me; yet I was in greater anxiety for my soul
than for my life, and I prayed to God that He would be merciful to my
soul, and let me die at once there, rather than that anything should
happen against his will, or that should bring misfortune on my country
and people. Whilst I was thus praying, I heard a loud noise and
rustling, as if many armed men were at the door through which I had
admitted my confederate, and it appeared to me as if they desired to
break open the door. In great fear I rose from my knees, and was about
to warn him to desist from his work, when it occurred to me to go first
to the door, which I did; when I came to the door, the noise was at an
end, and no one seemed to be there; then I bethought me that it was a
spirit, and went again to my prayers; and I vowed to our dear lady a
pilgrimage to Zell[15] barefooted, and until I could fulfil it, I would
every Saturday night forego my feather bed, and also as long as I lived
would make an especial prayer to the Holy Virgin, thanking her for her
favour, and begging her to express my gratitude to our dear Lord Jesus
Christ, for the great mercy which out of his compassion He had shown
me. Whilst I was still at my prayers, I thought again that there was a
great noise and rustling of armour at the other door, which was the
special entrance into the women's room; and this frightened me so much
that I trembled and perspired all over, and thought it was surely not a
spirit, but that they had gone round to this door whilst I was still
standing at that of the chapel. I knew not what to do, and listened to
find out whether the maidens had heard anything. But I heard no one,
then I went slowly down the small stairs through the chamber of the
maidens, to the door which was the usual entrance into the women's
apartments; when I came to the door there was no one. Then was I glad,
and thanked God, and went again to my prayers, and bethought me it was
the devil who wished to hinder our business.

"When I had ended my prayer I got up, and determined to go to the vault
and see what they were doing: the man met me, and told me to rejoice,
as it was all accomplished. They had filed away the locks of the doors,
but that on the case was so fast they could not file it, and were
obliged to burn the wood. From this arose a great smoke, and I was
again in much anxiety lest inquiry should be made about it; but God
averted this danger. As we had now got the holy crown we closed the
doors again, and fixed on other locks instead of those we had broken,
and put on them again the seal of my honoured lady: we made fast the
outer door, and replaced on it the cloth with the seal of the castle,
as had been done by the Burgrave, and as we had found it. And I threw
the file into the privy that was in the women's apartments; and if it
were broken open, the file would be found in evidence of the truth of
all this. The holy crown we carried out through the chapel, wherein
rest in God the remains of St. Elizabeth; and I, Helen Kottenner, owe
to this chapel a priestly garment for the mass, and an altar cloth,
which shall be paid by my honoured lord, King Lassla. My confederate
took a red velvet cushion which he opened, and taking a portion of the
feathers out, placed the holy crown therein, and then sewed it up

"In the meanwhile it was almost daylight, the maidens and every one had
arisen, and we were to depart: now the maidens had in their service an
old woman, who my honoured lady had commanded should have her wages
paid, and be left behind, that she might return home to Ofen. When she
had received her wages she came to me, and told me that she had seen a
curious thing lying before the stove, and did not know what it might
be. I was much alarmed at this, for I saw plainly that it was part of
the case in which the holy crown had been kept; and I did my best to
persuade her not to believe her own eyes; but I went secretly to the
stove, and threw the fragments that I found into the fire, that they
might be entirely burnt; and I took the woman with me on the journey.
Every one was surprised at my doing this; but I said that I intended
asking my honoured lady for a benefice at St. Martins at Vienna for
her, which I afterwards did.

"When the maidens and the retinue were ready to depart, my confederate
took the cushion in which the holy crown was concealed, and commanded
his servant to carry it from the house to the sledge on which he and I
were to sit. Then the good fellow took the cushion on his shoulders,
and threw over it an old cowhide with the tail on, which hung down
behind, and every one who saw it began to laugh.

"When we arrived in the market-place we would gladly have had something
to eat, but could find nothing except herrings. When we had eaten a
little, and assisted at the usual mass in the Church, the day was far
advanced, and we had to go that day from the Plintenburg to Komorn,
which was full twelve German miles off. On mounting the sledge I took
great care not to sit on the corner of the cushion in which the holy
crown was concealed, and thanked God Almighty for all his mercies; yet
I often turned round to see if any one followed us; and there was no
end to my anxiety, for my thoughts troubled me much.

"On arriving at the inn where we intended to dine, the faithful servant
to whom the care of the cushion was intrusted carried it into the
chamber, and laid it on a table before me, so that it was under my eye
the whole time that we were eating; and before starting, the cushion
was replaced. We journeyed onwards, and about dark arrived at the
Danube, which was still frozen over, but the ice in some places was
very thin. When we were half way across the river the ice gave way
under the carriage in which the maidens were, and it was upset; they
raised a great cry, for it was so dark they could not see each other. I
was in great fear that we, with the holy crown, should be lost in the
Danube; but God was our help, so that no one got under the ice, but
many things from the carriage fell into the water under the ice. Then I
took the Duchess of Silesia and the principal maidens into the sledge
with me, and we, with all the others, got safe over the river. When we
arrived at the castle of Komorn, my confederate took the cushion with
the holy crown, and carried it to a place of safety, and I went to my
honoured lady the noble Queen, who received me graciously, and said,
'That with God's help, I had been a good messenger.'

"The noble Queen received me in bed, and told me how she had suffered
during the day. Two widow ladies had come from Ofen to her highness,
bringing with them two nurses, one was the midwife, the other the
wet-nurse; and the latter had brought her child with her, which was a
son, for the wise people think that the milk which comes with a son is
better than that which comes with a daughter. These women were to have
gone with her highness to Presburg, where she was to have been
confined, for according to their reckoning her highness had yet another
week to go; but either the reckoning was wrong, or, as I said to the
noble Queen, it was God's will: her grace told me that the women from
Ofen had given her a bath, after which her pains had come on. I
discovered from this that the birth was now approaching. The women from
Ofen were staying in the market-place, but we had a midwife with us,
called Margaret, who had been sent to my honoured lady by the Countess
Hans von Schaumberg, as being particularly good, which she was. Then I
said, 'Honoured lady, it seems to me that you will not go to-morrow to
Presburg;' so her highness got up and began to prepare herself for the
event. Then I sent for the Hungarian housekeeper who was called Aessem
Margit, who came immediately, and also the maiden called Ironacherin,
and I hastened to call the midwife whom the Countess von Schaumberg had
sent. She was in the room with my young lady,[16] and I said,
'Margaret, rise quickly, for the hour of my honoured lady is come;' the
woman being heavy with sleep answered, 'By the holy cross, if the child
is born to-night we shall hardly go to Presburg to-morrow;' and she
would not get up. The contest between us appeared to me so long that I
hastened back to my honoured lady, lest anything should go wrong, as
those who were with her did not understand such things; and she
inquired, 'Where is Margaret?' and I gave her the foolish answer of the
woman; and her highness said, 'Go again quickly, and bid her come, for
this is no jesting matter.' I hurried back in great anger, and brought
the woman with me; and in less than half an hour after she came to my
honoured lady, Almighty God sent us a young King. The same hour that
the holy crown came from the Plintenburg to Komorn, the King Lassla was
born. The midwife was sharp-witted, and exclaimed, 'Honoured lady,
grant me my wish, and I will tell you what I have in my arms.' The
noble Queen answered, 'Yes, dear mother;' and the nurse said, 'I have a
young King in my arms.' This made the noble Queen very happy: she
raised her hands to God, and thanked Him for his mercy. When she had
been arranged comfortably in her bed, and no one was with her save I
alone, I knelt down and said to the Queen, 'Honoured lady, your
Highness must thank God as long as you live for his great mercy, and
for the miracle which He has wrought in bringing the crown and the King
together in the same hour.' The noble Queen replied, 'It is indeed a
great miracle of God Almighty, the like of which has never happened

"When the noble and faithful Count Ulric von Eily heard that a King and
friend was born to him, who was both his lord and cousin, he was
overjoyed, as were also the Croats, and all the lords and attendants on
the court. The noble Count von Eily had bonfires made, and they had a
procession on the water with torches, and amused themselves till after
midnight. Early in the morning they sent for the Bishop of Gran to come
and christen the young King: he came, accompanied by the pastor of
Ofen, Master Franz. And my honoured lady desired that I should be
godmother; but I answered, 'Honoured madam, I am bound to obey your
Highness always, but I beg of you to take the Aessem Margit instead of
me,' which her Highness did. When the noble King was to be baptized, we
took off the black dress from the young princess, which she had worn
for the great and dear prince, King Albrecht, and put on her a golden
dress woven with red; and the maidens were all gaily dressed to the
honour and praise of God, who had given an hereditary King to the
people and country.

"Not long after, there came certain intelligence that the King of
Poland was approaching, and had designs upon Ofen, which proved true.
It became therefore necessary to make secret and hasty preparations for
the coronation; and my honoured lady sent to Ofen to get cloth of gold
for the coronation dress of the little King Lassla; but this took so
long a time that we feared it would be too late, for the coronation
must take place on a high festival, and Pentecost, which was the first,
was near at hand, so that it was necessary to make haste. Now there was
a rich and beautiful vestment for the mass which had belonged to the
Emperor Sigismund; it was red and gold, with silver spots worked on it;
this was cut up and formed into the first dress of the young King that
he was to wear with the holy crown. I sewed together the small pieces,
the surplice and the humeral, the stole and the banner, the gloves and
the shoes; and I was obliged to make these secretly in the chapel with
bolted doors.

"In the evening, when every one had gone to rest, my honoured lady sent
for me to come to her immediately; this made me fear that something had
gone wrong. The noble Queen's thoughts had been wandering to and fro,
and she said to me, 'What would you advise? our affairs are not going
on well; they desire to stop us on our way; where shall we conceal the
holy crown? It will be a great misfortune if it falls into the hands of
the enemy.' I stepped aside for a little while, wishing to reflect and
to pray to the mother of all mercy to intercede with her Son, that we
might manage our business so that no evil should accrue from it. Then I
returned to the noble Queen and said, 'Honoured lady, with deference to
your wisdom, I will advise what seems good to me: your Highness knows
well that the King is of more importance than the holy crown; let us
lay the holy crown in the cradle under the King, so that wherever God
leads the King there will the crown be also.' This counsel pleased her
Highness, who answered: 'We will do so, and thus let him take care of
the crown himself.' In the morning I took the holy crown and packed it
carefully in a cloth, and laid it in the mattress of the cradle, for
his Highness did not yet lie on a feather-bed; and laid there also a
long spoon, such as we use for mixing the child's pap. This I did to
make any one who felt in the cradle, believe that what lay therein was
the vessel in which the pap for the noble King was prepared.

"On the Tuesday afternoon before Whitsunday the noble Queen set out
with the young King, the noble Count von Eily, the Croatian counts, and
the Dukes of Lindbach. A large boat had been prepared for the noble
Queen, her son, and daughter; and many good people went on board with
them, so that the boat being heavy laden was scarce a hand's breadth
above the water: there was much fear and danger, especially as the wind
was high; but God took us prosperously over the river. The young King
was carried in the cradle by four men, most of them armed, and I myself
rode by the side of it. He had not been carried far when he began to
cry violently, and would not remain in the cradle; so I descended from
my horse and carried him in my arms: and the roads were bad, for there
had been much rain; but there was a pious knight there, Herr Hans of
Pilach, who conducted me through the swampy ground.

"We went on in great anxiety, for all the peasants had fled from their
villages into the wood, and most of them were vassals of the lords who
were our enemies; therefore, when we came to the mountains, I
dismounted from my horse and took the noble King out of his cradle, and
placed him in the carriage, wherein sat the noble Queen and her young
daughter Elizabeth; and we women and maidens formed a circle round the
noble family, so that if any one fired at the carriage we should
receive the shots. And there were many foot-soldiers who went on both
sides of the carriage, and searched in the underwood, lest there should
be any enemies there who might injure us. Thus, with God's help, we
crossed the mountain without hurt. Then I took the noble King again out
of the carriage, and placed him in his cradle, riding by the side of
it: we had not gone far when he began again to cry; he would not remain
in the cradle or carriage, and the nurse could not quiet him. Then I
took him up in my arms and carried him a good bit of the way; the nurse
also carried him till we were both tired, when I laid him again in his
cradle; thus we continued to change during the whole of our journey.
Sometimes it rained so that the noble King was quite wet. I had brought
a fur pelisse with me for my own wear, but when the rain was very heavy
I covered the cradle with it, till it was wet through, I then had it
wrung out, and again covered the cradle with it as long as it was
wanted. The wind also was so high that it blew the dust into the
cradle, so that the King could hardly open his eyes; and at times it
was so hot that he perspired all over, and from that a rash broke out
upon him afterwards. It was almost night when we arrived at the inn;
and when every one had eaten, the gentlemen placed themselves round the
house in which the royal family were, and made a fire, keeping watch
all night, as is the custom in the kingdom of Hungary. The next day we
journeyed to Weissenburg.

"When we arrived near Weissenburg, Miklosch Weida of the free city rode
to meet us, accompanied by full five hundred horse.

"When we went through the marshy ground the young King began again to
cry, and would not remain in the cradle or carriage; and I was again
obliged to carry his Highness in my arms, till we arrived in the city
of Weissenburg. Then the gentlemen sprang from their horses, and formed
themselves into a wide circle of armed men, holding naked swords in
their hands, and I, Helen Kottenner, had to carry the young King in the
midst of this circle; and Count Bartholomä of Croatia went on one side
of me, and another on the other side, to do honour to the noble King;
thus we went through the city till we arrived at the inn. This was on
Whitsun eve.

"On our arrival my honoured lady sent for the elders of the city; she
showed them the holy crown, and gave directions to prepare everything
that was meet for the coronation, according to the old usages. And
there were certain burghers there, who remembered the coronation of the
Emperor Sigismund, having been present at it. On Whitsun morning I got
up early, bathed the young King, and dressed him as well as I could;
then they carried him to the church, where all the Kings were crowned,
and there were many good people there, both ecclesiastics and laymen.
When we arrived at the church they carried the young King to the choir,
but the door of the choir was closed; the citizens were within, and my
honoured lady was outside the door with her son, the noble King. My
honoured lady spoke Hungarian with them, and the burghers answered her
Highness in the same language: her Highness took the oath instead of
her son, for his Highness was only twelve weeks old that day. When all
this was accomplished according to the old customs, they opened the
door and let in their rightful lord and lady, and all the others who
were summoned, both ecclesiastics and laymen. And the young Princess
Elizabeth stood up by the organ, that her Highness might not be injured
in the throng, as she was only just four years old. When the service
was about to begin, I had to raise up the young King that his Highness
might be confirmed. Now Miklosch Weida had been appointed to knight the
young King, because he was a genuine Hungarian knight. The noble Count
von Eily had a sword which was thickly ornamented with silver and gold,
and on it was a motto that ran thus: 'Indestructible.' This sword he
gave to the young King that his Highness might be knighted with it.
Then I, Helen Kottenner, raised the young King in my arms, and the
knight of the free city took the sword; and he gave the King such a
blow that I felt it on my arm. This the noble Queen, who stood near me,
remarked, and said to the knight of the free city: 'Istemere nem
misertem!' that is to say, 'For God's sake do not hurt him!' to which
he replied: 'Nem;' that is to say, 'No,' and laughed. Then the right
reverend prelate, the Archbishop of Gran, took the holy oil, and
anointed the noble child, King; and the dress of cloth of gold, such as
is worn by kings, was put on the noble child; and the archbishop took
the holy crown and placed it on his head; and thus he, King Albrecht's
son, grandson of the Emperor Sigismund, who throughout all holy
Christendom is recognized as King Lassla, was crowned at Weissenburg by
the Archbishop of Gran, with the holy crown, on Whitsunday. For there
are three laws in the kingdom of Hungary which must not be departed
from, as without them no king is deemed legally crowned. One of these
is, that a king of Hungary must be crowned with the holy crown; another
that it must be done by the Archbishop of Gran; and the third, that it
shall take place at Weissenburg. When the archbishop placed the crown
on the head of the noble King Lassla, he held his head quite upright
with the strength of a child of a year old, which is seldom to be seen
in children of twelve weeks. After the noble King, seated in my arms,
had been crowned at the altar of St. Stephen, I carried him up a small
staircase to a high gallery, according to custom, and the prescribed
ritual for the festival was read; but there being no golden cloth for
the King to sit on, after the old usage, I took for the purpose a red
and gold cover lined with ermine from his cradle; and whilst the noble
King was held upon the golden cloth, Count Ulric von Eily held the
crown over his head during the chanting of the office.

"The noble King had little pleasure in his coronation, for he wept
aloud, so that all in church heard him; and the common people were
astonished, and said, 'It was not the voice of a child of twelve weeks;
it might be taken for that of a child of a year old, which, however, he
was not. Then knighthood was conferred by Miklosch Weida on behalf of
the noble King Lassla. When the office was completed I carried the
noble King down again, and laid him in the cradle, for he was very
tired from sitting so long upright. Then he was borne to St. Peter's
church, where I was again obliged to take him out of his cradle and
place him on a chair, as it is the custom for every king when crowned
to be seated there. Again I carried his Highness down and laid him in
his cradle; and he was taken from St. Peter's church, followed by his
noble family on foot, back to the inn. The only one who rode was Count
von Eily, for he had to hold the holy crown over the head of the noble
King, that every one might see it was the holy crown which had been
placed on the head of the holy St. Stephen and other Hungarian Kings.
Count Bartholomä carried the orb, and the Duke von Lindbach the
sceptre; a legate's staff was borne before the noble King, because he
did not hold any part of Hungary on feudal tenure from the holy Roman
Empire; and the sword with which his Highness had been knighted was
also carried before him, and pence were scattered among the people. The
noble Queen was so humble and showed such respect to her son, that I,
poor woman, had to walk before her, next to the noble King, because I
had held his Highness in my arms at the anointing and coronation. When
the noble King had arrived at the inn, he was put to rest, as his
Highness was very tired. The lords and all others went away, and the
noble Queen remained alone with her son. Then I knelt down before her,
and reminded her of the service which I had rendered to her Highness
and the noble King; and also to her other children and members of the
royal family. Thereupon the noble Queen gave me her hand and said,
'Rise up, and if please God our affairs prosper, I will exalt you and
your whole race. You have well deserved it, for you have done for me
and my children what I myself could not have done.' Then I inclined
myself humbly, and thanked her Highness for her kind encouragement."

Thus far Helen Kottenner. History tells us in what consternation the
party of King Wladislaus of Poland was placed by the robbery of the
crown, and also how the crown itself was mortgaged by the Queen to the
Emperor Frederick III., but of the after life of Helen Kottenner we
know nothing.

What interests us most in this narrative is the night scene in which
the holy crown of Hungary is purloined, and the mental struggles of a
strong female character. But these inward struggles and scruples of
conscience assume to the daughter of the fifteenth century a palpable
form: they become to her an outward reality that mysteriously assails
her. Her soul is not tormented with thoughts alone that accuse and
excuse each other, but with delusive appearances that strike her with

This activity of the senses, which clothes with an appearance of
outward life all that rises in the soul, of the fearful and
incomprehensible, is generally and peculiarly characteristic of the
early life of every people. The souls of individuals are not
sufficiently free to enable them to understand the inward struggles of
their own minds: they begin by contending against what torments them,
as if it were an outward form or enemy. Such were the noble struggles
of Luther; and when the incomparable English poet of the sixteenth
century caused his tragic hero to struggle with the apparitions of
murdered men, and with the dagger which was the implement of his crime,
this conception, which we consider as a highly poetical and spiritual
creation, had a far deeper truth for him and his spectators.

                              CHAPTER III.

                        THE TRAVELLING STUDENT.
                      (1509, and following years.)

The fifteenth century passed away. To us Germans it appears an
introduction to the great events of the following one,--a period of
earnest but imperfect striving towards improvement. The excitement of
the masses in the great half-Sclave population of the Roman empire had
brought death and destruction over the German provinces, and the
fanaticism of the Hussites had appeared to exhaust itself in the
burning ruins of hundreds of cities and villages; but the same feeling
had stirred the hearts of two generations, and in the next century the
flame again blazed forth, more powerful and unquenchable, a pillar of
fire to all Europe. The house of Luxemburg had passed away; its last
heirs had mortgaged the Hungarian crown to the Austrian Hapsburgers,
and bequeathed to them their claims to the wide and insecure
acquisitions of their race. In the next century Charles V. made them
the greatest dynasty of the world. It was a century of strife and
reckless egotism, and on all sides arose knightly associations and
confederacies; but it was also a time when the German mind, having
become more practical in its tendencies, arrived at the greatest of all
new discoveries,--the art of printing; when, in spite of fighting on
the highways and bloody quarrels within the cities, commerce and trade
began to flourish; when citizens and peasants acquired the habits of
regular soldiers; when the German merchant established his supremacy on
the northern seas, while the Italian navigator pressed on through the
mists of boundless oceans, to unknown regions of the earth; finally, it
was the time in which the Alpine mules bore, together with the spices
of the East and the papal bulls, the manuscripts of a foreign nation,
by means of which a new enlightenment was spread over Germany,--the
early dawn of modern life.

With the sixteenth century began the greatest spiritual movement that
ever roused a nation. This century has for ever impressed its seal on
the spirit and temper of the German people. A wonderful time, in which
a great nation anxiously yearning after its God, sought peace for the
burdened soul, and a moral and mental aim for a life hitherto so poor
and joyless.

This effort of the popular mind to found a new collective life by a
deep apprehension of the eternal, produced a political development in
Germany which is strikingly distinct from that of other nations. The
whole powers of the nation were so engrossed in this passionate
struggle, that it sank into a state of extreme exhaustion: the
political concentration of Germany was delayed for centuries; most
fearful civil wars were followed by a deathlike lassitude; German was
divided from German, and a deep chasm was formed between the new and
the middle ages. The result was, that a large portion of the German
people, who might carry back their history in uninterrupted continuity
up to the struggles of Arius and Arminus, now regard the time of the
Hohenstaufen, and even the imperial government of the first Maximilian,
as a dark tradition; for their state polity, their rights, and their
municipal laws are hardly as old as those of the free states of North
America. The oldest of the proud nations that arose from the ruins of
the Roman empire, is now in many respects the youngest member of the
European family. But whatever may have been the influence of the
sixteenth century on the political formation of the fatherland, every
German should look back to it with respect, for we owe to it all which
now is our hope and pride; our power of self-sacrifice, our morality
and freedom of mind, an irresistible impulse for truth, our art, and
our unrivalled system of science, and lastly, the great obligation
which our ancestors have imposed upon us of accomplishing what they
failed in. It is especially now, in the midst of a political struggle
for German national life, that it would be useful to us to consider how
this struggle began three centuries and a half ago.

Whoever attempts to examine the German mind at the beginning of the
sixteenth century, will observe a secret restlessness, something like
that of migratory birds when spring approaches; this indefinite impulse
reproduced frequently the old German love of wandering. Many causes
combined to make the poor restless and desirous of novelty. The number
of vagrants, young and old, such as pedlers, pilgrims, beggars, and
travelling students, was very great; many of the adventurers went to
France, but the greater part to Italy.

Wonderful reports came from distant lands. Beyond the Mediterranean,
in the countries contiguous to Jerusalem (which was annually visited by
the German pilgrims), a new race and a new and obnoxious religion had
spread itself. Every pilgrim who came from the south related in the
hostelries tales of the warlike power of the Turks, of their polygamy,
of the Christian children whom they stole and brought up as slaves,
and of danger to the Christian islands and seaports. On the other hand
the fancy was led from the terrors of endless seas to the new gold
lands,--countries like paradise, coloured tribes who knew nothing of
God, and endless booty and dominion for believing Christians. To this
was added the news from Italy itself,--how discontented the inhabitants
were with the pope, how wanton the simony, and how wicked the princes
of the Church.

And those who brought these tidings into the city and country were no
longer timid traders or poor pilgrims, but sunburnt hardy troopers,
bold in aspect, and well accoutred; children of neighbours, and
trustworthy men, who had accompanied the Emperor as mercenaries to
Italy, where they had fought with Italians, Spaniards, and Swiss, and
now returned home with all kinds of booty, gold in their purses, and
the golden chains of knighthood round their necks. The youths of the
village gazed with respect on the warrior who thrust his halberd into
the ground before the inn, and took possession of the rooms for himself
and his guests, as if he were a nobleman or a prince; for he, the
peasant's son, had trodden under foot Italian knights, and dipped deep
into the money coffers of Italian princes; had obtained full
dispensation from the Pope for his deeds, and, it was even whispered, a
secret blessing which made him invulnerable. The lower orders began for
the first time to have an idea of their own strength and capacities;
they felt that they also were men; the hunting-spear hung in their
huts, and they carried the long knife in their belt. But what was their
position at home? The use of their hands and their teams was required
by the landed nobleman for his fields; to him belonged the forest and
the game within it, and the fish in their waters; and when the peasant
died, his heir was obliged to give up the best of his herd, or its
worth in money. In every feud in which the nobleman was engaged they
were the victims: the enemy's soldiers fell upon their cattle, and they
themselves were shot down with arrows, and imprisoned in dark dungeons
till they were able to pay ransom. The Church also sought after their
sheaves and concealed money. Dishonest, cunning, and voluptuous were
the deans, who rode through their villages, falcon on hand, with
troopers and damsels; the priests, whom the peasants could neither
choose nor dismiss, seduced their wives, or lived scandalously at home.
The mendicant monks forced their way into their kitchens, and demanded
the smoked meats from their chimneys, and the eggs from their baskets.
All the communities throughout Southern Germany were in a state of
silent fermentation, and already, at the end of the fifteenth century,
local risings had begun, the forerunners of the Peasant war.

But more wonderful still was the influence of the new art, through
which the poorest might acquire knowledge and learning. The method of
multiplying written words by thousands was discovered on the banks of
the Rhine in the middle of the fifteenth century. The printing of
patterns by means of wooden blocks had been practised for many
centuries, and frequently single pages of writing had in this way been
struck off; at last it occurred to a citizen that whole books might be
printed with cast metal type. Its first effect was to give intelligence
to the industry of the artisan, and a way was thus opened to the people
of turning their mental acquirements to profit.

The learning of the middle ages still occupied the professors' chairs
at the German universities, but it was without soul, and consisted in
dry forms and scholastic subtleties. There was little acquaintance with
the ancient languages, Hebrew and Greek were almost unknown; the solid
learning of the olden times was taught in bad monkish Latin; the Bible
and Fathers of the Church, the Roman historians, institutes and
pandects, the Greek text of Aristotle, and the writers upon natural
philosophy and medicine, were found only in dusty manuscripts; nothing
but the commentators and systematizers of the middle ages were ever
expounded or learnt by heart. Such was the state of things in Germany.
But in Italy, for more than a century, mental cultivation had begun,
from the study of Roman and Greek poets, historians, and philosophers.
The men of high intellect on the other side of the Alps rejoiced in the
beauty of the Latin language and poetry, admired the acute logic of
Cicero, and regarded with astonishment the powerful life of the Roman
people. Their whole literature entwined itself, like the tendrils of a
creeper, round the antique stem. It was soon after the invention of
printing, and during the war carried on by the Germans in the
Peninsula, that this new Humanitarian learning was gradually introduced
into Germany. The Latin language, which appeared to the Germans like a
new discovery, was industriously studied in the classical schools, and
disseminated through the means of manuals. The close attention and long
labour necessary in Germany to acquire the foreign grammar, acted as
discipline to the mind. Acuteness and memory were strongly exercised;
the logical construction of the language was more attended to than the
phonetic; the grandeur and wisdom of the subject, more than the beauty
and elegance of the style: the German mind required more exercise,
therefore the result was more lasting, because the mastery had to be
gained over two languages of different roots. A number of earnest
teachers first spread the new learning; among these were Jacob
Wimpfeling and Alexander Hegius, Crato of Udenheim, Sapidus, and
Michael Hilspach. To these may be added the poets Henry Bebel and
Conrade Celtes, Ulrich Zasius the lawyer, and others; in close union
with them were to be found all the men of powerful talent in Germany;
Sebastian Brand, author of Narrenschiffs, and also the great preacher
John Geiler of Kaisersberg, although he had been brought up in the
scholastic teaching.

They were sometimes led by their knowledge of ancient philosophy into
secret speculations upon the being of God, and all were opposed to the
corruptions of the Romish Church; but their opposition differed from
that of Italy in this respect, that the German mind gave it more
elevation. It is true that many of the Humanitarian teachers considered
the German language as barbarous; they Latinized their names, and in
their confidential letters took the liberty of calling their countrymen
unpolished; they hated the despotic arrogance with which the Romish
priests looked down upon them and their nation; yet they did not cease
to be good Christians. Besides their unceasing attacks on the vices of
the Italian priesthood, they ventured, though with hesitation and
caution, upon an historical critique on the foundation of the claims of
the Papacy. They were united in bonds of friendship, and formed one
large community. Bitterly persecuted by the representatives of the old
scholastic school, they nevertheless gained allies everywhere,--in the
burgher houses of the Imperial cities, in the courts of the Princes, in
the entourage of the Emperor, and even in the cathedral chapters and on
the Episcopal thrones.

The mental culture of these men, however, could not keep a lasting hold
on German life; its groundwork was too foreign to the real needs of the
mental life of the people; its ideal, which it had gathered from
antiquity, was too vague and arbitrary; its fantastical occupation with
a bygone world, of whose real meaning they knew so little, was not
favourable to the development of their character. Some indeed became
forerunners in the struggle of faith, but others, offended by the
roughness and narrowness of the new teaching, fell back to the old
Church which they had before so severely judged. One of this school,
the enthusiastic and high-minded Ulrich von Hutten, who was
passionately German, and attached to the teaching of Luther, suffered
for his devotion to the popular cause.

In the beginning of the century, however, the Humanitarians carried on
almost alone the struggle against the oppression under which the nation
groaned. They exercised a powerful influence on the minds of the
multitude; even what they wrote in Latin was not lost upon them, and
the rhymesters of the cities were never weary of propagating the
witticisms and bitter attacks of the Humanitarians in the form of
proverbs, jocose stories, and plays.

The desire for learning became powerful amongst the people. Children
and half-grown boys rushed from the most distant valleys into the
unknown world to seek for knowledge; wherever there was a Latin school
established, there the children of the people congregated, often
undergoing the greatest sufferings and hardships, demoralized by the
uncertainty of their daily life; for though the founders and managers
of the schools, or the burghers of the cities, gave these strangers
sometimes a roof over their heads, and beds to lie on, they were
obliged for the most part to beg for their daily subsistence.
Little control was exercised over them; only one thing was strictly
enjoined,--that there should be some method in the lawlessness of their
life; it was only under appointed forms, and in certain districts of
the city, that they were allowed to beg. When the travelling scholar
came to a place where there was a Latin school, he was bound to join
the association of scholars, that he might not make claims on the
benevolence of the inhabitants, to the prejudice of the schoolmaster or
of those already there. An organization was formed among these
scholars, as was always the case where Germans assembled together in
the middle ages, and a code was established, containing many customs
and demoralizing laws, with which every one was obliged to comply;
besides this there was the rough poetry of an adventurous life, which
few could go through without injury to their characters in after life.
The younger scholars, called Schützen, were, like the apprentices of
artisans, bound to perform the most humiliating offices for their older
comrades, the Bacchanten: they had to beg and even to steal for their
tyrants, who in return gave them the protection of their strength. It
was considered honourable and advantageous for a Bacchant to have many
Schützen, who obtained gifts from the benevolent, on which he lived;
but when the rough Bacchant rose to the university, he was paid off for
all the tyrannical injustice he had practised towards the younger
scholars: he had to lay aside his school dress and rude manners, was
received into the distinguished society of students with humiliating
ceremonies, and was obliged in his turn to render service and to bear
rude jests like a slave. The scholars were perpetually changing their
schools, for with many the loitering on the high roads was the main
object; their youth was passed in wild roving from school to school, in
begging, theft, and dissoluteness. Whilst we rejoice in finding a few
individuals who, by strength of mind and ability, rose through all this
to intellectual preeminence, we must bear in mind how many a pet child
died miserably under some hedge, or in the lazar-house of a foreign
city, whose youthful minds had looked forward with hope to reaching the
same goal.

The instruction in the Latin schools was very deficient, for a book was
a rare treasure: the boys had often to copy the text for themselves,
and the old grammar of Donat still served as the groundwork by which
they learned to read Latin. There was still much useless scholastic
pedantry, and what was then admired as elegant Latin, has somewhat of a
monkish flavour. But the great teacher Wimpfeling took every
opportunity of selecting examples which might excite the boys to
honesty, integrity, and the fear of God; he endeavoured to impart not
merely the knowledge of forms, or the subtle distinctions of words, but
the spirit that flows from the ancients. The mind was to be ennobled;
intellect and faith were to be advanced; learning was to act as a
preservative against war, to promote peace, the greatness of states,
and the reformation of the Catholic Church, for its object was
knowledge of the truth.

Some idea of the life of a travelling student has been preserved to us
in the description of Thomas Platter, the poor shepherd boy from
Visperthale, in the Valais, later a renowned printer and schoolmaster
at Basle; his autobiography has been published by Dr. Fechter, Basle,
1840. In those days no travellers in search of the picturesque had
begun to roam in the wild mountain valley from which the Visp rushes
towards the Rhone, nor to visit Zermatt, the Matterhorn, and the
glaciers of Monte Rosa. The shepherd boy grew up amidst the rocks, with
no companions but his goats; his herd straying into a corn-field, or an
eagle hovering threateningly above him, his climbing a steep rock, or
being punished by his severe master, were the only events of his
childhood; how he was cast out into the wide world from his solitude he
shall himself relate.

"When I was with the farmer, one of my aunts, named Frances, came to
see me; she wished me, she said, to go to my cousin, Herr Anthony
Platter, to learn the Scriptures; thus they speak when they want one to
go to school. The farmer was not well pleased at this; he told her I
should learn nothing: he placed the forefinger of his right hand in the
middle of the left, and went on to say, 'The lad will learn about as
much, as I can push my finger through there.' This I saw and heard.
Then said my aunt: 'Who knows? God has not denied him gifts; he may yet
become a pious priest.' So she took me to that gentleman. I was, if I
remember right, about nine or ten years old. First it fared ill with
me, for he was a choleric man, and I but an unapt peasant lad. He beat
me cruelly, and ofttimes dragged me by the ears out of the house, which
made me scream like a goat into which the knife had been stuck; so that
the neighbours oft talked of him as if he wished to murder me.

"I was not long with him, for just at that time my cousin came, who had
been to the schools at Ulm and Munich, in Bavaria; the name of this
student was Paulus of Summermatten. My relations had told him of me,
and he promised that he would take me with him to the schools in
Germany. When I heard this I fell on my knees, and prayed God Almighty
that He would preserve me from the 'Pfaffs,'[17] who taught me almost
nothing and beat me lamentably, for I had learned only to sing a little
of the Salve, and to beg for eggs with the other scholars, who were
with the Pfaff in the village.

"When Paulus was to begin his wanderings again, I was to go to him at
Stalden. Simon, my mother's brother, dwelt at Summermatten, on the road
to Stalden: he gave me a gold florin, which I carried in my little hand
to Stalden. I looked often on the way to see that I still had it, and
gave it to Paulus. Then we departed into the country, and I had to beg
for myself, and to give of what I got to my Bacchant Paulus: on account
of my simplicity and countrified language, much was given to me. At
night going over the Grimsel Mountain we came to an inn; I had never
seen a _kachelofen_,[18] and as the moon shone on the tiles, I imagined
it was a great calf: I saw only two tiles shining, which were, I
imagined, the eyes. In the morning I saw geese. I had never seen any
before, and when they hissed at me I thought they were devils, and
would eat me; so I cried out and ran away. At Lucerne I saw the first
tiled roofs.

"Afterwards we went to Meissen: it was a long journey for me, as I was
not accustomed to travel so far and to obtain food on the road. There
were eight or nine of us travelling together; three small Schützen, the
others great Bacchanten, as they are called; amongst all these I was
the smallest and youngest. When I could not keep up well, my cousin
Paulus came behind me with a rod, or little stick, and switched me on
my bare legs, for I had no stockings, and bad shoes. I do not remember
all that happened to us on the road. Once when we were talking together
on the journey, the Bacchanten said it was the custom in Meissen and
Silesia for the scholars to steal geese and ducks, and other such food;
and nothing was done to them on that account, if they could escape from
those to whom the things belonged. One day, when not far from a
village, we saw a large flock of geese, and the herdsman was not with
them; then I inquired of my fellow-Schützen when we should be in
Meissen; as then I thought I might venture to kill the geese; they
answered, 'Now we are there.' So I took a stone, threw it at one of the
geese, and hit it on the leg; the others flew away, but the lamed one
could not rise. I took another stone, and hit it on the head, so that
it fell down. I ran up and caught the goose by the neck, carried it
under my coat, and went along the road through the village. Then came
the gooseherd running after me, and called aloud in the village, 'The
boy has stolen my goose!' I and my fellow-Schützen fled away, and the
feet of the goose hung out behind my coat. The peasants came out with
spears to throw at us, and ran after us. When I saw that I could not
escape with the goose, I let it fall, and sprang out of the road into
the bushes; but two of my fellows ran along the street, and were
overtaken by two peasants. Then they fell down on their knees, and
asked for mercy, as they had done them no harm; and when the peasants
saw that it was not they who had killed the goose, they returned to the
village, taking the goose with them. But when I saw how they hastened
after my fellows, I was in great trouble, and said to myself: 'Ah, my
God! I think I have not blessed myself this day.' (For I had been
taught to bless myself every morning.) When the peasants returned to
the village, they found our Bacchanten in the public-house, for these
had gone forward; and the peasants desired that they would pay for the
goose: it would have been about two batzen; but I know not whether or
no they paid. When they joined us again, they laughed, and asked how it
had happened. I excused myself, as I had imagined it was the custom of
the country; to which they said it was not yet the right moment.

"Another time a murderer came to us in the wood, eleven miles on this
side of Nuremberg, who wished to play with our Bacchanten, that he
might delay us till his fellows joined him; but we had an honest fellow
amongst us called Anthony Schallbether, who warned the murderer to
leave us, which he did. Now it was so late that we could hardly get to
the village; there were very few houses, but there were two taverns.
When we came to one of these the murderer was there before us, and
others besides, without doubt his comrades; so we would not remain
there, and went to the other public-house. As they themselves had
already that night had their food, every one was so busy in the house,
they would not give anything to us little lads; for we never sat at
table to our meals; neither would they take us to a bedroom; but we
were obliged to lie in the stable. But when they were taking the bigger
ones to their bedroom, Anthony said to the host: 'Host, methinks you
have strange guests, and are not much better yourself. I tell you what,
place us in safety, or we will treat you in such a way that you will
find your house too narrow for you.' When they had taken them to rest
(I and the other little boys were lying in the stable without supper),
some persons came in the night to their room, perhaps among them the
host himself, and would have opened the door; but Anthony had put a
screw before the lock inside, placed his bed before the door and struck
a light; for he had always wax tapers and a tinder-box by him, and he
quickly woke up the other fellows. When the rogues heard that, they
made off. In the morning we found neither host nor servants. When they
told us boys about it, we were all glad that nothing had happened to us
in the stable. After we had gone from thence about a mile, we met with
people, who when they heard where we had passed the night, were
surprised that we had not all been murdered; for almost all the
villagers were suspected of being murderers.

"Our Bacchanten treated us so badly that some of us told my cousin
Paulus we should escape from them; so we went to Dresden; but here
there was no good school, and the sleeping apartments for strange
scholars were full of lice, so that we heard them at night crawl on the
straw. We then left and went on to Breslau: we suffered much from
hunger on the road, having nothing for some days to eat but raw onions
and salt, or roasted acorns and crabs. Many nights we lay in the open
air; for no one would receive us into their houses or at the inns, and
often they set the dogs upon us. But when we arrived at Breslau,
everything was in abundance; indeed so cheap that we poor scholars
overate ourselves, and frequently made ourselves ill. We went at first
to the chapter school of the Holy Cross, but when we found that there
were some Swiss in the parsonage house at St. Elizabeth, we went there.
The city of Breslau has seven parishes, and each its separate school:
no scholar ventured to sing in another parish; if he did the cry of 'Ad
idem, ad idem,' was raised, and the Schützen collected together and
fought. It is said that there were at one time some thousands of
Bacchanten and Schützen who all lived on alms; it is also said that
some of them who were twenty or thirty years old, or even more, had
their Schützen who supported them. I have often of an evening carried
home to the school where they lived, for my Bacchanten, five or six
meals. People gave to me willingly because I was little, and a Swiss,
for they loved the Swiss.

"There I remained for some time, as I was very ill that winter, and
they were obliged to take me to the hospital; the scholars had their
own especial hospital and doctors, and sixteen hellers a week are given
at the town hall for the use of the sick, which provided for us well.
We were well nursed and had good beds, but there were lice therein,
beyond belief, as big as hempseed, so that I and others would much
rather have lain on the floor than in the beds. It is hardly possible
to believe how the scholars and Bacchanten were covered with lice. I
have ofttimes, especially in the summer, gone to wash my shirt in the
water of the Oder, and hung it on a bush to dry; and in the mean time
cleared my coat of the lice, buried the heap, and placed a cross over
the spot. In the winter the Schützen used to lie on the hearth in the
school; but the Bacchanten lived in small rooms, of which there were
some hundreds at St. Elizabeth; but during the summer, when it was hot,
we lay in the churchyard, like pigs in straw, on grass which we
collected from before the houses of the principal streets, where it was
spread on Sundays; but when it rained we ran into the school, and if
there was a storm we chanted almost all night the responsoria and other
things with the succentor. We often went in summer after supper to the
beerhouses to beg for beer: they gave us the strong Polish peasant
beer, which, before I was aware of it, made me so drunk that even when
within a stone's throw from the school I could not find my way to it.
In short, we got sufficient nourishment, but little study.

"In the school of St. Elizabeth, nine bachelors always read together at
the same hour in one room, for there were no printed Greek books in the
country at that time; the preceptor alone had a printed Terence: what
was read, therefore, had first to be dictated, then parsed and
construed, and lastly explained; so that the Bacchanten when they went
away carried with them large sheets of writing.

"From thence our eight went off again to Dresden, and fell into great
want. We determined therefore one day to divide ourselves; some were to
look out for geese, some for turnips and onions, and one for a kitchen
pot; but we little ones went to the town of Neumarkt, to get bread and
salt, and we were to meet together in the evening outside the town,
where we were to camp out, and then cook what we had. There was a well
about a stone's throw from the town, near which we wished to pass the
night; but when they saw our fire in the town, they began to shoot at
us, yet did not hit us. Then we retired behind a bank to a little
stream and grove; the big fellows lopped off branches and made a kind
of hut, some plucked the geese, of which we had two; others put the
heads and feet and the giblets into the pot, in which they had shred
the turnips, others made two wooden spits and roasted the meat; when it
had become a little brown, we ate it with the turnips. In the night we
heard a kind of flapping: we found there was a pond near us which had
been drained in the day, and the fish were struggling in the mud; then
we took as many of them as we could, in a shirt fastened on a stick,
and went away to a village, where we gave some of them to a peasant,
that he might cook the others for us in beer.

"Soon after we went again from thence to Ulm, there Paulus took with
him another lad called Hildebrand Kalbermatter, son of a Pfaff: he was
quite young, and had some cloth given to him, such as is made in that
country, for a little coat. When we came to Ulm, Paul desired me to go
about with the cloth begging for money to pay for its making up; in
this way I got much money, for I was well accustomed to begging in
God's name, for the Bacchanten had constantly employed me in this, so
that I had hardly ever been taken to school, and not once taught to
read. Going thus seldom to the school, and having to give up to the
Bacchanten all I got by going round with the cloth, I suffered much
from hunger.

"But I must not omit to mention that there was at Ulm a pious widow,
who had two grown-up daughters; this widow had often, when I came in
the winter, wrapped up my feet in a warm fur, which she had laid behind
the stove on purpose to warm them, and gave me a dish of porridge and
sent me home. I was sometimes so hungry that I drove the dogs in the
streets away from their bones, and gnawed them; item, searched for the
crumbs out of the bag, which I ate. After that we returned again to
Munich: there also I had to beg for money to make up the cloth, which
nevertheless was not mine. The year following we went once more to Ulm,
and I brought the cloth with me, and again begged on account of it; and
I remember well that some one said to me, 'Botz Marter! is not the coat
made yet? I believe you are employed in knavish work.' We went from
thence, and I know not what happened to the cloth, or whether or no the
coat was ever made up. One Sunday, when we came to Munich, the
Bacchanten had got a lodging, but we three little Schützen had none; we
intended therefore to go at night to the corn market, in order to lie
on the corn sacks; and certain women were sitting in the street by the
salt magazine, who inquired where we were going. When they heard that
we had no lodging, a butcher's wife who was near, when she saw that we
were Swiss, said to her maid, 'Run and hang up the boiler with the
remains of the soup and meat; they shall stay with me over the night; I
like all Swiss. I served once at an inn in Innspruck, when the Emperor
Maximilian held his court there: the Swiss had much business to arrange
with him; and they were so friendly that I shall always be kind to them
as long as I live.' The woman gave us good lodging, and plenty to eat
and drink. In the morning she said to us, 'If one of you would like to
remain with me, I would give him food and lodging.' We were all willing
to do so, and inquired which she wished to have: when she had inspected
us, as I looked more bold than the others, she took me, and I had
nothing to do but to get the beer, to fetch the meat from the shambles,
and to go with her sometimes to the field; but still I had to provide
for the Bacchant. This the woman did not like, and said to me, 'Botz
Marter! let the Bacchant go, and remain with me; you shall not beg any
more.' So for a whole week I did not return to my Bacchant, nor the
school; then he came to the house of the butcher's wife, and knocked at
the door; and she said to me, 'Your Bacchant is there; say that you are
ill.' She let him in, and said to him, 'You are truly a fine gentleman;
you should have looked after Thomas, for he has been ill, and is so
still.' Then he said to me, 'I am sorry for it, lad: when you can go
out again, come to me.' Some time after, one Sunday, I went to vespers,
and when they were over, my Bacchant came up to me and said, 'You
Schütz, if you do not come to me, I will trample you under foot.' This
I determined he should not do, and made up my mind to run away. That
Sunday I said to the butcher's wife, 'I will go to the school and wash
my shirt.' I dared not tell her of my intention, for I feared she would
speak of it. So I left Munich with a sorrowful heart, partly because I
was leaving my cousin, with whom I had gone so far (though he had been
so hard and unmerciful to me), and also on account of the butcher's
wife, who had treated me so kindly. I journeyed on over the river Isar,
for I feared if I went to Switzerland, Paulus would follow me, and beat
me, as he had often threatened. On the other side of the Isar there is
a hill. I seated myself on the top, looked upon the town, and wept
bitterly, because I had no longer any one to take an interest in me,
and I thought of going to Saltzburg, or Vienna, in Austria. Whilst I
was sitting there a peasant came with a waggon, which had carried salt
to Munich: he was already drunk, though the sun had only just risen. I
begged him to let me sit in it, and I went with him till he unharnessed
the horses in order to give them and himself food; meanwhile I begged
through the village, and waiting for him not far from it, fell asleep.
When I awoke I again wept bitterly, for I thought the peasant had gone
on, and it appeared to me as if I had lost a father. Soon, however, he
came, and was still drunk, but called to me to sit in the cart, and
asked me where I wished to go; I replied, 'To Saltzburg.' When it was
evening, he turned off from the road, and said, 'Get down, there is the
road to Saltzburg.' We had gone eight miles that day. I came to a
village, and when I got up in the morning everything was white with
rime, as if it had snowed, and I had no shoes, only torn stockings, no
cap, and a scanty jacket. Thus I travelled to Passau, and intended to
get on the Danube and go to Vienna, but when I came to Passau they
would not admit me. Then I thought of going to Switzerland, and I asked
the guard at the gate the nearest way to Switzerland: he answered by
Munich. I said, 'I will not go by Munich, I had rather travel ten
miles, or even more, out of the way to avoid it.' Then he pointed out
the way by Friesingen. There was a high school there, and I found some
Swiss, who inquired of me from whence I came? In the course of a few
days Paulus arrived: the Schützen told me that the Bacchant from Munich
was looking for me. I ran out of the gate as if he had been behind me,
and travelled to Ulm, where I went to the widow's house, who had so
kindly warmed my feet, and she received me, and I was to guard the
turnips in the field, and did not go to school. Some weeks after, a
companion of Paul's came to me, and said, 'Your cousin is here, and is
seeking for you.' He had followed me for eighteen miles, as he had lost
in me a good provider, I having supported him for some years. When I
heard this, although it was night, I ran out of the gate towards
Constance. I again wept bitterly, for I was sorry to leave the kind

"I crossed the lake, and arrived at Constance; and as I went over the
bridge I saw some of the Swiss peasant girls with their white
petticoats. Oh my God, how glad I was! I thought I was in heaven. When
I came to Zurich I saw there some people from the Valais, big
Bacchanten, to whom I offered my services for getting food, if they in
return would teach me; but I learned no more with them than with the
others. After some months Paulus sent his Schütz Hildebrand from
Munich, to desire me to return to him, and said he would forgive me;
but I would not go back, and remained at Zurich, where however I
studied little.

"One Antonius Venetz from Visp in the Valais persuaded me to go with
him to Strasburg. When we arrived there we found many poor scholars,
but no good school; there was however a very good one at Schlettstadt,
so we went there. In the city we took a lodging with an old couple, one
of whom was stone blind; then we went to my dear preceptor, the late
Johannes Sapidus, and begged him to receive us. He asked from whence we
came, and when we said out of Switzerland, from the Valais, he
answered, 'The peasants there are bad, for they drive all their Bishops
out of the country; if, however, you study industriously, I will take
little from you, if not, you must pay me, or I will take the coat off
your back.' That was the first school in which it appeared to me that
things went on well. At that time learning, especially that of
languages, was gaining ground--it was the year of the Diet at Worms.
Sapidus had once nine hundred students, some of them fine scholars, who
afterwards became doctors and men of renown.

"When I came to this school I knew little, could not even read the
Donat. Though I was eighteen years old, I was placed among the little
children, and looked like a hen amidst her small chickens. One day when
Sapidus called over the list of the scholars, he said, 'I find many
barbarous names, I must try to Latinize them.' He then called over the
new names: he had turned me into Thomas Platterus, and my fellow,
Anthony Venetz into Antonius Venetus, and said, 'Which are the two?' We
stood up and he exclaimed, 'Poof! what measly Schützen to have such
fine names!' this was partly true, especially of my companion, for I
was more accustomed to the change of air and food.

"When we had stayed there from autumn to the following Whitsuntide, a
great many fresh scholars arrived, so that there was not sufficient to
support us all; and we went off to Solothurn, where there was a
tolerably good school, and more food; but we were obliged to be so
constantly in church that we lost all our time; therefore we returned

"The following spring I went off again with my two brothers. When we
took leave of our mother, she wept and said, 'Am I not to be pitied, to
have three sons going to lead this miserable life?' It was the only
time I ever saw my mother cry, for she was a brave, strong-minded
woman, respected by every one as honourable, upright, and pious.

"I came to Zurich, and went to the school of the monastery of our Lady.
About this time it was reported that a thoroughly good and learned but
severe schoolmaster was coming from Einsiedeln. I seated myself in a
corner not far from the schoolmaster's chair, and I thought to myself,
in this corner will I study or die. When he (Father Myconius) entered,
he said, 'This is a fine school (it had only just been built); but
methinks you are a set of ignorant boys: but I will have patience with
you, if you will only be industrious.' I knew that if it had cost me my
life I could not have declined a word, even of the first declension;
but I could repeat the Donat by heart from beginning to end, for when I
was in Schlettstadt, Sapidus had a bachelor who plagued the Bacchanten
so grievously with the Donat, that I thought it must be such a good
book, I had better learn it by heart. I got on well with Father
Myconius: he read Terence to us, and we had to conjugate and decline
every word of a whole play; and it often happened that my shirt became
quite wet, and my sight seemed to fail me with fear; and yet he had
never given me a blow, except once with the back of his hand on my
cheek. He read also the Holy Scriptures, and to these readings many of
the laity came, for it was the time when the light of the holy Gospel
was beginning to dawn. If at any time he was severe with me, he would
take me home and give me something to eat, and he liked to hear me
relate how I had gone all through Germany, and how it had fared with

"Myconius was obliged to go with his pupils to church at the monastery
of our Lady, to sing at vespers, matins, and mass, and conduct the
chanting. He said to me once, 'Custos (for I was his custos), I would
rather hold four lectures than sing one mass. Dear son, if you would
sometimes chant the easy masses for me, requiems, and the like, I will
requite it to you.' I was well content with this, for I had been
accustomed to it, and everything was still regulated in the popish
manner. As custos, I had often not enough wood to burn in the school,
so I observed which of the laymen who came to it had piles of wood in
front of their houses: there I went about midnight and secretly carried
off wood to the school. One morning I had no wood; Zwinglius was to
preach at the monastery early that morning, and when they were ringing
the bells, I said to myself, 'Thou hast no wood, and there are so many
images in the church that no one cares about them.' So I went to the
nearest altar in the church, and carried off a St. John, and took him
to the stove in the school, and said to him, '_Jögli_, now thou must
bend and go into the stove.' When he began to burn, the paint made a
great hissing and crackling, and I told him to keep quiet, and said,
'If thou movest, which however thou wilt not do, I will close the door
of the stove: thou shalt not get out unless the devil carry thee away.'
In the mean time came Myconius' wife; she was going to hear the sermon
in the church, and in passing by the door, said, 'God be with you, my
child, have you heated the stove?' I closed the door of the stove, and
answered, 'Yes, mother, I have already warmed it;' but I would not tell
her how, for she might have tattled about it, and had it been known, it
would have cost me my life. Myconius said to me in the course of the
lesson, 'Custos, you have had good wood to-day.' When we were beginning
to chant the mass, two Pfaffs were disputing together in the church;
the one to whom the St. John belonged said to the other, 'You rogue,
you have stolen my St. John;' and this dispute they carried on for some

"Although it appeared to me that there was something not quite right
about Popery, I still intended to become a priest. I wished to be
pious, to administer my office faithfully, and to ornament my altar. I
prayed much, and fasted more than was good for me. I had also my saints
and patrons, and prayed to each for something especial; to our Lady,
that she would be my intercessor with her child; to St. Catherine, that
she would help me to learning; to St. Barbara, that I might not die
without the sacrament; and to St. Peter, that he would open the door of
heaven to me; and I wrote down in a little book what prayers I had
neglected. When I had leave of absence from the school on Thursdays or
Saturdays, I went into a confessional chair in the monastery, and wrote
the omitted prayers on a chair, and counted out every sin one after
another; then rubbed them out, and thought I had done my duty. I went
six times from Zurich with processions to Einsiedeln, and was diligent
in confession. I often contended with my associates for the Papacy,
till one day M. Ulrich Zwinglius preached on this text from the gospel
of St. John:--'I am the good shepherd.' He explained it so forcibly,
that I felt as if my hair stood on end; and he showed how God will
demand the souls of the lost sheep at the hands of those shepherds who
caused their perdition. I thought, if that is the true meaning, then
adieu to priestcraft, I will never be a Pfaff. I continued my studies,
began to dispute with my companions, listened assiduously to the
sermons and to my preceptor Myconius. There still continued to be mass
and images at Zurich."

Thus far Thomas Platter. His struggle in life lasted some time longer:
he had to learn rope-making in order to support himself; he studied at
night, and when Andreas Kratander, the printer at Basle, had sent him a
Plautus, he fastened the separate sheets on the rope by means of a
wooden prong, and read whilst he was working. Later he became a
corrector of the press, then citizen and printer, and lastly rector of
the Latin school at Basle. The unsettled life of his childhood was not
without its influence on the character of the man; for however great
his capacities, he displayed neither energy nor perseverance in his

It was among the thousands who, like the boy Thomas, thronged to the
Latin schools, that the new movement won its most zealous followers.
These children of the people carried from house to house with unwearied
activity their new ideas and information. Many of them never arrived at
the university; they endeavoured to support themselves by private
tuition, or as correctors of the press. Most of the city, and in later
times the village schools were occupied by those who could read Virgil,
and understand the bitter humour of the Klagebriefes, _de miseria
plebenorum_. So great were their numbers that the reformers soon urged
them to learn, however late, some trade, in order to maintain
themselves honestly. Many members of guilds in the German cities were
qualified to furnish commentaries to the papal bulls, and translate
them to their fellow-citizens; and subtle theological questions were
eagerly discussed in the drinking-rooms. Great was the influence
exercised by these men on the small circles around them. Some years
afterwards they, together with the poor students of divinity who spread
themselves as preachers over all Germany, became a great society; and
it was these democrats of the new teaching who represented the Pope as
antichrist in the popular plays, harangued the armed multitudes of
insurgent peasants, and made war on the old Church in printed
discourses, popular songs, and coarse dialogues.

In this way they made preparation for what was coming. But however
clearly it had been shown by the Humanitarians that the Church had in
many places falsified the Holy Scriptures, however humorously they had
derided the tool of the Inquisition--the baptized Jew Pfefferkorn, with
his pretty little wife--and however zealously the small school teachers
had carried among the people the colloquies of Erasmus on fasting, &c.,
and his work on the education of children, yet it was not their new
learning alone that gave birth to the Reformation and the spiritual
freedom of Germany. Deeper lay the sources of this mighty stream; it
sprang from the foundation of the German mind, and was brought to light
by the secret longings of the heart, that it might, by the work of
destruction and renovation, transform the life of the nation.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                       ENTRANCE INTO A MONASTERY.

Great was the wickedness of the world, heavy the oppression under which
the poor suffered, coarse the greed after enjoyment, boundless the
covetousness both of ecclesiastics and laymen. Who was there to punish
the young nobleman who maltreated the peasants? who to defend the poor
citizen against the powerful family unions of the rich counsellors?
Hard was the labour of the German peasant from morning till evening,
through summer and winter; pestilence was quickly followed by famine
and hunger: the whole system of the world seemed in confusion, and
earthly life devoid of love. The only hope of deliverance from misery,
was in God; before Him all earthly power, whether of Emperor or Pope,
was weak and insignificant, and the wisdom of man was transitory as the
flower of the field. By his mercy men might be delivered from the
miseries of this life, and compensated by eternal happiness for what
they had suffered here; but how were they to obtain this mercy? by what
virtues could weak men hope to gain the endless treasure of God's
favour? Man had been doomed from the time of Adam to will the good and
do the evil. Vain were his highest virtues; inherited sin was his
curse; and if he obtained mercy from God, it was not by his own

These were the questions that then struggled within the agonized hearts
of men. But from the holy records of Scripture, which had only been a
dark tradition to the people, went forth the words; Christ is love. The
ruling Church knew little of this love; in it God was kept far from the
hearts of men: the image of the Crucified One was concealed behind
countless saints, who were all made necessary as intercessors with a
wrathful God. But the great craving of the German nature was to find
itself in close connection with the Almighty, and the longing for the
love of God was unquenchable. But the Pope maintained that he was the
only administrator of the inexhaustible merits of Christ; and the
Church also taught, that by the intercession of saints for the sins of
men, an endless treasure of good works, prayers, fasts, and penances
were made available for the blessing of others; and all these treasures
were at the disposition of the Pope, who could dispense them to whom he
chose, as a deliverance from their sins. Thus, when believers united
together in a pious community, the Pope was able to confer on such a
brotherhood the privilege of passing over from one to the other, the
merits of the saints, the surplus of prayers and masses, as well as of
good works done for the Church.

In the year 1530, Luther complained that the number of these
communities was countless.[20] An example will show how rough and
miserable their mechanism was, and the "Brotherhood of the Eleven
Thousand Virgins," called "St. Ursula's Schifflein," is selected,
because the Elector, Frederick the Wise, was one of the founders and
brothers. The collection of spiritual treasures given by statute to
enable the brotherhood to obtain eternal happiness, amounted to 6,455
masses, 3,550 entire psalters, 200,000 rosaries, 200,000 _Te Deum
Laudamus_, 1,600 _Gloria in excelsis Deo_. Besides this, 11,000 prayers
for the patroness St. Ursula, and 630 times 11,000 Paternosters and Ave
Marias; also 50 times 10,000 Paternosters and Ave Marias for 10,000
knights, &c.; and the whole redeeming power of these treasures was for
the benefit of the members of the brotherhood. Many spiritual
foundations and private persons had gained to themselves especial merit
by their great contributions to the prayer treasures. At the revival of
the society, the Elector Frederick had presented a beautiful silver
Ursula. A layman was entitled to become a member of the brotherhood if
he once in his life had repeated 11,000 Paternosters and Ave Marias: if
he repeated daily thirty-two, he gained it in a year, if sixteen, in
two, and if eight, in four years: if any one was hindered by marriage,
sickness, or business, from completing this number of prayers, he was
enabled to enter by having eleven masses read for him; and so on. Yet
this brotherhood was one of the best, for the members had not to pay
money; it was to be a brotherhood of poor people who wished only to
assist each other to heaven by mutual prayer; and we maintain that
these brotherhoods were the most spiritual part of the declining Church
of the middle ages.

The indulgences, on the other hand, were the foulest spot in its
diseased body. The Pope, as administrator of the inexhaustible treasure
of the merits of Christ, sold to believers, drafts on this store in
exchange for money. It is true that the Church itself had not entirely
lost the idea that the Pope could not himself forgive sins, but only
remit the penances the Church prescribed; those, however, who held
these views, individuals of the university and worthy village priests,
were obliged to be careful that their teaching should not come into
open collision with the business of the seller of indulgences. For what
did the right teaching of their own Church signify to the papists of
the sixteenth century? It was money that they craved for their women
and children, their relatives, and princely houses. There was a fearful
community of interests between the bishops and the fanatical members of
the mendicant orders. Nothing had made Huss and his tenets so
insupportable to them as the struggle against the sale of indulgences:
the great Wessel had been driven out of Paris into misery for teaching
repentance and grace; and it was the sellers of indulgences who caused
the venerable Johannes Vesalia to die in the prison of a monastery at
Mayence, he who first spoke the noble words, "Why should I believe what
I know?"

It is known how prevalent the traffic in indulgences became in Germany
in the beginning of the sixteenth century, and how impudently the
reckless cheating was carried on. When Tetzel, a well-fed haughty
Dominican, rode into a city with his box of indulgences, he was
accompanied by a large body of monks and priests: the bells were rung;
ecclesiastics and laymen met him, and reverentially conducted him to
the church; his great crucifix, with the holes of the nails, and the
crown of thorns, was erected in the nave, and sometimes the believers
were allowed to see the blood of the Crucified One trickling down the
cross. Church banners, on which were the arms of the Pope with the
triple crown, were placed by the cross; in front of it the cursed box,
strongly clamped with iron, and near these on one side, a pulpit from
which the monk set forth with rough eloquence the wonderful powers of
his indulgences, and showed a large parchment of the Pope's with many
seals appended to it. On the other side was the pay table, with
indulgence tickets, writing materials, and money baskets; there the
ecclesiastical coadjutors sold to the thronging people everlasting

Countless were the crimes of the Church, against which all the wounded
moral feelings of the Germans were roused. The opposition spread all
over Germany; but the man had not yet appeared, who, by a fearful
inward struggle, discerning all the griefs and longings of the people,
was preparing to become the leader of his nation, which would in his
determined character, see with enthusiasm its own mind embodied. For
two years he had been teacher of natural philosophy and dialects in the
new university of Wittenberg, and was still lying in the dust of the
Roman plains, looking with pious enthusiasm at the towers of the holy
city appearing on the verge of the horizon. In the mean while we may
learn from the experiences of a Latin scholar, what was working in the
souls of the people.

Frederick Mecum (Latinized into Myconius[22]) was the son of honest
citizens of Lichtenfelds, in Upper Franconia, and was born in 1491.
When thirteen years of age, he went to the Latin school of the then
flourishing city of Annaberg, where he experienced what we propose
giving in his own words. In 1510 he went into a monastery, and as a
Franciscan he was one of the first, most zealous, and faithful
followers of the Wittenberg professors. He left his order, became a
preacher at the new church in Thuringia, and finally pastor and
superintendent at Gotha, where he established the Reformation, and died
in 1546. The connecting link between him and Luther was of a very
peculiar nature; he was not only his most intimate friend in many
relations of private life, but there was a poetry in his connection
with him which spread a halo round his whole life. Seven years before
Luther began the Reformation, Myconius saw in a dream the vision of
that great man, who calmed the doubts of his excited heart; enlightened
by his dream, the faithful, pious German discovered in him the great
friend of every future hour. But another circumstance gives us an
interest in the narrator. However unlike, this gentle, delicately
organized man may appear to his daring friend, there was a striking
similarity in the youthful life of both, and much which is unknown to
us of Luther's youth may be explained in what Myconius relates of his
own. Both were poor scholars from a Latin school; both were driven by
their inward struggles and youthful enthusiasm into a monastery, and
found there only new doubts, greater struggles, and years of torment
and anxious uncertainty instead of that peace for which they so
passionately longed. To both was the shameless Tetzel the rock of
offence, which stirred up their minds, and determined the whole course
of their future life: finally, both died in the same year,--Myconius
seven weeks after Luther, having five years before, been restored to
life from a mortal illness by Luther's letter of invocation.[23] Few of
Frederick Myconius' works have been printed: besides theological
essays, he wrote a chronicle of his own time in German, in which he
describes with the greatest detail his own labours and the state of
Gotha. "The dream" which he had the first night after he entered the
monastery is well known, and has often been printed. In the dream the
Apostle Paul presents himself to him as his leader, and, as Myconius in
after years fancied, had the form, face, and voice of Luther. This long
dream was written in Latin, but we find a German translation of the
introduction, in a manuscript of the same date, in the Duke's library
at Gotha, from which we give the following extracts:--

"Johannis Tetzel of Pyrna in Meissen, a Dominican monk, was a powerful
preacher of the papal indulgences. He tarried two years in the then new
city of Annaberg for this object, and so deluded the people that they
all believed there was no other way to obtain forgiveness of sins and
eternal life, than by the sufficiency of our own works, which
sufficiency he added was impossible. But there was one way remaining,
namely, to obtain it by money from the Pope: so we bought the papal
indulgence, which he called forgiveness of sins and a certain entrance
into eternal life. Here I could relate wonder upon wonder, and many
incredible things which I heard preached by Tetzel for two years at
Annaberg, for he preached every day, and I listened to him assiduously.
I even repeated his sermons by heart to others; imitating his delivery
and gestures; not that I did it to ridicule him, but from my great
earnestness, for I considered it all as _oracular_, and the word of
God, which ought to be believed; and what ever came from the Pope I
considered as if it were from Christ himself.

"At last, about Whitsuntide, 1510, he threatened to take down the red
cross, close the door of heaven, and extinguish the sun, adding, that
we should never more have the opportunity of obtaining remissions of
sins and eternal life for so little money, as it could not be hoped
that this benevolent mission from the Pope would return again as long
as the world lasted. He admonished every one to take care of his soul,
and those of his friends, both living and dead, for that now was the
accepted time, now was the day of salvation. And he said, 'Let no one
neglect his own eternal happiness, for if ye have not the papal letter,
ye cannot be absolved from many sins, nor, _casibus reservatis_, by any
man.' Printed letters were publicly affixed to the walls and doors of
the church, in which it was promised that, as a token of thanks to the
German people for their piety, from henceforth till the close of the
sale, the indulgence letters and the full power of remission should be
sold at a less price; at the end of the letter, underneath, was
written, _pauperibus dentur gratis_,--to the poor who have nothing, the
letters of indulgence shall be given without money, for God's sake.

"Then I began to deal with this commissary of indulgence wares; but in
truth I was led and encouraged hereto by the Holy Spirit, although I
myself knew not at the time what I did.

"My dear father had taught me in my childhood the Ten Commandments, the
Lord's Prayer, and the Creed, and insisted upon my continually praying;
for, said he, all that we have is from God alone, and He gives it us
gratis, and He will lead and direct us if we pray to Him diligently. Of
the papal indulgences, he said, they were only nets with which money
was fished out of the pockets of the simple, and one could not
assuredly obtain for money the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
But the priests became angry when such things were said. When,
therefore, I daily heard in the sermons nothing but praise of the
indulgences, I doubted whom I should most believe, my dear father, or
the priests as teachers of the Church. But though I had doubts, I
believed more the instructions of the priests than those of my father.
The only thing I could not, however, allow, was, that the forgiveness
of sins could only be obtained by money, especially when it was
question of the poor. Therefore, the _clausula_ at the end of the papal
letter, _pauperibus gratis dentur propter Deum_, pleased me

"As at the end of three days, the cross, together with the steps and
ladder to heaven, were to be taken down with extraordinary solemnity,
the spirit led me to go to the commissary, and beg of him letters of
remission out of charity to the poor. I declared that I was a sinner,
and poor, and needed forgiveness of my sins, which I ought to receive
gratis. The second day, at the time of vespers, I entered the house of
Hans Pflock, where Tetzel with the confessors and crowd of priests were
assembled together. I accosted them in the Latin language, and
entreated that they would, according to the command in the Pope's
letter, allow me, a poor lad, to obtain the absolution of all my sins
gratis, and for God's sake, '_Etiam nullo casu reservato_,'--without
reserve, and thereupon they should give me the '_literas
testimoniales_,'--written testimony, of the Pope. The priests were much
astonished at my Latin speech, for it was at this time a rare thing,
especially with young boys; and they went speedily out of the room into
the next apartment, where was Herr Commissary Tetzel. They laid before
him my request, and begged of him to give me gratis the letter of
indulgence. At last, after holding long counsel, they came again, and
brought me this answer: 'Dear son, we have carefully laid your petition
before the Herr Commissary, and he bids us say he would gladly grant
it, but he cannot; and if he were to do so, this concession would
become powerless, and of no avail. For he has shown us that it is clear
from the Pope's letter, it is those only _qui porrigent manum
adjutricem_,--those who help with the hand, that is, those who give
money, that will certainly partake of the merciful indulgences and
treasures of the Church, and of the merits of Christ.' And this they
told me all in German, for there was not one among them who could speak
three words of Latin rightly.

"But I again renewed my petition, and showed them, how in the papal
letter the holy father had commanded that these indulgences should be
freely given to the poor, for God's sake, more especially as it was
therein written: _ad mandatum Domini papæ proprium_, that is, by his
highness the Pope's own commands.

"Then they went again to the proud, haughty monk, and begged him to
grant my petition, for I was a deep-thinking and eloquent youth, who
deserved that more should be bestowed upon him than upon others. But
they brought back the same answer. I remained firm, however, and said
that they did great injustice to me, a poor boy whom neither God nor
the Pope would shut out from grace, and whom they wanted to discard for
the sake of a few pence, which I had not. Then followed a dispute. They
said I must give something, however little, if it was only a few
groschen, that the helping hand might not be wanting. I answered, 'I
have it not, I am poor.' At last it came to this, I was to give six
_pfennige_, to which I replied again, 'I have not a single _pfennig_.'
They tried to persuade me, and conferred together. At last I heard them
say that they were in anxiety on two points; first, they must on no
account let me go without the indulgence, as this might be a concerted
plan, and lead to mischief hereafter, for it was clearly written in the
Pope's letter that indulgences were to be given free to the poor; but
on the other hand, it was necessary to take something from me, that
others might not hear that they were given away gratis, in which case a
whole crowd of poor scholars and beggars would come and demand them.
They need not have had any anxiety on this account, for the poor
beggars would rather seek for bread to drive away their hunger.

"After they had taken counsel they came again to me, and offered me six
_pfennige_, that I might give it to the commissary; by this
contribution they said that I should become one of the builders of the
church of St. Peters at Rome, a slayer of the Turks, and partaker of
the indulgence and grace of Christ. But I spoke out freely, stirred by
the Holy Spirit, and said that if I was to buy indulgence and remission
of sins, I could sell one of my books, and obtain it with my own money;
but I wished to have it given me freely for God's sake, or they would
have to answer before God, for having trifled with the happiness of my
soul for the sake of six _pfennige_, when both God and the Pope desired
that I should be partaker of the forgiveness of sins for charity sake.
I said this, but truly did not know how it stood with the letters of

"After this speech the priests inquired of me from whence I had been
sent, and who had instructed me to deal with them about this matter.
Then I told them the simple truth, how it was that I had not been told
or sent by any one, or induced to come by other men's counsel, but had
of myself made this request, in full trust and confidence in the free
and charitable gift of forgiveness of sins; and I had never before in
my life spoken to, or dealt with such great people, for I was by nature
modest; and if I had not been constrained by my great thirst for the
mercy of God, I should not have ventured on so high an undertaking.
Then they again offered me the indulgence, but in this way: I was to
buy it with six _pfennige_, and these _pfennige_ were to be returned to
me for myself. But I remained firm that he who had the power should
give me the indulgence free; and if he would not, I would commend the
affair to my dear God, and resign myself into his hands; and so they
dismissed me.

"The holy thieves were however sorrowful over this affair. I too was
somewhat troubled that I had not got my indulgence; yet I also rejoiced
that in spite of them there was one in heaven who would forgive the
sins of the penitent sinner, without money and without price, according
to the text which I had often repeated in church: 'As I live, saith the
Lord God, I would not the death of a sinner, but that he should be
converted and live.' Ah, dear Lord God, thou knowest that I have not
lied or invented.

"I was so overcome by all this, that whilst I was going home to my
lodging, I was dissolved in tears. When I arrived there, I went into my
room and took the crucifix, that always lay on the table in my study,
placed it on the bench, and fell down before it on the ground. I cannot
here describe it, but I then felt the spirit of prayer and grace, which
thou, my God and Lord, pouredst out upon me. The purport of my prayer
was this, I beg that thou, dear God, wouldst be my father, and wouldst
forgive me my sins. I resign myself to thee altogether and entirely;
thou mayest do with me what thou pleasest, and though the priests will
not be merciful to me without money, be thou my merciful God and

"Then I found that my whole heart was changed: I felt vexed with all
worldly things, and imagined that I was quite wearied with this life.
Only one thing I desired, which was, to live for God and to please Him.
But who was there that could teach me, and how was I to effect this?
For the Word, the light and life of men, was throughout the whole world
buried in the darkness of human traditions and the mad idea of 'good
works.' Of Christ nothing was said, nothing was known of Him; or if He
was mentioned, He was represented to us as an angry and terrible judge,
whom his mother and all the saints in heaven could hardly appease, or
persuade to be merciful even by tears of blood; and it was said that
He, Christ, would cast those men who repented, for seven years into
purgatory for every mortal sin: there was no difference between the
pains of purgatory and those of hell, except that they were not
eternal. But now the Holy Spirit gave me the hope that God would be
merciful unto me.

"After this I began to consider how I was to enter upon a new course of
life. I saw the sinfulness of the whole world, and of the whole human
race. I saw my own manifold sins which were so very great. I had heard
somewhat of the great holiness and of the pure and innocent life of
monks; how they served God day and night, were separated from all the
wickedness of the world, and lived a temperate, pious, and chaste life,
performed masses, sang psalms, and were always fasting and praying. I
had also seen something of this plausible life, but I did not know that
it was the greatest idolatry and hypocrisy.

"I consulted with my preceptor, the master Andreas Staffeltstein, who
was rector of the school; he advised me to enter the newly built
Franciscan monastery, and for fear I should change my mind through any
long delay, he went himself with me to the monks, praised my talents
and intellect, and boasted that in me alone amongst all his scholars he
had perfect confidence, that I should become a truly godly man.

"I desired, however, beforehand to mention my undertaking to my
parents, and to hear their opinion upon it, as I was their only son and
heir; but the monks showed me out of St. Jerome that I ought not to
regard father or mother, but leave them, and take up the cross of
Christ. And they quoted the saying of Christ: 'No man, having put his
hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God;'
and thus they pressed me to become a monk. I will not here speak of the
many bonds and fetters with which they bound and shackled my
conscience. They told me I could never henceforth be happy if I did not
at once accept the offered grace of God; and as I would rather have
died than have been deprived of the grace of God and eternal life, I at
once consented, and promised that I would in three days return to the
monastery, and commence my year of probation, as it is called; that is,
I would become a pious, devout, and God-fearing monk.

"On the 14th of July, in the year 1510, about two o'clock in the
afternoon, I entered the monastery, accompanied by my preceptor, some
of my schoolfellows, and certain devout matrons, to whom I had partly
explained why I entered the ecclesiastical order. I then gave my
blessing to all who had thus accompanied me, who with many tears
implored for me God's grace and blessing. And so it came to pass that I
went into a monastery. Dear God, thou knowest that this is all true. It
was not a life of idleness nor good living that I sought, nor yet the
odour of sanctity, but I wished to please thee, and to serve thee well.

"Thus for a time I groped on in great darkness."

                               CHAPTER V.

                             (about 1522.)

The storm broke loose; it convulsed the whole nation as with electric
fire: the words of the Augustine of Wittenburg rolled through the land
like peals of thunder, and every clap betokened an advance and a
victory. Even now, after three centuries and a half, this prodigious
movement has an irresistible fascination for the German people. Never,
from its first existence, had the nation revealed its innermost being
so touchingly and grandly. All the fine qualities of the German mind
and character burst forth at this time; enthusiasm, self-devotion, a
deep moral indignation, an intense pleasure in systematic thought, and
an inward seeking after the highest. Every individual took his share in
the strife. The travelling trader over the fire at night contended for
or against the indulgences, the countryman in the most remote villages
heard with astonishment of the new heretic whom his spiritual father
cursed in every sermon, and the women of the villages no longer gave
willingly to the mendicant monks. A sea of small literature overflowed
the country, a hundred printing-presses were in activity, spreading
abroad the numerous controversial writings, both learned and popular;
parties raged in every cathedral and parish church; everywhere men of
resolute character amongst the ecclesiastics declared themselves for
the new doctrines, whilst the weaker ones struggled with timid doubts;
the doors of the monasteries were opened, and the cells soon became
empty. Every month brought to the people something new and unheard of.

It was no longer a quarrel between priests, as Hutten had in the
beginning contemptuously called the dispute between the Wittenberger
and Tetzel; it had become a war of the nation against the Romish
supremacy and its supporters. Ever more powerfully rose the image of
Luther before his cotemporaries. Banished, cursed, persecuted by Pope
and Emperor, by princes and high ecclesiastics, he became in four short
years the idolized hero of the people. His journey to Worms was
described in the style of the Holy Scriptures, and the over-zealous
placed him on a footing with the martyrs of the New Testament.[24] The
learned also felt themselves irresistibly drawn into the struggle; even
Erasmus smiled approbation, and Hutten's soul fired up in the cause of
the new teacher, he no longer wrote in Latin, but broke forth in
German, more stormy and wild than the Wittenberger, with a fire that
consumed himself, the knight fought his last fight for the peasant's

The man on whom for half a generation the highest feelings of his
nation were concentrated, now enters upon the scene. Yet before we
endeavour to understand his mind, it is well to point out, shortly, how
his peculiar character worked upon impartial cotemporaries. We first
take the witness of a moderate and truthful mind, who never personally
knew Luther, and who later, in a middle position between the
Wittenberger and the Swiss reformer, had reason to be dissatisfied with
Luther's stubbornness. Ambrosius Blaurer, born in Constance, of noble
family, was a brother of the old Benedictine monastery of Alpirsbach,
in the wildest part of the Black Forest; he was afterwards a writer of
sacred poetry, and at the time we are speaking of, thirty years old. He
had left the cloister in 1523, and fled to his family. At the
instigation of his Abbot, the Stadtholder of the principality of
Würtemberg demanded that he should be sent back to the monastery by the
Burgomaster and council of Constance. Blaurer published a defence, from
which the following is taken. He became shortly after a preacher in
Constance, and on the restoration of Duke Ulrich, one of the reformers
of Würtemberg, and died at a great age at Winterthur. What he praises
and blames in Luther may be considered as the general view of his
character taken at that time by earnest minds.

"I call God and my own conscience to witness that no wilfulness or
frivolous motive drove me out of the monastery, or excited me to
abandon it. Vulgar rumour reports, that monks and nuns have left their
convents on account of their aversion to its tranquil life, and that
they might live in carnal freedom, and give vent to their wilfulness
and worldly desires. But I was actuated by honourable and weighty
reasons, and great troubles and urgings of conscience, on account of
the word of God. I hope that all the circumstances of my departure will
show neither levity, wantonness, nor unseemly purpose? I laid aside
neither cowl nor capouch except for a few days after my departure for
my greater security, till I had reached my place of refuge. I neither
left to fight, nor to carry away a pretty wife, but I went forthwith as
quickly as I could to my much loved mother and relations, who are
undoubted Christians, and are held in such honour and esteem in the
city of Constance, that it is certain they would never counsel or help
me in any unworthy undertaking.

"Therefore I trust that my previous conduct and course of life will
relieve me from any suspicion of unseemly or wilful intentions; for
although I may not boast myself before God, yet I may before men glory
in the Lord, that I, whether in the cloister or the school, here, and
wherever I have been, have retained a good repute and esteem, with much
love and favour, on account of my uprightness. You yourselves have
heard the messengers from Würtemberg acknowledge that there was no
complaint or evil report of my conduct or manner of life at the
monastery of Alpirsbach, but that I have behaved myself well and
piously; all they can say against me is, that I have concerned myself
too much with what they call the seductive and cursed teaching of
Martin Luther, whose writings I have read and adhered to, and preached
them, contrary to the command of the abbot, publicly to the laity in
the monastery; and when this was forbidden me, I yet continued
secretly, and as it were in a corner, to infuse them into the souls of
some of the young gentlemen there. With such praise from my fathers and
brethren I am well content, and can justify myself for this one
misdeed, as a Christian, from the word of God, and I hope that my
defence will serve to remove false and ungrounded suspicions, not only
from me, but also from others.

"When in the course of the last year, the works and opinions of Martin
Luther were spread abroad and became known, they came into my hands
before they had been condemned and forbidden by the ecclesiastical and
lay authorities; and like other newly printed works, I saw and read
them. In the beginning, these doctrines appeared to me somewhat strange
and objectionable, and contrary to the long-established theology and
clever teaching of the schools, in opposition also to the papal and
ecclesiastical rights, and to the old, and, as I then considered them,
praiseworthy customs and usages of our forefathers. But it was not less
evident to me that this man interspersed everywhere in his teaching
clear and distinct passages from the Holy Scriptures, according to
which all human teaching ought to be guided and judged, accepted or
rejected. I was much amazed, and stirred up to read these doctrines,
not once or twice, but frequently, with much industry and earnest
attention, and to weigh and compare them with the evangelical writings
to which they constantly appealed. The longer I did this, the more I
perceived with what great dignity the Holy Scriptures were treated by
this learned and enlightened man,--how purely and delicately he handled
them, how cleverly and well he everywhere brought them forward, how
skilfully he compared and weighed them one with the other, and how he
explained the dark and difficult texts, by bringing forward others that
were clearer and more comprehensible. I saw also that there was great
mastership in his treatment of the Scriptures, and that it afforded the
most substantial aid to a right understanding of them, so that every
intelligent layman who industriously studied his books, could
distinctly perceive that these doctrines were true and Christian, and
had the firmest foundation. On that account they impressed themselves
on my mind, and deeply touched my heart: it was to me as if a veil had
fallen from before my eyes; I felt they were in no wise to be
distrusted, like those of so many other school teachers that I had
formerly read, because their aim was neither dominion, fame, nor
worldly enjoyment, but to place before us, only the poor, despised, and
crucified Christ, and to teach us to live a pure, moderate, and sober
life, conformable in all things to the doctrine of Christ; and they
were therefore too hard and self-denying for the ambitious and many
beneficed priests and doctors, puffed up with pride and vain glory, who
sought in the Scriptures their own honour and fame, more than the
Spirit of God. Therefore would I rather give up all my worldly means
and life itself, than be deprived of them, not for the sake of Luther,
who, except as he appears in his writings, is unknown to me, and being
only a man, may, like other men, be in error; but for the sake of the
word of God, which he holds so clearly and distinctly, and explains so
victoriously and triumphantly from the fullness of his undaunted

"The enemy endeavoured to embitter this honey to us by representing
that Luther was testy and irritable, aggressive and sarcastic; that he
attacked his opponents the great princes and ecclesiastical and lay
lords, with audacity; had recourse to abuse and slander, and forgot all
brotherly love and Christian moderation. He had, it is true, often
displeased me by this, and I would not desire any one to do the like;
but I could not on that account reject and cast aside his good
Christian teaching, nor even condemn him in these respects; and for
this reason, that I could not read his mind, nor the secret counsels of
God, as perhaps it might be the means of drawing people from his
teaching. And as it was not his own cause, but the divine word that he
defended, much allowance should be made for him, and all should be
attributed to zealous indignation for God. Even Christ, the source and
pattern of all meekness, severely rebuked before others the stubborn
and stony-hearted Pharisees, and called them false hypocrites, painted
sepulchres, sons of harlots, blind leaders of the blind, and also the
children of the devil, as may be seen in the gospels. (Matt. xii. 15,
23; John viii.) Perhaps Luther would gladly speak well of many if he
could do so with truth; he may not think it fitting to call those who
are in darkness, enlightened; nor rapacious wolves, good shepherds; nor
the unmerciful, merciful; for without doubt, had God not been more
merciful to him than they have been, he would not now be upon earth.
But however this may be, I will not defend him in this place, but
laying aside his expressions of contempt and abuse, accept with
thankfulness the earnestness of his valiant Christian writings for our

"As I openly persevered in what I had undertaken advisedly, and would
not desist at the bidding of any one, being bound as a Christian not to
do so, the displeasure of my superior at Alpirsbach, and certain others
of the monastery, greatly increased, and the sword of God's anger began
to cause division and discord between the brothers. I was peremptorily
ordered to abstain from my undertaking, and also not to speak of these
matters with others; but as I could not do this, being bound to yield
obedience to God's commands, rather than to those of man, I earnestly
begged of my Abbot and monastery, that they would graciously give me
leave of absence. I wished for a year or two to support myself at some
school or elsewhere, without being any expense to the monastery, and
perhaps in the mean while, by a godly examination of the cause of our
discord, it might be brought to a peaceable end.

"This being however refused by them, I resolved, after having taken
counsel with many wise, learned, and God-fearing men and friends, to
leave the monastery." So far Ambrosius Blaurer.

Whilst brother Ambrosius was yet looking anxiously from the windows of
his cell, over the pines of the Black Forest into the free expanse,
another was riding out of the gate of a princely castle near the
woodclad mountains of Thuringia. Behind him lay the dark
_Drachenschlucht_; before him the long ridge of the magic Hörselberges,
wherein dwelt an enchantress, to whom the Pope, that wicked forgiver of
sins, had once driven back the repentant Tannhäuser. But the dry stick
which the Pope had then thrust into the ground, brought forth green
foliage during the night; God himself confuted the Pope. The poor
penitent man no longer required the Bishop of Rome to enable him to
find mercy and grace from his heavenly Father; but the wicked Pope
himself would descend into the jaws of the old dragon.

The exterior of the man who was riding down from Wartburg to
Wittenberg, shall be described by a young student who was travelling
with a friend from Switzerland to Saxony. His narrative is well known,
yet we must not omit it here.

His name was John Kessler; he was born at St. Gallen, in 1502; his
parents were poor citizens; he attended the school of the monastery
there, studied theology at Basle, and went early in the spring of 1522
with a companion to Wittenberg, to continue his studies under the
Reformers. In the autumn of 1523, he returned to his native town, and
as the new doctrines had not yet taken root there, being very poor he
determined to learn a trade, and became a saddler. He soon collected a
small community round him, taught and preached, laboured in his
workshop, wrote books, and became at last schoolmaster, librarian and
member of a council of education. He had an unpretending, pure nature,
with a heart full of love and gentle warmth, but he took no active part
in the theological controversies of his time. His narrative begins as

"When we were travelling to Wittenberg to study the Holy Scriptures, we
arrived at Jena in Thuringia, in, God knows how wild a storm; and after
many inquiries in the city for a lodging wherein we might pass the
night, we could not find any; everywhere lodging was denied us, for it
was Shrovetide,[25] when pilgrims and strangers were little cared for.
So we determined to leave the town, and endeavour to reach a village
where they would lodge us. In the mean while we met at the gate an
honest man, who spoke kindly to us, and inquired where we were going so
late, as there was neither house nor farm that we could reach before
night; besides which, it was a road that was difficult to find;
therefore he advised us to remain there.

"We answered: 'Dear father, we have tried all the inns to which we have
been directed, and having everywhere been refused a lodging, we are
obliged to proceed further.' Then he asked us whether we had made
inquiry at the Black Bear; and we replied: 'It has never been mentioned
to us; tell us, dear father, where we shall find it.' He then showed us
a little way out of the town, and when we came to the Black Bear,
behold, the landlord, instead of refusing us, as all the others had
done, came to meet us at the door, and not only received us, but kindly
begged of us to lodge there, and took us into a room.

"There we found a man sitting alone at a table, and before him lay a
book; he greeted us kindly, and bid us approach and sit by him at the
table; for we were seating ourselves quietly on a bench close to the
door, as our shoes (if one may be allowed to write it) were so covered
with mud and dirt, that we were ashamed to enter the room on account of
our dirty footmarks. He invited us to drink, which we could not refuse,
and as we found him so kind and cordial, we seated ourselves by him at
his table as he had asked us, and called for a quart of wine, that we
might return his civility by asking him to drink. We supposed him
however to be a knight, as he was dressed in hosen and jerkin, with a
red leather cap, and without armour, and sat, according to the custom
of his country, with a sword at his side, with one hand resting on the
pommel and the other clasping the hilt. His eyes were black and deep
set, flashing and sparkling like stars, so that one could hardly bear
to look at them.

"Shortly after, he asked where we were born, but answered himself: 'You
are Swiss; from what part of Switzerland do you come?' We replied,
'From St. Gallen.' He then said, 'If you are going, as I hear, to
Wittenberg, you will find there some good countrymen of yours, Dr.
Jerome Schurf and his brother Dr. Augustin.'

"We said, 'We have letters to them;' and we proceeded to inquire: 'Can
you inform us, sir, whether Martin Luther is now at Wittenberg; or if
not, where he is?'

"He answered, 'I know for certain that Luther is not now at Wittenberg,
but will return soon. Philip Melancthon is however there, who teaches
Greek, and others who teach Hebrew. In truth I would advise you to
study both, as they are needful for the right understanding of the Holy
Scriptures.' We replied, 'So help us God! as long as He grants us life,
we will not desist till we have seen and heard this man; for on his
account we have undertaken this journey, as we learn that he will
overthrow the priesthood, together with the mass, that being a service
founded on error. As we have been brought up by our parents, and
destined from our youth to be priests, we are anxious to hear what his
teaching is, and what authority he can bring forward for such

"After we had thus spoken, he inquired: 'Where have you studied
hitherto?'--Answer: 'At Basle.'--Then he said: 'How are things going on
at Basle? Is Erasmus of Rotterdam still there, and what is he doing?'

"We replied: 'We only know, sir, that all is going on well, and that
Erasmus is there; but what he is about is unknown to and concealed from
every one, as he keeps himself quite quiet and private.'

"This manner of talk appeared to us very strange in the knight; how
could he know everything relative to the two Schurfs, of Philip, and
Erasmus, and also be aware of the necessity of learning Greek and
Hebrew? He introduced occasionally Latin words, so that we bethought us
he must be more than a common knight.

"'Dear sons,' he said, 'what do they think in Switzerland about

"We answered: 'Sir, there, as everywhere, opinions vary. Many cannot
exalt him sufficiently, and thank God who has manifested his truth
through him, and exposed error; but many condemn him as a cursed
heretic, especially all the ecclesiastics.'

"He answered: 'I can well imagine it of the priests.'

"Thus holding converse, we became quite at home with him, so that my
companion took up the book that was lying before him and opened it. It
was the Hebrew Psalter; he put it down again quickly and the knight
drew it towards him. Then my companion said: 'I would give one of my
fingers to be able to understand this language.' He answered, 'You will
have no difficulty in comprehending it, providing you devote yourself
to it industriously; I also desire to know more of it, and study it

"In the mean while evening drew on, and it became quite dark. The
landlord came to the table, and when he learned our longing desire to
know Martin Luther, he said, 'Dear comrades, if you had been here two
days ago, you would have succeeded, for he was here, and sat at this
table, and,' pointing with his finger, 'in that very place.' We were
much vexed and provoked that we had missed him, and laid the blame of
it on the muddy bad road which had delayed us; but we said, 'We
rejoice, however, that we are in the same house and sitting at the same
table at which he sat.'

"At this the landlord laughed and went away. After a little while the
landlord called to me to come to him outside the door of the room. I
was frightened, and thought that perhaps without intending it I had
done something that was unbecoming.

"Then he said to me, 'As I know that you wish to hear and see Luther;
it is he who sits by you.'

"I took this for a joke, and said, 'I see indeed, good sir, that you
wish to banter me by imposing upon me a false Luther.' He answered, 'It
is he most assuredly; but do not show that you think so, or that you
recognize him.' I assented, but did not believe him. I went again into
the room, and placed myself at the table; and was anxious to tell my
companion what the landlord had said. At last I turned to him and
whispered secretly, 'The landlord has told me that this is Luther.' He
would not believe it any more than I, and said, 'He perhaps told you
that it was Hutten, and you did not rightly understand him.' As the
dress and bearing reminded me more of Hutten than a monk like Luther, I
was persuaded that he had said it was Hutten, as the beginning of both
names sounded so much alike: what I further said, was as if spoken to
the knight, Herr Ulrich von Hutten.

"In the mean while there arrived two merchants, who intended to remain
there all night: after they had taken off their travelling dresses and
spurs, one of them laid down near him an unbound book. Then Martinus
asked what kind of book it was; and he answered, 'It is Dr. Luther's
exposition of some of the gospels and epistles, just printed and
published; have you not yet seen it?' Martinus said, 'I shall soon get
it.' The host now desired us to arrange ourselves at table, as it was
time to eat; we begged of him to have consideration for us and give us
something separate, but he replied, 'Dear comrades, place yourselves by
these gentlemen at table, I will charge you moderately.' When Martinus
heard this, he said, 'Come here, I will settle for you with the

"During the meal, Martinus spoke many kind and godly words, so that the
merchants as well as ourselves were mute before him; attending more to
his words than to the viands before us. Amongst other things, he
lamented with a sigh that the princes and lords just then assembled at
the Imperial Diet at Nuremberg, on account of the troubles of the
German nation, and for the sake of the pending proceedings concerning
God's word, were only inclined to waste their time in costly
tournaments, sledge drives, vanity, and dissipation, when fear of God
and Christian prayer would be of more avail. 'But such are our
_Christian_ princes.' He further said, 'There was hope that evangelical
truth would bear more fruit among the children and descendants who were
not poisoned by papal errors, and might yet be grounded in pure truth
and the word of God, than among the parents in whom error was so deeply
rooted that it could hardly be eradicated.

"Then the merchants gave their opinions freely, and one of them said,
'I am a simple layman, and understand little of these disputes, but I
must speak of things as I find them; Luther must either be an angel
from heaven, or a devil out of hell. I would gladly, however, give ten
gulden to confess to him, for I believe he could and would give me good
instruction.' Then the landlord came to us, and said secretly,
'Martinus has paid for your supper:' that gave us much pleasure, not
for the sake of the money and food, but for the hospitality shown us by
this man. After supper the merchants rose and went to the stable to
look after their horses; in the mean while Martinus remained alone with
us in the room; we thanked him for the honour he had done us, as well
as for the gift, and as we did so we showed him that we took him for
Ulrich von Hutten; but he said, 'I am not Hutten.'

"Then the landlord coming in, Martinus said, 'I have become a nobleman
to-night, for these Swiss have taken me for Ulrich von Hutten.' The
landlord replied, 'You are not him, but Martinus Luther.' Then Martinus
laughing as if it were a joke, said, 'These take me for Hutten, you for
Luther, soon I shall become a Markolfus.'[26] After this talk he took a
long glass of beer, and said, according to the custom of the country,
'Drink with me a friendly glass with God's blessing;' and when I was
going to take the glass from him, he changed it, and offered instead a
glass with wine, saying, 'The beer is foreign to you, and you are
unaccustomed to it, drink the wine.' Meanwhile he rose and threw his
tabard over his shoulders, and took leave. He held out his hand to us,
and said, 'If you go to Wittenberg, greet Dr. Jerome Schurf for me.' We
replied, 'We will do that with pleasure, but how must we designate you,
that he may understand your greeting?' He answered, 'Say nothing
further than that he who is coming sends you greeting; he will
immediately understand these words.' So he departed from us and went to

"Afterwards the merchants returned into the room, and called to the
landlord to bring them something to drink; in the mean while they had
much talk about the guest, and wondered who he could be. The landlord
declared it was Luther, and the merchants were soon convinced of it,
and regretted that they had spoken so unbecomingly before him, and
said, 'They would rise at an early hour in the morning, that they might
see him before he started; and would beg of him not to be angry with
them, as they had not known who he was.' This they did, and found him
in the morning in the stable; but Martinus answered them, 'You said
last night at supper that you would give ten gulden to confess yourself
to Luther; when you do so, you will see and learn if I am Martinus
Luther.' He did not make himself further known, but mounted his horse
and rode off to Wittenberg.

"On the following Saturday, the day before the first Sunday in Lent, we
presented ourselves at Dr. Jerome Schurf's house to deliver our
letters. When we entered the room, behold we found there the knight
Martinus just as we had seen him at Jena, and with him were Philippus
Melancthon, Justus Jodocus Jonas, Nicholas Amsdorf, and Dr. Augustin
Schurf, who were telling him what had happened during his absence from
Wittenberg: he greeted us, and laughing, pointed with his finger, and
said, 'This is the Philip Melancthon of whom I told you.'"

There is nothing more remarkable in the truthlike narrative of Kessler,
than the cheerful tranquillity of the great man whilst riding through
Thuringia under ban and interdict, his heart filled with anxious care,
on account of the great danger with which his doctrines were threatened
by the fanaticism of his own partisans.

                              CHAPTER VI.

                              DR. LUTHER.

Even the most enlightened Roman Catholics look with horror upon Luther
and Zwinglius as originators of the schism in their old Church. It is
to be hoped that such views may disappear in Germany. All sects have
reason to thank Luther for whatever depth and spirituality now remains
in their faith: The heretic of Wittenberg was as much the reformer of
German Roman Catholics as of Protestants; not only, because in the
struggle with him the teachers of the Roman Catholic Church were
obliged to erect at Trent a firmer building on the ruins of the Church
of the middle ages, but because he left the impress of his mind on the
character of the people, in which we all equally partake. Some things
for which the obstinate and pugnacious Luther contended, against both
Reformers and Catholics, have been condemned by the free judgment of
modern times. His doctrines, vehement and high strained, wrung from a
soul full of reverence, were in some weighty points erroneous, and he
was sometimes bitter, unjust, indeed harsh to his opponents; but such
things should not lead Germans astray, for all the deficiencies of his
nature and education disappear in the fullness of blessing, which
streamed from his great heart into the life of his nation.

To few mortals has it been granted to exercise such an influence on his
cotemporaries and on after times, as has fallen to the lot of Luther:
his life may be divided into three periods. In the first, the character
of the man was formed; it was powerfully influenced by the surrounding
world, but from the depths of human nature, under the pressure of
individual character, thoughts and convictions were gradually
strengthened into resolutions which broke forth into action, and the
individual commenced a struggle with the world. Then followed another
period, one of more energetic action, of more rapid development and of
greater triumph. Ever greater became the influence of the individual on
the world; powerfully did he draw the whole nation along with him; he
became their hero and model; the inward life of millions seemed
concentrated in one man.

But a single individual, however powerful in character, however great
his aims, could not long dominate over the spirit of a nation, the
life, strength, and wants of which are manifold. The man is under the
constraint of the logical consequences of his thoughts and actions; all
the spirits of his own deeds force him into a fixed limited path; but
the soul of a people requires for its life, incessant working with the
most varied aims. Much that an individual cannot bring himself to
receive, is taken up by others in opposition to him. The reaction of
the world begins: it is first weak, and from many quarters, with
various tendencies and little authority; then it becomes stronger and
more victorious. Finally, the inward spirit of the individual life
confines itself within its own system, and becomes only a single
element in the formation of the people. The end of a great life is
always full of secret resignation, mixed with bitterness and quiet

And thus it was with Luther. The first of these periods ended with the
day on which he affixed his Theses; the second continued till his
return from the castle of Wartburg; the third till the beginning of the
Smalkaldic war and his death. It is not our intention to give his life
here, but only to describe shortly how he became what he was. There was
much in him which, only viewed from a distance, appears strange and
unpleasing, but the more closely we examine his character, the greater
and more amiable we find it.

Luther rose from the peasant class; his father left Möhra, a place amid
the forests of the Thuringian mountains, which was half peopled by his
kindred, to engage in mining in the district of Mansfeld; thus the boy
was born in a cottage, where the terrors inspired by the spirits of the
pine woods, and dark fissures which served as entrances to the mine in
the mountains, were still strong and vivid. His mind was no doubt often
occupied with the dark traditions of the heathen mythology; he was
accustomed to perceive in the terrors of nature, as well as in the life
of man, the work of the powers of darkness. When he became a monk,
these recollections of his childhood blended themselves with the figure
of the devil, and the busy tempter always wore the same aspect to his
imagination as the mischievous hobgoblins that frequent the hearth and
stable of the countryman.

His father was a man of concentrated and energetic character, firm and
decided, and gifted with a full measure of strong common sense: he
struggled hard to attain wealth; he kept strict discipline in his
house, and in later years Luther remembered with grief the severe
punishment he had received as a boy, and the sorrow it had inflicted on
his childish heart. The influence of the old Hans Luther on the life of
his son lasted till his death in 1530. When Martin went secretly into a
monastery at the age of twenty-two, the old man was violently angry, as
he had intended to provide for his son by a good marriage. At last
friends succeeded in bringing about a reconciliation between them, and
when the supplicating son approached his father, confessing that he had
been driven by a fearful apparition to take the monastic vows, he
replied to him in the following words: "God grant that it may not have
been a delusion of the devil." He agitated still more the heart of the
monk by the angry question: "You thought you were listening to the
command of God when you went into the cloister; have you never heard
that it is a duty to be obedient to parents?" This made a deep
impression on the son, and when, many years afterwards, he was residing
at Wartburg, cast out of the Church, and proscribed by the Emperor, he
wrote to his father these touching words: "Do you still wish to
withdraw me from the thraldom of the monastery? You are still my
father, I your son; you have on your side the power and commands of
God; on my side there is only human error. Behold, that you may not
boast yourself before God, He has anticipated you, and taken me out
himself." From that time he was as it were restored to the old man.
Hans had once reckoned upon having a grandson for whom he would work,
and to this idea he stubbornly returned, regardless as to what the rest
of world thought; he soon therefore admonished him earnestly, to marry,
and his persuasions had a great share in determining Luther to do so.
When the father, who at a great age had become councillor of Mansfeld,
was about to draw his last breath, and the priest bending over him
asked him whether he died in the pure faith of Christ and the Holy
Gospel, old Hans collected himself once more, and said shortly: "He is
a rogue who does not believe in it." When, afterwards, Luther was
relating this, he added admiringly: "That was indeed a man of the olden
time." The son received the account of his father's death, in the
fortress of Coburg; and when he read the letter, which his wife had
conveyed to him with the portrait of his youngest daughter, Magdalen,
he spoke only these words to his companions: "God's will be done, my
father is dead." He arose, took his psalter, went into his room, where
he wept and prayed, and returned with a composed mind. The same day he
wrote to Melancthon with deep emotion, of the heartfelt love of his
father, and of the entire confidence that existed between them. "Never
did I despise death so much as I do now: how often do we suffer death
by anticipation before we really die! I am now the eldest of my race,
and I have a right to follow him."

Such was the father from whom the son derived the groundwork of his
character, veracity, a steadfast will, an honest understanding, and
circumspection in the management of business and in his dealings with
men. His childhood was full of hardships, and he had much that was
disagreeable to endure at his Latin school, and as a chorister; but he
experienced also much good-will and love, and he retained, what is more
easily kept in the smaller circles of life, a heart full of trust in
the goodness of human nature, and respect for the great people of the
world. His father was able to support him comfortably at the university
of Erfurt; he was then full of youthful vigour, and took great delight
in joining his companions in vocal and instrumental music. Of his
mental life at that time we know but little, only that when in peril of
death, in a storm, "a fearful apparition called to him from heaven." In
his terror he vowed to go to a monastery, and quickly and secretly
carried out his resolution.

It is here that our accounts of the state of his mind begin. At
variance with his father, full of terror at an incomprehensible
eternity, frightened by the anger of God, he began, in a convulsive
struggle, a life of self-denial, penance, and devotion. He found no
peace. All the highest questions of life stormed with fearful power
over his distracted soul, which had no anchor to rest on. Strongly did
he feel the need of being in harmony with God and the world, and all
that he derived from his faith was unintelligible and repulsive. The
mysteries of the moral government of the world were to his mind matters
of the deepest import. That the good should be tormented and the wicked
made happy, that God should condemn the whole human race with the
monstrous curse of sin, because an inexperienced woman had eaten an
apple, and that on the other hand the same God should bear with our
sins, in love and patience; that Christ should sometimes repel upright
people with severity, and at others receive adulterers, publicans, and
murderers,--about all this, the wisdom of man becomes foolishness. He
complained in these words to his ghostly counsellor, Staupitz: "Dear
doctor, our Lord God does indeed deal terribly with us; who can serve
Him when He deals such blows on all?" To which the answer was: "How
could He otherwise bow down the stiff-necked?" This ingenious argument
was of no comfort to the youth. In his earnest strivings to find the
incomprehensible God, he tormented himself in searching out all his
thoughts and dreams. Every ebullition of youthful blood, every earthly
thought, appeared to him a shocking iniquity; he began to despair, and
wrestled with himself in endless prayer, fasting, and mortification. On
one occasion the brothers were obliged to break into his cell, where he
had been lying the whole day in a state not far removed from insanity.
Staupitz observed with warm sympathy the agitation and torments of his
soul, and endeavoured, though only by rough consolation, to give it
rest. Once when Luther had written to him, "Oh my sins! my sins! my
sins!" his ghostly counsellor answered him: "You wish to be without
sin, and yet have no real sins. Christ is the forgiver of mortal sins,
such as the murder of parents, &c., &c. If you would have the help of
Christ, you must have mortal sins to record, and not come to Him with
such trifles and peccadilloes, making a sin out of every little

The way in which Luther raised himself out of this despair decided the
whole tenour of his life. The God whom he served appeared then as a God
of terror, whose anger was only to be appeased by the means of grace
given by the old Church, especially by continual confession, for which
endless forms and directions were given, which were but cold and empty
to the spirit. By the prescriptions of the Church and the practice of
so-called good works, young Luther had not attained the feeling of true
reconciliation and inward peace. At last a sentence from his spiritual
adviser pierced him like an arrow: "There is no true repentance that
does not begin by the love of God; the love of God, and the reception
of it in the soul, does not follow, but precedes the means of grace
enjoined by the Church." This teaching which came from Tauler's school
became for him the foundation of a new, genial, and moral relation with
God; it was a holy discovery to him. The change in his own spirit was
the main point for which he must labour; repentance, penance, and
expiation must proceed from the inward feelings of the heart. It was by
his own efforts alone that man could raise himself to God. For the
first time he experienced what direct prayer was. In the place of a
distant God, whom hitherto he had sought in vain, by hundreds of forms
and childish confessions, he beheld the image of an all-loving
protector, with whom he could hold communion at every hour, whether in
joy or sorrow, before whom he could lay every grief and doubt, who
incessantly sympathized with, and cared for him, and, like a good
father, either granted or denied the requests of his heart. Thus he
learned to pray, and how ardent his prayers became! Now he was able to
live in tranquillity, being daily and hourly in communion with his God,
whom he had at last found; his intercourse with the Highest became more
confidential than with those dearest to him on earth. When he poured
out his whole soul before Him, he obtained rest, holy peace, and a
feeling of inexpressible happiness; he felt himself a portion of God,
and this sense of intimate communion with Him he preserved during the
whole remainder of his life. He needed no longer the distant paths of
the old Church; with his God in his heart he could defy the whole
world. He already ventured to believe, that teaching must be false
which laid such great weight on works of penance; that besides these
there remained only cold satisfaction and ceremonious confession; and
when later he learned from Melancthon that the Greek word for penance,
"_Metanoia_," denotes literally "a change of heart," it appeared to him
as a wonderful revelation. On this foundation was built that confidence
of faith, with which he brought forward the words of Scripture in
opposition to the prescriptions of the Church.

It was in this way that Luther, whilst still in the monastery, attained
to inward freedom. The whole of his later teaching, his struggle
against the indulgences, his unshaken firmness, and his method of
scriptural exposition, all rest on the inward process by which as a
monk he had found his God; and one may truly say that the new period of
German history began with Luther's cloister prayers. Life soon placed
him under its hammer, to harden the pure metal of his soul.

Luther unwillingly took the Professorship of Dialectics in the new
university of Wittenberg, in 1508; he would rather have taught that new
theology which he already began to consider the truth. It is known that
in the year 1510 he went to Rome on the business of his order; how
devoutly and piously he lingered in the holy city, and with what dismay
he was seized on observing the heathenish character of the people of
Rome, and the worldliness and corrupt morals of the ecclesiastics. But
deeply as he was shaken by the depravity of the hierarchy, he felt that
his whole life was still enclosed in it; out of it there was nothing:
The exalted idea of the Roman Catholic Church, and its triumphant reign
of 1500 years, fettered even the most powerful minds; and when the
German in the dress of a Romish priest, and in danger of his life,
contemplated the ruins of ancient Rome, and stood in amazement before
the gigantic pillars of the temples, which, according to tradition, had
once been destroyed by the Goths little did the valiant man from the
mountains of the old Hermunduren then think, that it would be his own
fate to destroy the temples of the Rome of the middle ages, more
completely than the brethren of his ancestors had done in the olden
time. Luther returned from Rome still a faithful son of the great
Mother, holding all heretical proceedings, as for example those of the
Bohemians, in detestation. He sympathized warmly in Reuchlin's dispute
with the Cologne inquisitor, and about 1512 had sided with the
Humanitarians. But even then he began to find something in their
teaching which separated him from them. When some years later he was at
Gotha, he did not visit the worthy Mutianus Rufus, though he wrote him
a very civil letter of excuse. Soon after, he was much wounded by the
coldness and worldly tone of Erasmus's dialogues, in which theological
sinners are turned into ridicule. The profane worldliness of the
Humanitarians did not suit the earnest faith of Luther; it aroused that
pride which had already taken root in his soul, and caused him
afterwards to wound the sensitive Erasmus in a letter intended to be
conciliatory. Even the form of literary moderation adopted by Luther at
this time, gives us the impression of being wrung by the pressure of
Christian humility from a stubborn spirit.

He felt himself already strong and secure in his faith: in 1506 he
wrote to Spalatinus, who was the connecting link between him and the
Elector, Frederic the Wise, that the Elector was of all men most
knowing in secular wisdom, but in things pertaining to God and the
salvation of souls, he was struck with sevenfold blindness.

Luther had reason for the opinion here expressed, for the domestic
disposition of this sober-minded prince showed itself in his anxiety to
provide for his home the means of grace bestowed by the old Church.
Amongst other things he had a particular fancy for relics, and
Staupitz, vicar-general of the Augustine monks in Germany, was at that
time engaged in collecting these treasures for the Elector. This
absence of his superior was very important to Luther, for he had to
fill his place. He was already a man of high repute in his order; but
though a professor at Wittenberg, he continued to reside in his
monastery, and generally wore his monk's dress. He visited the thirty
monasteries of his congregation, deposed priors, delivered strong
rebukes on account of lax discipline, severely admonished criminal
monks, and had become in 1517 a man of fully developed character and
commanding powers; yet he still preserved somewhat of the trusting
simplicity of the monastic brother.

Thus, when he had affixed the Theses against Tetzel to the church door,
he writes confidingly to the Archbishop Albrecht of Maintz, the
protector of the trader in indulgences. Full of the popular faith in
the good sense and the good will of the governing powers, Luther
thought--he often said so later--nothing was necessary but to represent
straightforwardly to the princes of the Church the injurious effects
and immorality of these malpractices.[27] But how childish did this
zeal of the monk appear to the smooth and worldly prince of the Church!
That which had roused such deep indignation in the upright man, had
from the archbishop's point of view long been a settled question. The
sale of indulgences was a much lamented evil in the Church, but
unavoidable, as are to politicians many regulations not good in
themselves, but necessary to preserve some great interests. The
greatest interest of the archbishops and the guardians of the Romish
Church was their dominion, which was to be won and maintained by such
means of acquiring money. The greatest interest of Luther and the
people was truth; here, therefore, their paths separated.

Thus Luther entered into the struggle, full of faith, still a true son
of the Church, and with all the German devotedness to authority; but
yet his firm connection with his God worked in him strongly against
this authority. He was then thirty-four years of age, in the full
vigour of his strength, of middle size, thin, but strongly made, so
that he appeared tall by the side of the small delicate boyish figure
of Melancthon. Fiery eyes, whose intense brilliancy was almost
overpowering, glowed in a face in which one could perceive the effects
of night watches and inward struggles. Though a man of great repute,
not only in his order, but in the university, he was no great scholar;
he first began to learn Greek with Melancthon, and soon afterwards
Hebrew; he possessed no great compass of book learning, and never had
any ambition to shine as a Latin poet. But he was astonishingly well
read in the Holy Scriptures and some of the Fathers, and whatever he
took up he worked out profoundly. He was unwearied in his care for the
souls of his congregation, a zealous preacher, and a warm friend; he
had a certain frank gaiety, together with a self-possessed demeanour,
and much courteous tact; the certainty of his convictions appeared in
his social intercourse, and gave a cheerful radiance to his
countenance. He was irritable, and easily moved to tears; the trifling
events of the day excited and disturbed him; but when he was called
upon for any great effort, and had subdued the first agitation of his
nerves--which, for instance, had overcome him on his first entrance at
the Imperial Diet at Worms--he then attained a wonderful composure and
confidence. He did not know what fear was; indeed, his lion nature took
pleasure in the most dangerous situations. The malicious snares of his
enemies, and the dangers to which his life was occasionally exposed, he
seemed to consider hardly worth speaking about. The foundation of this
more than human heroism--if one may venture to call it so--was the firm
personal union between him and his God. For a long period, with smiles
and inward gladness, he desired to serve truth and God by becoming a
martyr. A fearful struggle still lay before him, but it was not caused
by the opposition of men; he had to contend constantly for years
against the devil himself; he overcame also the terror of hell, which
threatened to obscure his reason. Such a man might be destroyed, but
could hardly be conquered.

The period of struggle which now follows, from the beginning of the
dispute about indulgences to his departure from Wartburg, the time of
his greatest triumph and greatest popularity, is that of which perhaps
most is known, and yet it appears to us that his character even then is
not rightly judged.

Nothing in this period is more remarkable than the way in which Luther
gradually became estranged from the Romish Church. He was sober-minded
and without ambition, and clung with deep reverence to the high idea of
the Church, that community of believers fifteen hundred years old; yet
in four short years he departed from the faith of his fathers, and
shook himself free of the soil in which he had been so firmly rooted.
During this whole time he had to maintain the struggle alone, or at
least with very few faithful confederates: after 1518 Melancthon was
united with him. He overcame all the dangers of fierce encounters, not
only against enemies, but against the anxious dissuasions of honest
friends and patrons. Three times did the Romish party try to silence
him by the authority of Cajetan, the persuasive eloquence of Miltitz,
and the unseasonable assiduity of the pugnacious Eckius; three times he
addressed the Pope in letters which are among the most valuable
documents of that century. Then came the separation: he was
anathematized and excommunicated; he burnt--according to the old
university custom--the enemy's challenge, and with it the possibility
of return. With joyful confidence he went to Worms, where the princes
of his nation were to decide whether he should die, or henceforth live
amongst them, without Pope or Church, by the precepts of the Holy
Scriptures alone.

When first he published in print the "Theses against Tetzel," he was
astounded at the prodigious effect they produced in Germany, at the
venomous hatred of his enemies, and at the tokens of friendly
approbation which he received from all sides. Had he done anything so
very unprecedented? The opinions he expressed were entertained by all
the best men in the Church. When the Bishop of Brandenburg sent the
Abbot of Lehnin to him, with a request that he would withdraw from the
press his German sermon upon indulgences and grace, however right its
contents might be, the poor Augustine friar was deeply moved that so
great a man should hold such friendly and cordial intercourse with him,
and he felt inclined to give up the publication rather than make
himself a lion disturbing the Church. He zealously endeavoured to
refute the report that the Elector had induced him to engage in the
dispute with Tetzel. "They wish to involve the innocent Prince in the
odium that belongs to me only." He desired as much as possible to
preserve peace with Miltitz before Cajetan; only one thing he would not
do: he would not retract what he had said against the unchristian sale
of indulgences. But this retraction was the only thing that the
hierarchy required of him. Long did he continue to wish for peace,
reconciliation, and a return to the peaceful occupations of his cell;
but some false assertion of his opponents always reinflamed his blood,
and every contradiction was followed by a new and sharper stroke of his

The heroic confidence of Luther is striking; even in his first letter
to Leo X., dated the 30th May, 1518, he is still the faithful son of
the Church; he still concludes by laying himself at the feet of the
Pope; offers him his whole life and being, and promises to respect his
voice as the voice of Christ, whose representative he is as sovereign
of the Church. But in the midst of all this submission, which became
him as a monastic brother, these impassioned words burst forth: "If I
have deserved death, I do not refuse to die." And in the letter itself,
how strong are the expressions with which he describes the insolence of
the indulgence vendors! Honest, too, are his expressions of surprise at
the effect of his Theses, which were difficult to understand, being,
according to the old custom, composed of enigmatical and involved
propositions. Good humour pervades the manly words, "What shall I do? I
cannot retract. I am only an unlearned man, of narrow capacity, not
highly cultivated, in a century full of intellect and taste, which
might even put Cicero into a corner. But necessity has no law; the
goose must cackle among the swans."

The following year all who esteemed Luther endeavoured to bring about a
reconciliation. Staupitz, Spalatinus, and the Elector scolded,
entreated, and urged. Even the Pope's chamberlain, Miltitz, praised his
opinions, whispered to him that he was quite right, entreated, drank
with, and kissed him; though Luther indeed had reason to believe that
the courtier had a secret commission to take him if possible a prisoner
to Rome. The mediators happily hit on a point in which the refractory
man heartily agreed with them; it was, that respect for the Church must
be maintained and its unity not destroyed; Luther therefore promised to
keep quiet and to leave the disputed points to the decision of three
eminent bishops. Under these circumstances he was pressed to write a
letter of apology to the Pope; but this letter of the 3rd of March,
1519, though undoubtedly approved by the mediators and wrung from the
writer, shows the advance that Luther had already made. Of the humility
which our theologians discover in it, there is little; it is, however,
thoroughly cautious and diplomatic in its style. Luther regrets that
what he has done to defend the honour of the Romish Church has been
attributed to him as a want of respect; he promises henceforth to be
silent on the subject of indulgences,--provided his opponents would be
the same, and to address a letter to the people admonishing them
loyally to obey the Church,[28] and not estrange themselves from it,
because his opponents had been insolent and he himself harsh. But all
these submissive words could not conceal the chasm which already
separated his spirit from that of the Romish Church. With what cold
irony he writes: "What shall I do, most holy father? All counsel fails
me; I cannot bear your anger, and yet know not how to avoid it. It is
desired that I should retract; if by this what they aim at could be
effected, I would do so without delay, but the opposition of my
opponents has spread my writings further than I had ever hoped, and
they have laid too deep hold on the souls of men. There is now much
talent, education, and free judgment in our Germany: were I to retract,
I should, in the opinions of my Germans, cover the Church with still
greater shame; but it is my opponents who have brought disgrace in
Germany upon the Romish Church." He concludes his letter politely. "Do
not doubt my readiness to do more, if it should be in my power. May
Christ preserve your Holiness. M. Luther."

There is much concealed behind this measured reserve. Even if the
conceited Eckius had not immediately after stirred up the indignation
of the whole university of Wittenberg, this letter could hardly have
availed at Rome as a sign of repentant submission.

The thunderbolt of excommunication was launched; Rome had spoken.
Luther, now restored to himself, wrote once more to the Pope; it was
the celebrated letter, which, at the request of the indefatigable
Miltitz, he antedated, the 6th of September, 1520, in order to ignore
the bull of excommunication. It is the noble expression of a determined
spirit which contemplates its opponent from its elevated position,
grand in its uprightness and noble in its sentiments! He speaks with
sincere sympathy of the Pope, and of his difficult position; but it is
the sympathy of a stranger: he still mourns over the Church, but it is
evident that he has already passed out of it. It is a parting letter
written with cutting sharpness and confidence, but in a tone of quiet
sorrow, as of a man separating himself from one whom he had once loved,
but found unworthy.

Luther had in the course of these years become quite another man; he
had acquired caution and confidence in intercourse with the great, and
had gained a dear-bought insight into the political and private
character of the governing powers. To the peaceful nature of his own
sovereign nothing could be more painful than this bitter theological
strife, which, though sometimes advantageous to him politically, always
disquieted his spirit. Continual endeavours were made at court to
restrain the Wittenbergers, but Luther was always beforehand with them.
Whenever the faithful Spalatinus warned him against the publication of
some new aggressive writing, he received for answer, that it could not
be helped; that the sheets were already printed, already in many hands,
and could not be withdrawn.[29] In intercourse also with his opponents
Luther acquired the confidence of an experienced combatant. He was very
indignant when in the spring of 1518, Jerome Emser had inveigled him at
Dresden to a supper, at which he was obliged to contend with angry
enemies; and still more when he heard that a begging Dominican had
listened at the door, and had the following day reported all over the
town that Luther had been put down by the number of his opponents, and
that the listener had with difficulty restrained himself from springing
into the room and spitting in his face. At the first interview with
Cajetan, he placed himself humbly at the feet of the Prince of the
Church; but after the second, he permitted himself to say that the
Cardinal was as well suited to his business as an ass to play on the
harp. He treated the polite Miltitz with corresponding civility; the
Romanist had hoped to tame the German Bear, but the courtier himself
was soon put in his proper position, and was made use of by Luther; in
the disputation at Leipsic with Eckius, the favourable impression
produced by Luther's unembarrassed, honest, and self-composed
demeanour, was the best counterbalance to the self-sufficient
confidence of his dexterous opponent.

But Luther's inward life demands a higher sympathy. It was a fearful
period for him; he experienced together with a sense of elevation and
victory, mortal anguish, tormenting doubts, and terrible temptations.
He, with a few others, stood against the whole of Christendom, always
opposed by the most powerful and implacable enemies; and these
comprised all that he had from his youth considered most holy. What if
he should be in error? He was answerable for every soul that he carried
away with him. And whither was he taking them? What was there beyond
the pale of the Church?--Destruction, temporal and eternal ruin.
Opponents and timid friends cut his heart with reproaches and warnings,
but incomparably greater was one pain, that secret gnawing and
uncertainty which he dared not confess to any one. In prayer, indeed,
he found peace; when his glowing soul soared up to God, he received
abundance of strength, rest, and cheerfulness; but in his hours of
relaxation, when his irritable spirit writhed under any obnoxious
impressions, he felt himself embarrassed, torn asunder, and under the
interdict of another power which was inimical to his God. From his
childhood he had known how busily evil spirits hover around men, and
from the Scriptures he had learned that the devil labours to injure
even the purest. On his own path lurked busy devils seeking to weaken
and entice him, and to make countless numbers miserable through him. He
saw them working in the angry mien of the Cardinal, the sneering
countenance of Eckius, and indeed in his own soul; and he knew how
powerful they were in Rome. In his youth he had been tormented by
apparitions, and now they had returned to him. Out of the dark shadows
of his study rose the tempter as a spectre, clutching at his reason,
and when praying, the devil approached him, even under the form of the
Saviour, radiant as king of heaven, with his five wounds as the old
Church represented him. But Luther knew that Christ only approaches
weak man in his word, or in humble form, as He hung upon the cross; so
by a violent effort he collected himself and cried out to the
apparition: "Away with thee, thou vile devil!" then the spectre
vanished.[30] Thus again and again for years did the stout heart of the
man struggle with wild excitement. It was a gloomy conflict between
reason and delusion; he always came out as conqueror, the primitive
strength of his healthy character gained the victory. In long hours of
prayer the stormy waves of excitement were calmed; his solid
understanding and his conscience led him always from doubt to security,
and he felt this expansion of his soul as a gracious inspiration from
his God. It was after such experiences, that he, who had been so
anxious and timid, became firm as steel, indifferent to the judgment of
men, intrepid and inexorable.

He appeared quite another person in his conflicts with earthly enemies;
in these he almost always showed the confidence of superiority, and
especially in his literary disputes.

The activity he displayed from this period as a writer was gigantic. Up
to the year 1517, he had published little; but after that he became not
only the most copious, but the most popular writer of Germany. By the
energy of his style, the power of his arguments, the fire and vehemence
of his convictions, he carried all before him. No one had as yet spoken
with such power to the people. His language adapted itself to every
voice and every key; sometimes brief, terse, and sharp as steel; at
others, with the rich fullness of a mighty stream his words flowed upon
the people; and a figurative expression or a striking comparison made
the most difficult things comprehensible. He had a wonderful creative
power, and pre-eminent facility in the use of language; when he took
his pen, his spirit seemed to emancipate itself: one perceives in his
sentences the cheerful warmth that animated him, and they overflow with
the magic creations of the heart. This power is very visible in his
attacks upon individual opponents, and was closely allied to rudeness,
which caused much perplexity to his admiring cotemporaries. He liked
also to play with his opponents: his fancy clothed them in a grotesque
mask, and he rallied, derided, and hit at this fantastic figure, in
expressions by no means measured, and not always very becoming. But the
good humour which shone out from the midst of these insults had
generally a conciliatory effect, though not upon those whom they
touched. Scarcely ever do we perceive any small enmities, but
frequently inexhaustible kindness of heart. Sometimes forgetting the
dignity of the reformer, he played antics like a German peasant child,
or rather like a mischievous hobgoblin. How he buffeted his
adversaries! now with the blows of an angry giant's club, now with the
rod of a buffoon. He delighted in transforming their names into
something ridiculous; thus they were known in the Wittenberger's circle
by the names of beasts and fools: Eckius became Dr. Geek,[31]
Murner[32] was called Katerkopf[33] and Krallen; Emser, who had his
crest (the head of a horned goat) engraved on every controversial
writing, was insulted by being changed into Bock;[34] the Latin name of
the apostate Humanitarian, Cochläus, was translated back into German,
and Luther greeted him as Schnecke (the snail) with impenetrable
armour, and--it grieves one to say--sometimes as Rotzlöffel.[35] Still
more annoying, and even shocking in the eyes of his cotemporaries, was
the vehement recklessness with which he broke forth against hostile
princes; the Duke George of Saxony, cousin to his own sovereign, was
the only one he was occasionally obliged to spare. The profligate
despotism of Henry VIII. of England was abhorrent to the soul of the
German reformer, who abused him terribly, and he dealt with Henry of
Brunswick as a naughty school-boy. It cannot, we fear, be denied that
it was this alloy to the moral dignity of his character that acted as
the salt, which made his writings so irresistible to the earnest
Germans of the sixteenth century.

In the autumn of 1517, he had a controversy with the reprobate
Dominican; in the winter of 1520, he burnt the papal bull; in the
spring of 1518, he still laid himself at the feet of the Pope as the
vicegerent of Christ; but in the spring of 1521, he declared before the
Emperor, princes, and papal nuncios at the Imperial Diet at Worms, that
he did not trust either in the Pope or the councils alone, but only in
the witness of the Holy Scripture and the convictions of his own
reason. He had now become a free man, but the papal interdict and the
ban of the empire hung over him; he was inwardly free, but he was free
like the wild beast of the forest, with the bloodthirsty hounds giving
tongue after him. He had now arrived at the acme of his life: the
powers against which he had revolted, and even the thoughts which he
had excited in the people, began now to work against his life and

It appears that already at Worms, Luther was warned that he must
disappear for a time. The habits of the Franconian knights, among whom
he had many faithful adherents, gave rise to the idea of carrying him
off by armed men. The Elector Frederic planned the abduction with his
confidential advisers; yet it was quite in the style of this Prince to
arrange that he himself should not know the place of his confinement,
that in case of necessity he might be able to affirm his ignorance. It
was not easy to make this plan acceptable to Luther, for his valiant
heart had long overcome all earthly fear, and with ecstatic pleasure,
in which there was much enthusiasm and some humour, he watched the
attempts of the Romanists who wished to take away his life; this,
however, was under the disposal of another and higher power, which
spoke through his mouth.[36] He unwillingly submitted; but however
cleverly the abduction was arranged, it was not easy to keep the
secret. In the beginning, Melancthon was the only one of the
Wittenbergers who knew the place of Luther's concealment; but Luther
was not the man to accommodate himself, even to the most well-meaning
intrigue, and soon messengers were actively passing to and fro between
the Wartburg and Wittenberg, so that whatever circumspection was
employed in the care of the letters, it was difficult to prevent the
spreading of reports. Luther in the castle, learned what was going on
in the great world sooner than the Wittenbergers; he received accounts
of all the news of his university, and endeavoured to raise the courage
of his friends and to guide their politics. It is touching to see how
he tried to strengthen Melancthon, whose unpractical nature caused him
to feel bitterly the absence of his stronger friend. "Things must go on
without me," Luther writes to him. "Only take courage and you will no
longer need me; if, when I come out, I cannot return to Wittenberg, I
must go out into the world. You are the men to maintain, without me,
the cause of the Lord against the devil." His letters are dated from
the "aerial regions," from "Patmos," from the "wilderness," "from among
the birds who sing sweetly among the branches, and praise God day and
night with all their powers." Once he endeavoured to be cunning:
writing to Spalatinus, he enclosed a crafty letter, saying, that it was
believed without foundation that he was at Wartburg. That he was living
among faithful brothers, and that it was remarkable no one thought of
Bohemia; it concluded with a not ill-natured thrust at Duke George of
Saxony, his keenest enemy. This letter, Spalatinus, with pretended
negligence, was to lose, that it might come into the hands of his
enemies; but in such diplomacy Luther was by no means consistent, for
no sooner was his lion nature roused by any intelligence, than he made
a hasty decision to burst forth to Erfurt or Wittenberg. He bore with
difficulty the tedium of his residence; he was treated with the
greatest consideration by the commander of the castle, and this care
showed itself chiefly, as was then the custom, in providing him with
the best food and drink. The good living, the absence of excitement,
the fresh air on horseback, which the theologian enjoyed, worked both
on soul and body. He had brought with him from Worms, a bodily ailment
from which arose hours of dark despondency, which made him incapable of

Two days successively he went out hunting; but his heart was with the
poor hares and partridges, which were hunted by a host of men and dogs
into a net. "Innocent little creatures! thus do the papists hunt." To
preserve the life of a little hare he concealed it in the sleeve of his
coat; then came the hounds and broke the limbs of the little animal
within the protecting coat. "Thus does Satan gnash his teeth against
the souls I seek to save." Luther had enough to do to defend himself
and his from Satan; he had thrown off all the authorities of the
Church, and now stood shuddering alone, only one thing remained to him,
the Scriptures. The old Church had been continually expounding
Christianity; traditions which were concurrent with the Scriptures,
councils and decrees of the Pope, had kept the faith in constant
agitation. Luther placed in its stead the word of Scripture, which
while it brought deliverance from a wilderness of erroneous soulless
conceptions, gave threatenings of other dangers. What was the Bible?
There were about two centuries between the oldest and the newest
writings of the holy book. The New Testament itself was not written by
Christ, nor even always by those who had received his holy teaching
from himself; it had been compiled long after his death, portions of it
might have been delivered incorrectly; all was written in a foreign
language that Germans could with difficulty understand. Expounders of
the greatest discernment were in danger of interpreting falsely if not
enlightened by the grace of God as the Apostles had been. The old
Church had brought to its assistance that sacrament which gave to the
priest's office this enlightenment; indeed the holy father assumed so
much of the omnipotence of God, that he considered himself in the right
even where his will was contrary to the Scripture. The reformer had
nothing but his weak human understanding and his prayers.

It was indeed imperative that Luther should use his reason, for a
certain degree of criticism upon the Holy Scriptures was necessary. He
did not set an equal value upon all the books of the New Testament: it
is known that he had doubts about the Revelations of St. John, and he
did not much value the Epistle of St. James; but objections to
particular parts never disturbed his faith in the whole; his belief in
the verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (with the exception of a
few books) could not be shaken; they were to him what was dearest on
earth, the groundwork of his whole knowledge; he was so thoroughly
imbued with their spirit, that he lived as it were under their shadow.
The more deeply he felt his responsibility, the more intense was the
ardour with which he clung to the Scriptures.[37] A powerful instinct
for what was rational and judicious helped him over many dangers; his
penetration had nothing of the hair-splitting sophistry of the old
teachers; he despised unnecessary subtleties, and with admirable tact
he left undecided what appeared to him not essential. But if he was not
to become a frantic or godless man, nothing remained to him but to
ground his new doctrines on the words which were spoken and written
fifteen hundred years before him, and he fell in some case into what
his opponent Eckius called "Black-letter style."

Under these restraints his method was formed. If he had a question to
solve, he collected all the passages in Scripture which appeared to him
to contain an answer; he examined each passage to understand their
mutual bearing, and thus arrived at his conclusions. By this mode of
proceeding, he brought the Scriptures within the compass of an ordinary
understanding; for example, in the year 1522, he undertook, out of the
Holy Scriptures, to place marriage on a new moral foundation; he
severely criticised the eighteen reasons given by ecclesiastical law,
forbidding and dissolving marriages, and condemned the unworthy
favouring of the rich in preference to the poor.

It was this same system which made him so pertinacious in his
transactions with the Reformers in the year 1529, when he wrote on the
table before him: "This _is_ my body;" and looked gloomily on the tears
and outstretched hands of Zwinglius. Never had that formidable man
shown more powerful convictions, convictions won in vehement wrestling
with his doubts and the devil. It may be considered by some as an
imperfect system; but there was a genial strength in it, that made his
own view more available to the cultivation and heart-cravings of his
time, than even he himself anticipated.

Besides these great trials, the proscribed monk at the Wartburg was
exposed to smaller temptations: he had long, by almost superhuman
spiritual activity, overcome, what great self-distrust led him to
consider as merely sensual inclinations; still nature stirred
powerfully in him, and he many times begged of his dear Melancthon to
pray for him concerning this.

It happened providentially, that just at this time at Wittenberg the
restless spirit of Karlstadt took up the subject of the marriage of
priests, in a pamphlet in which he decided that vows of celibacy were
not binding upon priests and monks. The Wittenbergers were in general
agreed on this question, especially Melancthon, who was perfectly
unbiassed, as he himself had never entered into holy orders, and had
been married two years.

Thus a web of thoughts and moral problems was cast from the outer world
upon Luther's soul, the threads of which enclosed the whole of his
later life. Whatever joy of heart and earthly happiness was vouchsafed
to him henceforth, rested on the answer to this question. It was the
happiness of his home that made it possible for him to bear the trials
of his later years; by that the full blossom of his rich heart was
first unfolded. So graciously did Providence send to him, just in the
time of his loneliness, the message which was to bind him anew, and
more firmly than ever to his people. Again, the way in which Luther
treated this problem is quite characteristic; his pious spirit and the
conservative tendency of his character strove against the hasty and
superficial way in which Karlstadt reasoned. It may be assumed, that
his own feelings made him suspicious as to whether this critical
question was not made use of by the devil, to tempt the children of
God; and yet the constraint upon the poor monks in the monasteries
grieved him much. He examined the Scriptures, and easily made up his
mind as to the marriage of priests; but there was nothing in the Bible
about monks: "Where the Scripture is silent, man is unsafe." It
appeared to him, withal, a laughable idea that his friends could marry,
and he wrote to the cautious Spalatinus: "Good God, our Wittenbergers
wish also to give wives to the monks! now they shall not so encumber
me;" and he warns him ironically: "Have a care that you also do not get
married;" yet this problem occupied him incessantly. Men live fast in
great times. Gradually, by Melancthon's reasoning, and we may add by
fervent prayer, he arrived at certainty. What, almost unknown to
himself, brought about the decision, was the perception that it had
become wise and necessary for the moral foundation of social life, that
the monasteries should be opened. For nearly three months this question
had been struggling in his mind; on the 1st November, 1521, he wrote
the afore-mentioned letter to his father.

Unbounded was the effect of his words on the people; they produced a
general excitement: out of almost all the cloister doors monks and nuns
slipped away; it was at first singly and by stealth, but soon whole
monasteries and convents dissolved themselves. When Luther in the
following spring returned to Wittenberg, his heart full of anxious
cares, the fugitive monks and nuns caused him a great deal of trouble.
Secret letters were forwarded to him from all quarters, chiefly from
excited nuns who had been placed as children in convents by harsh
parents, and being now without money or protection, looked to the great
Reformer for help; it was not unnatural that they should throng to
Wittenberg. Nine nuns came from the foundation for noble ladies at
Nimpschen, amongst them were a Staupitz, two Zeschau, and Catherine von
Bora; besides these there were sixteen other nuns to take care of, and
so forth. He was much grieved for these poor people, and hastened to
place them under the protection of worthy families. Sometimes, indeed,
it became too much of a good thing, and the crowd of runaway monks
especially annoyed him. He complains: "They desire immediately to
marry, and are unfit for every kind of work." He gave great scandal by
his bold solution of this difficult question; and there was much that
was very painful to his feelings; for amongst those who now returned in
tumult to social life, though there were some high-minded men, others
were coarse and dissolute. Yet all this did not for one moment make him
turn aside; he became, according to his nature, more decided from
opposition. When, in 1524, he published the history of the sufferings
of a nun, Florentina von Oberweimar, he repeated in the dedication what
he had so often preached: "God often testifies in the Scriptures that
He desires no compulsory service, and no one can become his, who is not
so in heart and soul. God help us! Is there nothing in this that speaks
to us? Have we not ears and understanding? I say it again, God will not
have compulsory service; I say it a third time, I say it a hundred
thousand times, God will have no compulsory service."[38]

Thus Luther entered the last period of his life. His disappearance in
the Thuringian forest had made an immense sensation. His opponents, who
were accused of his murder, trembled before the indignation which was
roused against them, both in city and country. The interruption,
however, of his public activity was pregnant with evil to him; as long
as he was at Wittenberg, the centre of the struggle, his word and his
pen could dominate the great spiritual movement both in the north and
south, but in his absence it worked arbitrarily in different
directions, and in many heads. One of Luther's oldest associates began
the confusion, and Wittenberg itself was the scene of action of a wild
commotion. Luther could no longer bear to remain at the Wartburg; he
had already been once secretly to Wittenberg; he now returned there
publicly, against the will of the Elector. Then began an heroic
struggle against old friends, and against conclusions drawn from his
own doctrines. His activity was superhuman; he thundered incessantly
from the pulpit, and his pen flew over the pages, in his cell. But he
was not able to bring back all the erring minds, neither could he
prevent the excitement of the people from gathering into a political
storm. What was more, he could not hinder the spiritual freedom which
he had won for the Germans, from producing, even in pious and learned
men, an independent judgment upon faith and life, which was often
opposed to his own convictions. Then came the dark years of the
Iconoclastic and Anabaptist struggle, the Peasant war; and the sad
dispute about the Sacrament. How often at this time did the figure of
Luther arise gloomy and powerful above the disputants! how often did
the perversity of men and his own secret doubts, fill him with anxious
cares about the future of Germany!

In this wild time of fire and sword, the spiritual struggle was carried
on more nobly and purely by him than by any one else. Every
interference of earthly power was hateful to him; he did not choose to
be protected even by his own sovereign, and would not have any human
support for his teaching. He fought with a sharp pen, alone against his
enemies; the only pile that he lighted was for a paper: he hated the
Pope as he did the devil, but he had always preached toleration and
Christian forbearance towards papists; he suspected many of having a
secret compact with the devil, but he never burnt a witch. In all the
Roman Catholic countries the stake was lighted for the confessors of
the new faith, and even Hutten was strongly suspected of having cut off
the ears of some monks; but so benevolent were Luther's feelings, that
he had heartfelt compassion for the humbled Tetzel, and wrote him a
consolatory letter. His highest political principle was obedience to
the authorities ordained by God, and he never rose in opposition to
them except when necessary for the service of God. On his departure
from Worms, although on the point of being declared free from
interdict, he was forbidden to preach; he did not, however, desist from
doing so, but suffered great anxiety lest it should be imputed to him
as disobedience. His conception of the unity of the Empire was quite
primitive and popular; the reigning princes and electors, according to
the laws of the Empire, owed the same obedience to the Emperor that
their own subjects did to them.

During the whole course of his life he took a heartfelt interest in
Charles V., not only in that early period when he greeted him as the
"Dear youth," but even later, when he knew well, the Spanish Burgundian
only tolerated the German reformation for political reasons: he said of
him, "He is good and quiet; he does not speak as much in one year as I
do in a day; he is the favourite of fortune:" he had pleasure in
extolling the Emperor's moderation, discretion, and long sufferance;
and after he had begun to condemn his policy, and to distrust his
character, he still insisted upon his companions talking with reverence
of the sovereign of Germany; for he said, apologetically, "A politician
cannot be as candid as we ecclesiastics." In 1530 he gave it as his
opinion, that it would be wrong in the Elector to arm in opposition to
the Emperor: it was not till 1537 that he unwillingly adopted a more
enlarged view; but even then, the threatened Prince was not to take up
arms first. So strongly in this man of the people still dwelt the
honourable tradition of a firm well-ordered state, at a time when the
proud edifice of that old Saxon and Frank empire was crumbling into
ruin; but there was no trace of servile feeling in this loyalty: when
the Elector on one occasion desired him to write a plausible letter,
his truthful feeling revolted against the Emperor's title of "Most
Gracious Sovereign," for the Emperor was not graciously disposed
towards him; and in his intercourse with people of rank he showed a
careless frankness that shocked the courtiers. To his own sovereign he
had with all submission spoken truths as only a great character can
speak, and to which only a good heart will listen. He had in general a
poor opinion of the German princes, though he esteemed individuals
among them; frequent and just are his complaints of their incapacity,
licentiousness, and other vices:[39] the nobles too he treated with
irony; the coarseness of most of them displeased him extremely.[40] He
felt a democratic aversion to the hard and selfish lawyers who
conducted the affairs of the princes, courted favour, and tormented the
poor; to the best of them he allowed only a doubtful prospect of the
grace of God: his whole heart, on the other hand, was with the
oppressed: he blamed the peasants sometimes for their obduracy and
their usuriousness, but he commended their class, regarded their vices
with heartfelt compassion, and remembered that he sprang from them.
These were his views on worldly government, but he served the
spiritual: he held firmly the popular idea, that there should be two
ruling powers,--the Church, and the princes, and he thought he was
justified in proudly placing the domination of the former above that of
worldly politics. He strove indignantly to prevent the governing powers
from assuming the control in matters pertaining to the care of souls
and to the autonomy of his communities. He estimated all politics with
reference to the interests of his faith and according to the laws of
his Bible. When the Scripture seemed to be endangered by worldly
politics, he raised his voice, indifferent where it hit: it was not his
fault that he was strong and the princes weak, and it ought to be no
reproach to him, the monk, the professor, and the shepherd of souls, if
the allied Protestant princes withstood the cunning statesmancraft of
the Emperor, like a herd of deer; he himself was so conscious that
politics were not his business, that when on one occasion the active
Landgrave of Hesse would not follow ecclesiastical advice, he was the
more esteemed for it by Luther: "He has a good head of his own; he will
be successful; he thoroughly understands the world."

Since Luther's return to Wittenberg a democratic agitation had been
fermenting amongst the people. Luther had opened the cloisters, and now
people desired to be delivered from many other social evils, such as
the destitution of the peasants, the ecclesiastical imposts, the
malversation of the benefices, and the bad administration of justice.
The honest heart of Luther sympathized with this movement, and he
exhorted and reproved the landed proprietors and princes; but when the
wild waves of the Peasant war poured over his own country, when deeds
of bloody violence wounded his spirit, and he found that factious men
and enthusiasts exercised a dominion over the multitudes which
threatened his doctrines with destruction, he threw himself with the
deepest indignation into the struggle against the rough masses. Wild
and warlike was his appeal to the princes; he was horrified at what had
taken place: the gospel of love had been disgraced by the headstrong
wilfulness of those who had called themselves its followers. His policy
was right; there was in Germany, unfortunately, no better power than
that of the princes; on them, in spite of everything, rested the future
of the father-land, for which neither the peasant serfs, nor the
rapacious noblemen, nor the dispersed cities of the empire, which stood
like islands in the midst of the surging sea, could give a guarantee:
he was entirely in the right; but in the same headstrong unbending way,
which had hitherto made his struggle against the hierarchy so popular,
he now turned against the people. A cry of dismay and horror was raised
among the masses. He was a traitor. He, who for eight years had been
their hero and darling, suddenly became the most unpopular of men:
again his life and liberty were threatened; even five years afterwards
it was dangerous for him to visit his sick father at Mansfeld, on
account of the peasants. The anger of the multitude worked also against
his teaching; the field preachers and new apostles treated him as a
lost, corrupt man.

He was excommunicated and outlawed by the higher powers, and cursed by
the people; even many well-meaning men had been displeased with his
attack on celibacy and monastic life. The nobility of the country
threatened to waylay the outlaw on the high-roads, because he had
destroyed the convents in which, as in foundling hospitals, the
respectable daughters of poor nobles were thrown in early childhood.
The Romish party triumphed; the new heresy was deprived of that which
had hitherto made it powerful; Luther's life and doctrines seemed
doomed to destruction.

It was at this time that Luther determined to marry. Catherine von Bora
had lived at Wittenberg for two years in the house of Reichenbach, the
town clerk, afterwards burgomaster. She was a fine young woman of
stately manners, the deserted daughter of a noble family of Meissen.
Twice had Luther endeavoured to obtain a husband for her, as with
fatherly care he had already done for many of her companions; at last
Catherine declared that she would not marry any man, unless it were
Luther himself, or his friend Amsdorf. Luther was astonished, but he
came to a rapid decision. Accompanied by Lucas Kranach, he went to woo
her, and was married to her on the spot. He then invited his friends to
his marriage feast, begged for venison from the court, which it was the
habit of the prince to present to the professors on their wedding days,
and received from the city of Wittenberg, as a bridal present, wine for
the feast. We would fain understand what passed through Luther's soul
at that time; his whole being was strained to the uttermost; his strong
and wild primitive nature was excited on all sides; he was deeply
shaken by the evils arising up everywhere around him, the burning
villages and slaughtered men. If he had been a mere fanatic he would
have ended in despair; but above the stormy disquiet, which is
perceptible in him up to his marriage, a bright light shone; the
conviction that he was the guardian of the divine law amongst the
Germans, and that in order to protect social order and morals, he was
bound to guide and not to follow the opinions of men. However eagerly
and warmly he might declaim in individual cases, he appears now
decidedly conservative and more firmly self-contained than ever. He
had, moreover, the impression that it was ordained that he should not
live much longer, and many were the hours in which he looked forward
with a longing to martyrdom. He concluded his marriage in full harmony
with his convictions. He had entered fully into the necessity of
marriage and its conformity with Scripture, and he had for some years
pressed all his acquaintances to marry, at last even his own opponent
the Archbishop of Mentz. He himself gives two reasons for his decision.
He had robbed his father for many years of his son; it would be to him
a kind of expiation, in case he should die first, to leave old Hans a
grandson. Besides this, it was also an act of defiance; his opponents
triumphed that Luther was humbled, all the world was offended with him,
and by this he would give them still more offence.

He was a man of strong passions, but there was no trace of coarse
sensuality; and we may assume that the best reason, which he did not,
however, avow to any of his friends, was yet the most decisive, and
that was, that there had long been gossip amongst people, and he
himself knew that Catherine was favourably disposed towards him. "I am
not passionately in love, but am very fond of her," he writes to one of
his dearest friends. And this marriage, concluded contrary to the
opinion of his cotemporaries, and amidst the derision of his opponents,
was an act to which we Germans owe as much, as we do to all the years
in which, as an ecclesiastic of the old Church, he had by deeds
supported his theology. For from henceforth the father, husband, and
citizen became also the reformer of the domestic life of his nation;
and that which was the blessing of his earthly life, in which Roman
Catholics and Protestants to this day have an equal interest, arose
from a marriage contracted between an outcast monk and a fugitive nun.
He had still, for one-and-twenty laborious years, to carry out the
moulding of his nation. His greatest work, the translation of the
Bible, which he had now brought to a conclusion, in union with his
Wittenberger friends, gave him an entire mastery over the language of
the people, a language, the richness and power of which first became
practically known by this book. We know in how noble a spirit he
undertook the work: he wished to produce a book for the people, for
that purpose he studied assiduously the forms of speech, proverbs, and
technical expressions used by them. The Humanitarians still continued
to write clumsy and involved German, a bad resemblance to the Latin
style. The nation now obtained for its daily reading a work which in
simple words and short sentences gave expression to the deepest wisdom
and the highest spiritual treasures. The German Bible, together with
Luther's other writings, became the groundwork of the new German
language; and this language, in which our whole literature and
spiritual life have found expression, is an indestructible possession,
which, though marred and spoilt, has even in the worst times reminded
the different branches of the German race that they belong to one
family. Individuals are now discarding their native dialects, and the
language of education, poetry, and science which was created by Luther
is the bond by which the souls of all Germans are united. Not less was
done by this same man for the social life of Germany. Private devotion,
marriage, the education of children, corporate life, school life,
manners, amusements, all feelings of the heart, all social pleasures
were consecrated by his teachings and writings; everywhere he
endeavoured to place new boundary stones and to dig deeper foundations.
There was no sphere of human duty over which he did not constrain his
countrymen to meditate. By his numerous sermons and essays he worked on
the public; by countless letters in which he gave counsel and comfort
to inquirers he worked on individuals. He urged incessantly upon all
the necessity of self-examination, and the duty of being well assured
what was owing from the father to the child, from the subject to the
sovereign, and from the chief magistrate to his community; the progress
he thus made was important in this respect, that he freed the
consciences of people; and in the place of outward pressure, against
which egotism had haughtily rebelled, he substituted everywhere a
genial self-control. How beautifully he comprehended the necessity of
cultivating the minds of children by school instruction, especially in
the old languages! How he recommended his beloved music to be
introduced into the schools! How great his views were when he advised
the magistrates to establish city libraries; and, again, how
conscientiously he endeavoured to secure freedom of choice in
matrimony! He had overthrown the old sacrament of marriage; but higher,
nobler, and freer, he established the inward relation of man and wife.
He had attacked the unwieldy monastic schools; everywhere in village
and city, as far as his influence reached, flourished better
institutions for the education of youth; he had removed the mass and
the Latin chantings; he gave instead, to both disciples and opponents,
regular preaching and the German chorale.

His desire to find something divine in all that was lovely, good, and
amiable, which the world presented to him, always kept increasing. With
this feeling he was ever pious and wise, whether in the fields, or in
decorous gaiety among his companions, in his playfulness with his wife,
or when holding his children in his arms. He rejoiced when standing
before a fruit tree at the splendour of the fruit: "If Adam had not
fallen, we might thus have admired all trees." He would take a large
pear admiringly in his hands, and exclaim: "See, six months ago it was
deeper under the earth than its own length and breadth, and has come
from the extreme end of the roots; these smallest, and least thought of
things are the most wonderful of God's works. He is in the smallest of
his creations, even to the leaf of a tree or a blade of grass." Two
little birds had made a nest in his garden, and flew about in the
evening, being frightened by the passersby: he thus addressed them:
"Ah, you dear little birds, do not fly away. I wish you well from my
heart, if you could only trust me--though I own we do not thus trust
our God." He had great pleasure in the companionship of true-hearted
men; he enjoyed drinking wine with them, and conversation flowed
pleasantly on both great and small matters; he sang, or played the
lute, and arranged singing-classes. He delighted in the art of music,
as it yielded innocent enjoyment. He was lenient in his judgment about
dancing, and spoke with indulgence--fifty years before Shakespeare--of
plays: "For they teach," said he, "like a mirror how every one should
behave himself."[41]

Once when sitting with Melancthon, the mild and learned master Philip
prudently moderated the too bold assertions of his vehement friend.
Rich people were the subject of conversation, and Frau Kate could not
resist remarking, eagerly, "If my husband had held such opinions he
would have become very rich." Then Melancthon replied decidedly: "That
is impossible, for those who thus strive after the good of the
community cannot attend to their own interest." There was one subject,
however, on which both men liked to argue. Melancthon was a great lover
of astrology; Luther looked on this science with sovereign contempt; on
the other hand, by his method of Biblical exegesis, and also by his
secret political views, he had come to the conviction that the end of
the world was near; and that appeared very doubtful to the sagacious
Melancthon. When therefore the latter began with his signs and aspects
of the heavens, and explained that Luther's success was owing to his
having been born under the sign of the sun, Luther exclaimed: "I have
no faith in your Sol. I am the son of a peasant; my father,
grandfather, and ancestors have all been thorough peasants." "Yes,"
answered Melancthon, "but even in a village you would have become the
leader, the magistrate, or the head labourer over all others." "But,"
exclaimed Luther, triumphantly, "I became a Baccalaureus, a master, and
a monk; that was not written in the stars: after that, I quarrelled
with the Pope, and he with me. I have taken a nun for my wife, and
have had children by her; who has seen that in the stars?" Again
Melancthon--continuing his astrological exposition--began to explain
about the Emperor Charles; how he was destined to die in the year 1584.
Then Luther broke out vehemently: "The world will not last so long, for
when we have driven away the Turks, the prophecy of Daniel will be
fulfilled, and the end of all things come, then assuredly the last day
is at hand."

How amiable he was as the father of a family! When his little children
were standing at the table watching eagerly the peaches and other
fruit, he said, "Whoever wishes to see a picture of one who rejoices in
hope, will see it truly portrayed here. Oh, that we could look as
joyfully for the last day. Adam and Eve must have had far better
fruits: ours are in comparison only like crabs. The serpent was then, I
have no doubt, the most beautiful of creatures, amiable and lovely; it
still has its crest, but after the curse it lost its feet and beautiful
body." Looking at his little son, just three years old, who was playing
and talking to himself, he said, "This child is like a drunken man; he
does not know that he lives, and yet he enjoys life in security,
jumping and skipping about." He drew the child towards him, and thus
addressed him: "Thou art our Lord's little innocent, not under the law,
but under the covenant of grace and forgiveness of sins; thou fearest
nothing, but art secure and without cares, and what thou doest is
pure." He then continued: "Parents always love their youngest children
best; my little Martin is my dearest treasure: the little ones have
most need of care and love, therefore the love of parents naturally
descends. What must have been the feeling of Abraham when he had to
sacrifice his youngest and dearest son? he could not have told Sarah
about it; this journey must have been a bitter one to him." His beloved
daughter Magdalen lay dying; he laments thus: "I love her very much,
but, dear Lord, as it is thy will to take her to thee, I am content to
know that she is with thee. Magdalen, my little daughter, thou wouldst
willingly remain with thy father here, yet gladly goest to thy Father
yonder." The child then said, "Yes, dear father, as God wills it." As
she was dying, he fell on his knees by the bed, weeping bitterly, and
praying that God would redeem her. She then passed away in her father's
arms. When the people came to bury her, he addressed them as was usual,
saying, "I am joyful in spirit, but the flesh is weak; parting is
beyond measure grievous. It is a wonderful thing, that, though feeling
assured of all being well with her, and that she is at peace, one
should yet feel so sorrowful." His _dominus_, or Herr Kate, as he used
to call his wife in his letters to his friends, had soon become an apt
and thrifty housewife. She had great troubles; many children, her
husband frequently an invalid, a number of boarders (masters and poor
students), always open house--as it seldom happened that they were
without learned or distinguished guests, and in addition to all, a
scanty income and a husband who preferred giving to taking; and who
once during his wife's confinement got hold in his zeal of the baby's
christening plate to give in alms.[42] From the way in which Luther
treated her, we see how happy his family life was, and when he made
allusions to the glib chattering of women, he had no right to do so,
for he was by no means a man who was himself scanty in words. Once,
when his wife appeared much delighted at being able to serve up
different kinds of fish from the pond in their little garden, the
doctor was heartily pleased to see her joy, and did not fail to take
the opportunity of making a pleasant remark upon the happiness of
contentment. Another time, when he had been reading to her too long in
the Psalter, and she said that she heard enough upon sacred subjects,
that she read much daily, and could talk about them, "God only grant
that she might live accordingly," the doctor sighed at this sensible
answer, and said, "Thus begins a weariness of the word of God; new
trifling books will come in the place of the Scriptures, which will
again be thrown into a corner." But this close union between these two
excellent persons was still for many years disturbed by a secret
sorrow. We only learn what was gnawing at the soul of the wife, by
finding, that when as late as the year 1527, Luther, being dangerously
ill, took a last leave of her, he spoke these words:--"You are my true
wedded wife, of that you may feel certain."

Luther's spiritual life was as much a reality to him as his earthly
one. All the holy personages of the Bible were to him as true friends;
through his lively imagination he saw them in familiar forms, and with
the simplicity of a child he liked to picture to himself the various
circumstances of their life. When Veit Dietrich asked him what kind of
person he thought the Apostle Paul was, Luther answered quickly, "He
was an insignificant, lean little man, like Philip Melancthon." He
formed a pleasing image of the Virgin Mary: he used to say, admiringly,
"She was a pretty, delicate maiden, and must have had a charming

He preferred thinking of the Redeemer as a child with his parents; how
he took his father's dinner to the timber-yard, and how when he had
been absent too long, Mary asked him, "Where have you been so long,
little one?"

The Saviour should be thought of, not as in his glory, nor as the
fulfiller of the law, conceptions too high and terrible for man; but
only as a poor sufferer, who lived among and died for sinners.

His God was to him entirely as father and head of the family. He liked
to meditate on the economy of nature: he was filled with astonishment
at the quantity of wood which God must always be creating. "No one can
reckon what God requires to nourish merely sparrows and useless birds:
in one single year they cost Him more than the income of the King of
France; and then think of all that remains." "God understands all
trades: as a tailor He can make a coat for the deer, which might last a
hundred years; as a shoemaker He gives him shoes to his feet, and by
means of the dear sun He is a cook. He could become rich indeed, if He
chose, if He were to withhold the sun and air, and threatened the Pope,
Emperor, bishops, and doctors with death, if they did not pay Him a
hundred thousand gulden on the spot. He does not do this, yet we are
thankless miscreants." He seriously reflected whence came the means of
nourishment for so many men. Old Hans Luther had maintained that there
were more men than sheaves of corn; the doctor indeed thought that
there were more sheaves than men, but that there were more men than
shocks. "A shock of corn, however, hardly yields a bushel, and that
will not nourish one man a whole year." Even a dung-heap was a subject
of pleasant reflection to him. "God is obliged to clear away as well as
to create; if He had not continually done so, the world would long ago
have become too full." "When God chastises the godly more severely than
the godless, He deals with him as a strict father of a family with his
son, whom he more frequently punishes than the bad servant: but he
secretly collects treasures as an inheritance for his son, whilst he
finally casts the servant off." Luther comes joyfully to this
conclusion: "If God can forgive me for having during twenty years
offended Him by saying mass, He can also excuse my having sometimes had
a good drink to his honour--let the world think what it will."

It surprised him much that God should be so very wrath with the Jews.
"For fifteen hundred years they have prayed fervently with great zeal
and earnestness, as their little prayer-books show; and He has not
revealed himself to them during the whole time by the smallest word. I
would give two hundred florins' worth of books if I could pray as they
do. It must be a great and unspeakable anger. Ah! dear Lord, punish me
with pestilence, rather than be thus silent!"

Luther prayed like a child morning and evening, and often during the
day, even indeed, during his meals. He repeated again and again with
fervent devotion those prayers which he knew by heart. His favourite
was the Lord's Prayer, and then he repeated the short catechism; he
always carried the Psalter with him as a little prayer-book. When he
was in extreme trouble his prayer became like a storm, a wrestling with
God, the power, the greatness, and the holy simplicity of which can
hardly be compared with any other human emotion. He was then the son
who despairingly lies at the feet of his father, or the faithful
servant who supplicates his prince. For nothing could shake his
conviction that we may influence God's decisions by prayer and
supplication. Thus overflowing feelings alternated in his prayers with
complaints and even remonstrances. It is often related how, in the year
1540, he restored to life the dying Melancthon at Weimar. When Luther
arrived he found "_Magister Philippus_" at the point of death,
unconscious and with closed eyes. Luther, struck with terror, said,
"God forbid! how has this organ of God been marred by the devil!" Then
he turned his back on those assembled, and went to the window as he was
wont to do when he prayed. "Now," said Luther, "must the Lord God
stretch forth his hand to me, for I have brought the matter home to
Him, and dinned in his ears all his promises as to the efficacy of
prayer, which I could repeat from the Holy Scripture, so that He must
hearken to me if I am to trust his promises." Then he took Melancthon
by the hand, saying, "Be comforted, Philip, you will not die:" and
Melancthon, under the spell of his powerful friend, began at once to
breathe again, and recovered his consciousness. He was restored.

As God was to Luther the source of all good, so was the devil the
producer of all evil and wickedness. He considered that the devil
interfered destructively with the course of nature by illness or
pestilence, deformity and famine. All that this deep-thinking man
preached so firmly and joyfully had formerly pressed with fearful
weight upon his conscience; especially when awaking in the night, the
devil stood full of malice by his bed, whispering horrors in his ear;
then his spirit wrestled for freedom, often for a length of time in
vain. It is extraordinary what this son of the sixteenth century went
through in these inward struggles. Every fresh inquiry into the
Scriptures, every important sermon upon a new theme, threw him again
into this strife of conscience: then he reached such a state of
excitement that his soul became incapable of systematic thought, and
for whole days he trembled with anguish. When he was occupied with the
question of monks and nuns, a text of the Bible startled him, which he
thought, in his excitement, placed him in the wrong: his heart died
within him, and he was nearly strangled by the devil. At this time
Bugenhagen visited Luther, who showed him the threatening text.[43]
Bugenhagen, probably infected by the eagerness of his friend, began
also to doubt, unconscious of the greatness of the misery which it
occasioned Luther. Now was Luther indeed terrified, and again passed a
fearful night. The next morning Bugenhagen came back. "I am very
angry," he said; "I have now, for the first time, understood the text
rightly; it has quite another sense." "And it is true," said Luther
later, "it was a ridiculous argument; ridiculous indeed for one who is
in his right mind, and not under temptation."

He often lamented to his friends, over the terrors which these
struggles with the devil occasioned him. "He has never been from the
beginning so fierce and raging as now, at the end of the world. I feel
him well. He sleeps much nearer to me than my Kate; that is to say, he
gives me more disquiet than she does pleasure." Luther never ceased to
abuse the Pope as antichrist, or the papal system as devilish. But
whoever observes more accurately, will perceive behind this hatred of
the devil, the indestructible reverence by which the loyal spirit of
the man was bound to the old Church. What became to him temptations,
were often only the pious recollections of his youth, which stood in
striking contrast to the changes he had gone through as a man.

Indeed, no man is entirely transformed by the great thoughts and deeds
of his manhood. We ourselves do not become new through new actions; our
inward life consists of the sum of all the thoughts and feelings which
we have ever had. He who has been chosen by fate to create the new by
the destruction of the old, shatters in pieces at the same time a
portion of his own life: he must violate lesser duties to fulfil
greater ones. The more conscientious he is, the more deeply he feels
the rent which he has made in the order of the world, and also in his
own inward nature. This is the secret sorrow, and even the regret, of
every great historical character. Few mortals have felt this grief so
deeply as Luther; and that which was so great in him, was his never
being prevented by this feeling from acting with the utmost boldness.

This appears to us a tragical moment in his inward life; and equally so
was the effect of his teaching upon the life of the nation. He had laid
the foundation of a new Church upon the pure Gospel, and had given
greater depth and substance to the minds and conscience of the people.
Around him burst forth a new life, greater general prosperity, many new
arts, improvements in painting and music, comfortable enjoyment, and
more refined cultivation in the middle classes. Yet there was a
something gloomy and ominous which pervaded the German atmosphere.
Fierce discord raged amongst princes and governors. Foreign powers were
arrayed against the people, the Emperor from Spain, the Pope from Rome,
and the Turks from the Mediterranean; enthusiasts and factious spirits
were powerful, the hierarchy had not yet fallen. Had his gospel given
greater unity and power to the nation? The discord had become only
greater, and the future of his Church seemed dependent on the worldly
interests of individual German princes. And well he knew what even the
best among them were. Something terrible seemed approaching, the
Scripture would be fulfilled, the last day was at hand. But afterwards
God would raise up a new world, more beautiful, more splendid, and more
pure, full of peace and blessing; a world in which there would be no
devil; where the soul of man would find more enjoyment in the flowers
and fruit of the new heavenly trees, than the present race do in gold
and silver; where music, the most beautiful of all arts, would give
birth to tones more entrancing than the most splendid song of the best
singers of this world; and where good men would find again all that
they had loved and lost.[44]

Ever more powerful became in him the longing of the creature after an
ideal purity of existence. If he expected the end of the world, it was
the dim traditions of the German people from the distant past which
still veiled the heaven of the new Reformer; and yet it was at the same
time a prophetic presentiment of what was at hand. It was not the end
of the world which was approaching, but the Thirty years' war.

So he died. As the hearse bearing his corpse passed through the country
of Thuringia, the bells tolled in every village and town, and the
people pressed sobbing round his coffin. A large share of German
popular strength was buried with this one man. Philip Melancthon, in
the church of the castle at Wittenberg, standing before the corpse of
Luther, said: "Every one who has known him well must bear witness that
he was a truly good man; gracious in speech, friendly and lovable; not
in the least insolent, violent, obstinate, or quarrelsome; and yet
there was an earnestness and boldness in his words and bearing
befitting such a man. His heart was true, and without guile; the
harshness which appeared in his writings against the enemies of his
doctrine, did not arise from a quarrelsome or bad spirit, but from his
great earnestness and zeal for the truth. He showed great courage and
manliness, and did not allow himself to be easily frightened. He was
not dispirited by threatenings and danger. He possessed such a lofty
and clear understanding, that in confused, dark, and difficult
circumstances, he could see sooner than others what was to be
counselled and done. He was not, as some perhaps have thought, so
heedless as not to have remarked how it fared everywhere with the
governments. He knew right well in what government consists, and paid
assiduous attention to the opinions and will of the people with whom he
had to do. Let us have a constant and undying remembrance of this our
beloved father, and keep him ever in our hearts."[45]

Such was Luther, a superhuman nature; his mind was ponderous and
sharply defined, his will powerful and temperate, his morals pure, and
his heart full of love. As besides him no other powerful spirit arose
strong enough to become the leader of the nation, the German people
have lost for centuries the supremacy over the world; their supremacy
in the realm of mind rests however upon Luther. That he may in
conclusion speak for himself, we will give a letter to the Elector
Frederic the Wise, written at the time when Luther's whole powers were
most strongly developed. The prudent prince had commanded him to remain
at Wartburg, because he could not protect him at Wittenberg, as the
anger of the Duke George of Saxony would lead him to insist immediately
upon the carrying out of the ban of the empire against Luther. Luther
then writes to his sovereign:--

"Most Serene Highness, Illustrious Elector, and Gracious Sovereign!
Your Electoral Highness's letter and gracious remembrance of me,
reached me on Friday evening, when I was preparing to leave on Sunday
morning. I need truly neither proof nor witness that your Electoral
Highness's intentions are for the best, for I am as fully convinced
thereof as any human being can be.

"Yet in this matter, Gracious Sovereign, I must answer thus: your
Electoral Highness knows, or if you do not know, permit me hereby to
make you acquainted with it, that I have not received the gospel from
man, but from heaven alone, through our Lord Jesus Christ, so that I
may, and indeed from henceforth will, boast and sign myself a servant
and evangelist. If I have presented myself for trial and judgment, it
was not because I doubted the truth, but from overflowing humility, and
to persuade others. I have done enough for your Electoral Highness in
leaving my place vacant for a whole year for the sake of your Electoral
Highness. The devil knows well that I have not done it from fear. He
saw what a heart I had when I came to Worms; for if I had known that as
many devils were lying in wait for me as there were tiles on the roofs,
yet I would have rushed into the midst of them with joy.

"Now the Duke George is very unlike even a single devil. And since our
Father, in his unfathomable mercy, has, by his gospel made us joyful
lords over death and all devils, and has given us such a fullness of
assurance that we may call Him 'Dearly beloved Father,' your Electoral
Highness can yourself judge that it would be the greatest offence to
such a Father if we did not so trust Him as to be above the anger of
Duke George. For my part I know well, I would gladly ride into his own
Leipzig--I hope your Electoral Highness will forgive my foolish
jesting--even though it should rain, proud Duke Georges during nine
following days, and every one should be ninefold more furious than this
one. He considers my Lord Christ only a man of straw; this my Lord and
I can well bear with for a time. But I will not conceal from your
Electoral Highness that I have not once only, but often prayed and wept
for Duke George, that God would enlighten him. I will still once more
pray and weep for him, but after that never more. And I beg of your
Electoral Highness to help and pray also that we may turn from him the
evil, which, God help him, weighs incessantly upon him. I would at once
strangle Duke George with a word if it could be thus removed.

"I have written thus to your Electoral Highness, with the intention of
making known to you that I come to Wittenberg under a far higher
protection than that of the Elector. I also do not intend to request
the protection of your Electoral Highness, for indeed, I think I could
better protect your Electoral Highness than you could protect me. So
much so, that if I knew your Electoral Highness could protect me, and
would do so, I would not come. It is not the sword which can counsel or
help in this business; it is God alone who can act, without any human
assistance; therefore he who has most faith will have most power to

"As I therefore perceive that your Electoral Highness is as yet weak in
faith, I can in no wise regard your Electoral Highness as the man to
protect or deliver me.

"As your Electoral Highness desires to know what you shall do in this
business, especially as you think that you have done too little, I
answer, with all due submission, that your Electoral Highness has done
too much, and should do nothing. For God will not allow of our cares
and doings; He will have every doing left to himself, to himself and no
other. May your Electoral Highness act accordingly.

"If your Electoral Highness believes this, you will have security and
peace; if you do not, I do, and must leave your Electoral Highness in
your unbelief, to torment yourself with the anxieties which all
unbelievers deservedly suffer. As, therefore, I will not obey your
Electoral Highness, you will be excused before God if I should be
imprisoned or put to death. Towards men your Electoral Highness ought
thus to conduct yourself. You should as Elector be obedient to the
supreme authority, and should allow the Imperial majesty to rule in
your towns and provinces, over persons and property, in conformity with
the laws of the empire, and should not attempt to prevent or oppose, or
make any hindrance or resistance to this power if it should seize and
kill me. For no one should resist authority, he excepted by whom it has
been established, otherwise it is revolt, and against God. But I hope
that your Electoral Highness will be reasonable, and perceive that you
are in too high a position to become my gaoler. If your Electoral
Highness keeps the door open, and grants a free escort in case my
enemies themselves or their emissaries should come to seize me, you
will have done enough for obedience-sake. They cannot indeed demand
more of your Electoral Highness, than to learn the residence of Luther
in your Electoral Highness's dominions. And that, they shall do without
any care, work, or danger on the part of your Electoral Highness; for
Christ has not yet taught men to be Christians to the injury of others.

"If, however, they should be so unreasonable as to command your
Electoral Highness to lay hands on me yourself, I will then tell you
what is to be done: I will secure your Electoral Highness from injury
and danger to person, property, and soul, in what concerns me. Your
Electoral Highness may or may not believe this.

"Herewith I commend your Electoral Highness to God's grace; of anything
further we will speak when it is needful. For I have written this in
haste, that your Electoral Highness may not be troubled by the report
of my arrival, for I must comfort and not injure any one if I would be
a true Christian. I have to deal with quite a different man to Duke
George: we know each other well. If your Electoral Highness would have
faith, you would see the glory of God; but because you have not yet
faith, you have not seen it. Love and praise be to God in eternity.
Amen. Given at Borna by the messenger, Ash Wednesday, anno 1522.

"Your Electoral Highness's most obedient servant,

                                                  "Martin Luther."

                              CHAPTER VII.


Luther was dead. Over his grave raged the Smalkaldic war. Charles V.
made a triumphal progress through humiliated Germany.

Only once did these two men confront each other--these great opponents
whose spirits are still struggling in the German nation,--the
Burgundian Hapsburger and the German peasant's son--the Emperor
and the professor;--the one, who spoke German only to his horse; the
other, who translated the Bible and formed the new German language of
literature;--the one, the predecessor of the Jesuit protectors and the
originator of the Hapsburger family politics; the other, the forerunner
of Lessing the great German poet, historian, and philosopher.

It was a moment in German history pregnant with fate, when the young
Emperor, lord of half the world, spoke at Worms the disdainful
words,--"That man shall not make me a heretic." For then began the
struggle between his house and the spirit of the German nation. A
struggle of three centuries; victory and defeat on both sides; its
final issue not to be doubted.

When the German princes and lords of the Empire, with the envoys from
the free cities, rode to the Diet, they assembled to transact business
with the two rulers of Germany. These two rulers were the Pope and the

The Pope ruled in the holy Roman Empire of the German nation, not only
as chief bishop in his spiritual capacity, but equally as a political
power. A third of Germany was under the rule of ecclesiastical princes,
who had at least to be confirmed by the Pope. The greatest part of his
income he drew from the Empire; his legates sat at the Imperial Diet,
among the ecclesiastical and temporal Electors, and could even open it
without the Emperor.

When the Emperor would not confirm the Count Palatine Frederic the
Victorious in the Electoral dignity, this temporal prince accepted the
confirmation of the Pope. The Pope endeavoured to bring every difficult
political negotiation before his court; indeed, he granted rights of
custom, he annulled the Imperial ban, and ventured by his own power to
exact tithes.

The Emperor was still considered the nominal centre of the Empire, and
the source of all power. All hastened, upon his accession, to obtain
from him the confirmation of old freedoms and privileges, and he was
the first judge and first general of the Empire, but could not raise a
single thaler of money or a single soldier without the consent of the
Diet. And what was of still greater importance, he could only obtain
taxes and soldiers from among the vassals, by the consent of their
feudal lords. Hesitatingly and sparingly did the Diet grant subsidies,
and so defective was the payment that the grant became a mere farce.

Within the Empire, Electors, princes, nobles, and Imperial cities ruled
their territories, with many gradations of sovereign rights. The
greater princes were real sovereigns, their power only restricted by
their states. Noble families, holding temporal principalities in
heritable possession, strove incessantly to enlarge their power, to put
down the smaller lords round them, and to limit the sovereign rights of
the Emperor. In the fifteenth century they had reduced the Imperial
power almost to a shadow. It was only by extending the power of his
house that the Emperor Maximilian was able to maintain himself against

We may easily perceive that there were two ways of remodelling this
clumsy state edifice of the middle ages. In one case the power of the
great princes might rise so high, that the temporal influence of the
Pope and the supremacy of the Emperor would be overthrown; then Germany
would be divided into a number of individual states, whose conflicts,
wars, and destinies might for centuries throw the whole of central
Europe into weakness and confusion, and which at last, in another state
of development, might lead to new endeavours to restore unity to the
Empire. It has been the fate of Germany up to the present time to
follow this dangerous path.

In the other case, the Emperor might have succeeded in adding to the
old groundwork of his power, such real strength, that the opposition of
all the ruling princes would be broken, and Germany gradually changed
into a modern state, that would either enclose the individual
governments in perfect unity, or at least concentrate all the highest
powers of government in the hand of one ruler. To form such a state,
the Hapsburgers of the sixteenth century, and with more wilful
obstinacy those of the seventeenth, have striven to the injury of the
German nation and themselves; yet in the year 1519, when Maximilian
died, the prospect opened to an able prince was grand, though the power
of his house was moderate.

The time had arrived when a German Emperor might raise his power above
the heads of all the princes, and with irresistible strength overthrow
every opponent; for just at that time a new power arose in Germany,
imperative in its demands, and capable of the greatest results,--public
opinion. The Reform movement in the Church combined also within it the
germ of great political reforms. Had an Emperor arisen who would have
sympathized with the needs of the German spirit, who would have united
himself with the Reformation, and known how to raise it for his own
aims in an exalted spirit, he would have had it in his power to form
out of the Empire a new state and a united German Church: it was the
highest prize that ever was offered to an ambitious prince; and how
favourable would have been his position! The nation was deeply roused
against the hierarchy and Romish influence, and the Reformation began
with a struggle against the highest of the ecclesiastical electors.
Three Electorates, more than seventy Imperial dignities, comprising the
largest third of the whole country of Germany, were in the hands of
ecclesiastical lords, who would all have fallen had the Reformation
been undertaken by the Emperor and people. The Emperor would have found
in the movement, powers which would have made his Imperial army
irresistible; the evangelical preachers could not in a moment have
transformed awkward peasants into skilled soldiers; but they might have
infused into the armies of the Emperor, much of the enthusiasm and
reckless daring which the best among them made proof of in their own
lives; besides which, comprehensive ideas of political reform sprang up
in the circle of the Huttens and Sickingens; and a German Emperor might
well have found in such ideas the means of reconciling the conflicting
interests of peasants, citizens, and knights, at least sufficiently so
to serve his own purposes. How could the German princes, disunited as
they always were, have withstood an Emperor with such allies,
strengthened by a well-established income, and leader of an army which
for the first time since the Crusades would have been animated by a
great idea? Good grounds would such an emperor have had to have
respected old families: it would not have been necessary for him to
take the Electoral crown from off their heads, but he might have
reduced them to be dignitaries of one great united empire, in which the
highest jurisdiction and the power of the army would have been vested
in him alone: the want of such a man was for centuries the misfortune
of Germany.

It is difficult to do justice to the German princes of the sixteenth
century; their position was unfavourable for the formation of their
character and for the development of elevated political action. They
were too great to be loyal vassals, but not powerful enough, with only
moderate abilities, to conduct the affairs of the nation in a liberal
spirit. They were for the most part pretentious _Junkers_; their
selfishness appeared to foreigners rapacious, their manners rude, their
greed insatiable.

The private life of many of them was stained by the blackest crimes; a
few of them were at heart pious; their religion was, we hope, a
restraint in the hour of temptation, but it did not contribute to
enlarge their political views. There was a patriarchal feeling among
many of them. Such were Frederic the Wise and his next successor; such
also was the Margrave Ernest of Baden, who used to have condemned
criminals brought to him before their execution, that he might give
them comfort from the Gospel, and beg for their forgiveness (as he felt
obliged to fulfil his duty), and who offered them his hand at parting.
Besides men of this kind there were others, overbearing, profligate,
and wicked; such was Duke Ulrich of Würtemberg, who stabbed Hans Hutten
in the forest because he wished to obtain possession of his wife. But
though at most of the courts consideration for wife and children
compelled a certain degree of moderation, the ecclesiastical princes
were not even under this restraint. They were in the worst repute, and
the more athletic preferred the helmet and the hunting-spear to the
vestments of the Church, which some of them wore very awkwardly. There
were bishops and archbishops who hardly knew the ritual of their
Church. Once when a Latin discourse was to be made, it appeared that
the highest princes of the Church could not speak that language, and
the Margrave of Brandenburg was obliged to do it.

It was through princes like these that Charles, sovereign of Lower
Burgundy and the Netherlands, King of Spain and Naples, Duke of Milan,
and Lord of the new world on the other side of the ocean, became also
Emperor of Germany. It is well known how long and actively the
intrigues both for him and the King of France were pursued. There was
no Electoral house to which money or promises were not proffered by
both parties, and none which did not negotiate for its own advantage.
At last Frederic the Wise decided the election, and dear has his
family paid for this decision. When the young king was crowned at
Aix-la-Chapelle, where, to the great delight of the assembled
multitude, he caused his horse to prance joyously before them, and
when, after the coronation, the heralds proclaimed that the Emperor
would, by permission of his Holiness the Pope, take the title of "Roman
Emperor Elect," there were absent from the festive train the Electors
of Saxony and Brandenburg, the Princes of the two houses which from
henceforth were to lead the German opposition against the house of

The fate of Germany was decided by the election of Charles V. He was
not entirely a Burgundian, not always a Spaniard, not an Italian, and
least of all a German. His position was too high, for him to make it
the interest of his life to meet the requirements of any one of the
many nations under his sway. The unfortunate part of his exalted
position was, that he could only carry out a personal policy,
subordinating sometimes one, sometimes another country to the course of
his plans, the ultimate aim of which was the advantage of his own
family. Had Charles been less able and less moderate, what was
insupportable in these incongruities would have been felt as a
grievance by all his states; but seldom has a prince maintained so
long, a position in itself untenable. At last, however, the catastrophe
arrived. After thirty years of fame and success, he broke down, and the
misery of Germany became apparent.

Although he had so little in common with the Germans, still he was not
unpopular in the Empire. The people of Germany looked upon him as
Luther himself did. The confiding attachment with which the Germans
received the grandson of Maximilian was almost touching; his noble,
reserved, and composed bearing had an imposing effect upon all. In the
beginning the best was hoped of him, and later also, even the
Protestants who had experienced his displeasure, rejoiced when he
encountered the Pope or conquered the French King. Long did the German
nation continue to feel itself exalted by the glory and splendour of
his government. Charles did his best; he spared the prejudices of the
Germans, indulged them more than any of his other people, and even when
he sided with a party, he knew how to conciliate his opponents by his
benevolent dignity. At last, however, the time came when his pride and
pretensions rose so high that the intractable independence of the
Protestant party became insupportable to him, and then his long
concealed opposition broke forth into hate. Suddenly, a storm arose
against him among the people. As in the first years of Luther, a sea of
small literature again overflowed the country: they fought against him
in prose and verse, and they depended more on the support of heaven
than was wise. The successor of Duke George of Saxony, that most
zealous opponent of the Reformation, the Protestant Maurice, united
himself with the Emperor against his own family, and the Protestant
party was defeated.

Now the Emperor Charles had attained the height of his power; the
battle of Mühlberg was won; the Smalkaldic league had fallen to pieces
ingloriously. The Protestant princes and cities hastened to make their
peace with that lord of half Europe, to whom in an evil hour they had
been so eager to offer the dominion over them. Carrying away with him
the captive Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse, he marched
from the Saale in triumphant procession to Augsburg, accompanied by his
army of Spaniards, and Flemings, and German _Landsknechte_. There all
the most powerful of Germany were gathered together at the Diet to
obtain pardon or reward, to pay court to the most mighty sovereign that
for centuries had ruled over Germany, to decide their own future and
that of their Fatherland, and to seek pleasure and adventures. Amidst
this crowd of sovereigns and dynasties, courtiers, swindlers, soldiers,
and deputations of citizens, was one Bartholomew Sastrow, the son of a
citizen of Greifswald. He was actively employed as agent of the Dukes
of Pomerania, who were strongly compromised by their Protestant
alliances, and preferred not to appear in person before the Emperor. In
his biography (edited 1823) Sastrow has left some, lively descriptions
of what he experienced after the battle of Mühlberg, during the
triumphal march of the Emperor to Augsburg and the Diet. The historical
value of his narrative is not insignificant. He made good observations
in his subordinate position, and had connections enough to be enabled
to form a true conception of the character of the great lords; and
however insignificant some of his anecdotes may be, they help, on the
whole, to show men and great events in a new light. The following is a
faithful quotation from his words, but from the lengthiness of his
narrative parts, only have been given.

"The Pomeranian councillors desired me to remain in the Imperial camp,
and to put myself under the protection of George von Wedell. This
Pomeranian nobleman had stabbed his own cousin, and was in disgrace
with Duke Barnim, but was now serving the Emperor with nine-and-twenty
horse. Under my guidance he made himself so useful to the Pomeranian
dukes, that Duke Barnim, at my earnest petition, restored him to
favour, and reinstated him in his own property. Thus I remained with my
steed at the Imperial court at Augsburg; how it fared with me on this
march, and what I saw and heard, is here correctly recorded.

"It is customary in war for comrades to steal each other's horses, and
they remain unpunished; the process is as follows. If any one likes
another's horse, he pays a cunning stable-boy six or seven thalers to
procure it for him; then it is sent away for five or six weeks that it
may be forgotten; the tail, mane, and other marks are changed, and it
is brought back to the camp. This was done in the Imperial camp at
Halle by a German nobleman, who commissioned a boy to steal a Spanish
steed for him, and having kept him for a few weeks at his home,
thinking the rumour of it had died away, he had him brought back to the
camp. Now it happened that about eight or more squadrons of German
horse, were stationed in a beautiful meadow delightfully situated on
the Saale; but the Spaniards were encamped on the heights round the
castle. The stolen steed towards evening was taken to the river to
drink; a Spanish boy recognizing it said, 'This belongs to my master, I
will be off with it.' The German boy would not let him go; three or
four German horsemen came to his assistance, ten or twelve to the
Spaniard, then twenty or thirty to the German; thus both sides
continued increasing, and at last they began to fire. The Spaniards
being on the heights, had greatly the advantage over the Germans who
were encamped below them; and shooting through their tents, they killed
some of the noblemen who were sitting at table: the Germans on their
side did not spare the Spaniards. The Emperor sent out a Spanish lord
who was riding a splendid charger, and was adorned with glittering
golden chains, to pacify the German knights, and to quiet the uproar;
upon which the Germans screamed out, 'Shoot down the Spanish
miscreant!' When therefore he came on to the bridge to cross the Saale,
his horse was killed under him, and he of the golden chains falling
into the river, was drowned. Then the Emperor sent out to them King
Ferdinand's son, the Archduke Maximilian, afterwards Roman Emperor,
thinking that they would undoubtedly listen to him and be appeased; but
they screamed all the same, 'Beat the Spanish miscreant!' whereupon one
struck him on the right arm, and I saw how for some weeks after he
carried his arm in a black sling. At last, the Emperor himself came
out, and said, 'Dear Germans, I know you are not guilty; be satisfied;
I will repair the damage you have suffered; and by my Imperial honour,
tomorrow at daybreak I will have the Spaniards hung before your eyes.'
Thus the uproar was quieted. The following day the Emperor caused an
examination and valuation to be made of the damage done in both the
German and Spanish camps; and as it appeared that only eighteen German
squires and servants, together with seventeen horses, had been killed,
whilst the Spaniards had lost seventy men, the Emperor sent word to the
German knights that His Majesty would replace the value of their
horses, and would not be disinclined to fulfil his promise of the day
before, of hanging the Spaniards; but the Germans would themselves see
now that the Spaniards had suffered fourfold, and that thus they had
been sufficiently revenged; the Emperor therefore hoped, and had
graciously decided, that the Germans should be satisfied and contented.

"On the evening of the 18th of June, the two Electors, Maurice of
Saxony, and Brandenburg, took the Landgrave Philip of Hesse between
them to Halle. On the following day, about six o'clock in the evening,
he, together with his chancellor who was kneeling beside him,
prostrated himself in the great hall before the Emperor, in the
presence of many lords, electors, princes, foreign potentates,
ambassadors, counts, colonels, generals, and a large number of
spectators, as many as the room could hold, and as many as could see
through the window from without. But when the chancellor most humbly
craved pardon, the Landgrave, who was a satirical gentleman, knelt, but
laughed deridingly. Then the Emperor pointed his finger at him and said
with an angry look, 'Truly I will teach you to laugh;' which indeed was
afterwards done.

"The Emperor proceeded from Halle to Naumburg, and remained there three
days. When the Imperial army was assembled before Naumburg, and his
Imperial Majesty was waiting before the gate, he wore a black velvet
hat and a black mantle bordered with velvet two inches wide, but a
shower of rain coming on, he sent into the city for a gray felt hat and
cloak; meanwhile he turned his cloak, and holding his hat under it,
exposed his bare head to the rain. Poor man! he who had tons of gold to
spend, would rather expose his bare head to the wet than allow his
cloak to be spoilt by the rain. The Spaniards always took the Landgrave
a day's march before the Emperor; they were very disorderly and ill
conducted, for they left their dead lying on the road which the Emperor
had to pass, and behaved shamefully to men, women, and children.

"On the 1st of July he arrived at Bamberg. The Emperor made his
entrance with a great concourse of people about midday; he was mounted
on a little horse. In the suburb there was a street turning off to the
right, and in the corner house was lodged the imprisoned Elector of
Saxony, so that on one side he could look out into the fields, and on
the other into the city. He was standing above at the window, to watch
the Imperial procession; and when the Emperor approached the corner, he
bowed lowly before him: the Emperor kept his eyes fixed on him as long
as he could see him, and laughed deridingly.

"On the 3rd of July the Emperor fixed the 1st of September for the Diet
to be held at Augsburg. The Spaniards carried away from the bishopric
of Bamberg upwards of four hundred women, maidens, and maidservants to
Nuremberg. From thence they sent them home again; the parents,
husbands, and brothers had followed them to Nuremberg; fathers seeking
their daughters, husbands their wives, and brothers their sisters, and
there each one found his own again. Was not that a wicked nation? thus
to act when war was over, in a friend's country, and in the presence of
the Imperial Majesty, who nevertheless keeps very strict rule. Every
evening where his tent was erected, he caused a gallows to be raised,
and had them hung unsparingly; yet even that was of no avail.

"When he left Nuremberg, the Duke of Leignitz, who usually passed his
nights in drunken revelry, for once rose early and rode to the
Emperor's lodging, where he arrived at six o'clock, but found that the
Emperor had already been gone two hours. The duke was too much ashamed
to follow; but sent two of his councillors to Augsburg, and returned to
his own country, where he continued his disorderly life. Once when he
was very tipsy he commanded the councillors, at the peril of their
lives, to put him into a tower and feed him with bread and water; and
if they disobeyed him, he would have their heads off. They took him to
a tower wherein there were already prisoners; he was let down into the
hole where they were, and the keeper received orders not to let him
out, and to feed him with nothing but bread and water. When he had
outslept his drunkenness he roused himself, and began to talk with the
prisoners, and called to the gaoler to set him free. The man told him
it was strictly forbidden; but he made it known to the councillors, who
temporized till the third day. The duke meanwhile did not desist from
ordering the gaoler to beg the councillors to give in and release him.
Then they went to him in the prison, and heard him begging and
entreating; but they told him what he had commanded them, on pain of
having their heads cut off, and they knew that he would not trifle with
them, and therefore dared not let him out. But as he promised by
everything that was high and holy not to injure them, they released

"He continued his mad wild life until he ruined his people and country
and his own health. He died, leaving his wife, who was a Duchess of
Mecklenburg, and their children in the greatest poverty. His widow
complained to the city councils that she was in great need, and knew
not what to do, nor how to bring up her sons according to their
position; and begged that they would assist her. So the council of
Stralsund sent her some thalers by a special messenger.

"At the end of July, his Imperial Majesty arrived with the whole army
at Augsburg; he had left the Landgrave with a troop of Spaniards at
Donauwörth, but had brought the captive Elector along with him to
Augsburg, and had quartered him in the house of Welser, in the wine
market; it was separated from the Emperor's palace by two houses and a
little street, and was close to our inn. The Emperor had a way made
through the two houses, and a bridge made over the little street, so
that he could pass from his rooms into those of the Elector. The latter
kept house himself, and had his chancellor Minkwitz and his own
attendants with him, so that no Spaniards need enter either his
sitting, or his sleeping rooms. The Duke of Alva and other great lords
of the Imperial court had free access to and held friendly intercourse
with him, and enlivened him by their society. In the courtyard of the
Elector's dwelling, which was built and furnished in princely style,
there was a circus, where they threw the spear; he was also allowed to
ride to any of the places of amusement and ornamental gardens, of which
there were many at Augsburg; and because from his youth he had always
taken delight in fencing, and had been an adept at it when younger and
more active, fencing-schools were erected for his pleasure; but the
Spanish soldiers guarded him. Besides this, he was allowed to read
books and so forth up to the end of the Diet, when he refused to accept
the interim. But with the Landgrave at Donauwörth it did not fare so
well; the Spaniards were all day long in his rooms. When he was at his
window looking into the square, one or two Spaniards were always beside
him, stretching out their necks as far as his. Armed Spaniards lay all
night in his room, and when the watch was changed, and the new one came
in with drums and fifes, those who had kept guard half the night
uncovered the bed and said, 'See there, we deliver him to you;
henceforth you must guard him.'

"Methinks that this was indeed keeping the promise made at Halle:
'Truly I will teach you to laugh.' His Imperial Majesty as soon as he
arrived at Augsburg, caused a gallows to be erected in the middle of
the city close to the Town Hall, in order to create terror, and near it
also a platform on which the bowstring was administered; and directly
opposite another, about the height of a middle-sized man, whereon
people were broken on the wheel, beheaded, strangled, quartered, and
the like.

"It was truly a warlike Diet, for there were already in the garrison
ten companies of _Landsknechte_, besides the Spanish and German troops
which the Emperor brought with him to Augsburg, who were encamped in
the country round the city. But it was also a notable and stately Diet,
for the Emperor and King were there, all the Electors in person, with
large bodies of followers; the Elector of Brandenburg with his wife,
the Cardinal of Trent, Duke Heinrich of Brunswick with his two sons
Carl Victor and Philip, Margrave Albrecht of Culmbach, Duke Wolfgang,
Palatine of the Rhine, Duke Augustus of Saxony, Duke Albrecht of
Bavaria, &c., Frau Maria, the Emperor's sister, and the daughter of his
sister, the widow of Lorraine; the wives of the Margrave and of the
Bavarian Duke; item; ambassadors of foreign potentates; besides these
many bishops and abbots, numberless counts, barons, citizens of the
Imperial cities, illustrious envoys, and excellent men. I must not
forget Michael the Jew, who considered himself a great man, and rode
through the streets on a well-caparisoned horse, splendidly attired,
his neck covered with gold chains. He was always surrounded by ten or
twelve of his servants, all Jews, accoutred as troopers. He was a
distinguished-looking man, and it is said that his true father was a
Count von Rheinfelden. The hereditary Marshal of Pappenheim, an old
gentleman who could not see very distinctly, not only took off his hat,
but also bent his knee to him, as he would to one greater than himself.
When he found afterwards that it was Michael, he repented that he had
shown such honour to a Jew, and exclaimed, 'May God confound thee, thou
old rogue of a Jew.'

"Splendid banquets were held at the Diet, and there were dances almost
every evening, both foreign and German. King Ferdinand especially was
seldom without guests; they were always treated magnificently, with all
kinds of pastimes and splendid dances. He had exceedingly fine music,
not only instrumental, but also singing. Besides other diversions, he
had always behind him a witty fool, whose powers he knew how to bring
out, and to meet his lively sallies with a retort, his tongue was never
still. I saw one evening at his house a dance, in which a Spanish
gentleman, attired in a long closed robe, reaching to the ground, so
that one could not see his feet, led out a young lady, and danced with
her an _Algarde_ or _Passionesa_ (as they call it, I know nothing about
it); he sprang about so wonderfully, and she likewise, and they went so
well together, that it was a pleasure to see them. His brother, the
Emperor of Rome, on the contrary, gave no banquets, and did not even
entertain his own attendants; when they accompanied him from the church
to the chamber in which he dined, giving each of them his hand, he
dismissed them, and placed himself alone at table. Neither did he talk;
only once when he came out of the church into his chamber, he looked
round, and not seeing Carlowitz,[46] he said to Duke Maurice, '_Ubi est
noster Carlovitius?_' and when the latter answered, 'Most Gracious
Emperor, he is somewhat unwell,' he called out to his doctor in
Flemish, 'Vesali, you must go to Carlowitz; he is said to be somewhat
unwell; see if you cannot restore him.' I have often seen the Emperor
dine during the Diet, but he never invited his brother, King Ferdinand,
to dine with him. The dinner was brought up by the young princes and
counts, and there were always four courses, each consisting of six
dishes, which were placed on the table before him, and the covers
removed one by one; he shook his head at those which he did not desire,
nodded when he wished to partake of one, and drew the dish towards him.
The fine pies, game, and well-dressed dainties were sent away, and he
would keep a roast pig, and calf's head, and suchlike: he did not allow
it to be cut for him, nor did he often himself use the knife, except to
cut many small pieces of bread as large as he could put into his mouth
with each bit of meat. He then loosened with his knife, the corner
which he liked best of the dish he wished to eat; he broke it with his
fingers, held the dish under his chin, and ate in this primitive manner
so neatly and cleanly that it was a pleasure to see him. When he wished
to drink--and he only drank thrice during his meal--he nodded to his
physicians, who were standing before the table; they went forthwith to
the treasury, where were kept two silver bottles and a crystal cup
which held about a pint and a half, and filled the glass out of the two
bottles; this he drank clean off, so that not a drop remained therein,
and he had to take breath two or three times before he withdrew it from
his mouth. He never spoke whilst at table, and though there were fools
standing behind him, who cut all kinds of jokes, he did not heed them;
at the utmost he twisted his mouth into a half-smile if they said
something very amusing. He did not care that many should stand round to
see an Emperor eating. He had a splendid choir, as well as instrumental
music, which performed in the churches but never in his own rooms. The
dinner did not last an hour; then everything was removed, and seats and
tables put away, so that nothing remained but the four walls, hung on
all sides with costly tapestry. When grace had been said before him,
they handed him a little quill for a toothpick; then he washed himself
and placed himself in a corner of the chamber at the window, and any
one might come, and either present a written petition or speak
themselves, and he told them on the spot where they might obtain an

"There were fine doings also amongst the princes and lords, both
spiritual and temporal. I was once looking on when the Margrave
Albrecht was drinking and playing at the _Peilketafel_,[47] with other
young princes and young bishops who were not born princes; they did not
give each other their titles, but called mockingly, 'Shoot away,
priest; what does it matter? you will never hit the mark;' and the
bishop replied after an equally vulgar fashion. Young princes lay upon
the ground with princesses and countesses, for they did not sit upon
benches or seats, but costly carpets were spread about the rooms,
whereon they could sit and stretch themselves comfortably. They
squandered upon extravagant banqueting, not only what was in their
exchequers and what they had brought to the Diet, which amounted to
many thousand thalers, but they were obliged, with great difficulty and
vexation and irreparable loss, to borrow enough to enable them to leave
Augsburg with becoming style. The subjects of certain princes,
particularly of the Duke of Bavaria, whose wife was daughter of the
King of Rome, collected some thousand gulden only for play, which they
made a present of to their lords, who lost it all.

"I often addressed petitions to the Bishop of Arras, Doctor Marquardt,
and other councillors; but as I did not of my own accord find out what
was usual to be done to gain favour in courts and great cities and with
lords, Doctor John Marquardt cleverly gave me to understand that it
would give him particular pleasure to possess a pretty little horse,
whereon he might ride to the council, as was customary at the Imperial
court; I wrote therefore to Pomerania, and they sent me a fine horse,
with an order to have suitable riding gear made for it, and then to
present it to the doctor, together with three large Portuguese pieces
of gold, which the doctor gladly accepted without any hesitation. A
great treasure of silver, gold, money, and money's worth of costly and
rare goods, was presented to Herr von Granvella, whereby the Electors,
princes, and cities thought to obtain his favour with his Imperial
Majesty. He carried it on large waggons and strong mules along with him
on his return home, and when he was asked what was on the waggons and
mules, he answered, '_Peccata Germaniæ_.'

"At the earnest entreaties and supplications of the Electors of Saxony
and Brandenburg, the Emperor fixed a day in December to decide the
matter concerning the Landgrave of Hesse. Now the Elector Duke Maurice
was intriguing with the Duchess of Bavaria, and on the Sunday morning
before the Monday on which the long-desired decision was to be given,
he placed himself in a sledge, for it had frozen hard, and there was
snow on the roads. Carlowitz came running to him from the Chancellery,
and said, 'Whither will your Electoral Grace drive?' The Elector
answered: 'I drive to Munich.' I was standing outside the gate, so that
I and others who were near could hear all that passed. Carlowitz then
said: 'Has your Electoral Grace forgotten that to-morrow his Imperial
Majesty's decision will be given in the business so important to your
Electoral Grace and to the Elector of Brandenburg?' The Elector
replied: 'I will drive to Munich.' Then Carlowitz answered: 'You owe it
to me that you have become an Elector of note, but you have conducted
yourself so frivolously at this Diet, that you have brought on yourself
the contempt of the distinguished persons of all nations, and of their
Imperial and Royal Majesties.' As he was saying this, Duke Maurice
touched his horses with the whip, and drove out of the gate. Carlowitz
called out to him loudly: 'Go your way in the devil's name, and may God
confound you in your driving and all else.' When the Elector returned
from Munich, Carlowitz was on the point of starting for Leipzig, as he
said the new year's fair was at hand, and he must needs be there, or he
would lose some thousand thalers; so the Elector, wishing to retain
him, was obliged to present him with that amount. Neither of the
Electors appeared on the appointed day before his Imperial Majesty, nor
was a decision come to on the matter of the imprisoned Landgrave. For
as the drive to Munich, and the conversation betwixt Duke Maurice and
Carlowitz, which had been held in open day in the streets, and heard by
many, was not concealed from his Imperial Majesty, he considered the
many entreaties of this prince more as mockery than earnest, and no
further day was fixed upon to hear the cause.

"The German Landsknechte of the garrison at Augsburg had not been paid
for some months, and it was reported that the fine upon the Landgrave
and the cities, out of which they were to have been paid, had been
collected, but that the Duke of Alva had lost it at play with the
imprisoned Landgrave, so they were kept long without their pay: then
some of them fell upon the ensigns' quarters, seized flags, and marched
thus with colours flying in battle order to the wine market. When the
standard bearers were marching along in good order, an arrogant
Spaniard, desirous of gaining honour, of deserving the favour of his
Imperial Majesty, and of immortalizing his name, sprang upon the
ensign, and tore the flag out of his hands. The ensign was followed by
three men-at-arms, one of them struck this wretch in two like a carrot,
according to the saying: 'He who seeks danger perishes therein.' When
the Landsknechte reached the wine market there was a great running to
and fro of the Spanish soldiers, who beset all the streets leading to
the wine market, and carried off the imprisoned Elector to the
Emperor's palace, for they feared he might be taken away: all the
inhabitants, especially merchants and tradesmen, who had collected
costly goods, silk stuffs, silver and gold, pearls and precious stones
on the occasion of the Diet, were greatly afraid lest the city should
be plundered, which might well have happened had the Landsknechte
sought to pay themselves. There arose therefore wild cries, uproar, and
running about; every one armed himself in earnest, citizens and
strangers kept to their houses and apartments arquebuse in hand and
their guns ready to fire, and every one did what he could for the
protection of his own, so that the Diet might indeed have become an
armed one.

"But the Emperor sent to the Landsknechte to inquire what they wanted,
and they, holding their guns in the left hand, and in the right,
burning matches close to the touchhole, answered, 'Either money or
blood?' Then the Emperor sent them word that they were to rest
satisfied, as they should certainly be paid the next day. But they
would not withdraw without the assurance that they would not be
punished for having assembled in front of the Emperor's lodging. This
the Emperor promised, so they withdrew, were paid the next day, and
dismissed. But what happened? Some spies were sent out to mingle
unperceived and travel for two or three days with the leaders of the
Landsknechte, to find out whether they spoke ill or mockingly of his
Imperial Majesty; if so, they were to call assistance and bring the men
back prisoners to Augsburg. The second or third evening the
Landsknechte had a jovial bout at an inn, for they had money in their
pockets, and thought themselves as safe as if they were in the land of
Prester John, and had no idea that there were traitors sitting with
them: then they spoke of the Emperor in this fashion: 'Yes indeed! one
ought to allow this Charles of Ghent to take soldiers and not to pay
them! But we would have taught him better, and have paid him for it;
may God confound him.' After these words they were seized, taken back
to Augsburg, and hanged at Berlach on the gallows, and a tiny little
flag stuck on the breast of each."--So far Sastrow.

By his account of the revolt of the German Landsknechte it may be seen
how insecure was then the highest earthly power. A few years later the
new Elector, Maurice of Saxony, was able in a moment by a sudden
expedition to overpower the experienced master of foreign politics.
Neither the Emperor nor any other prince maintained a large standing
army; even the Imperial power stood on a rotten foundation, and the
Emperor Charles was in a difficult position with respect to the German
soldiery. However easy was the conscience of the Landsknechte, and
however ready they were to sell themselves for money, they were yet not
entirely without political tendencies. Most of them were well disposed
towards the Protestants, and even those who had helped to overthrow
their comrades of the Saxon service at the battle of Mühlberg,
discovered with vexation after the combat, that they had given a deadly
blow to the Protestant cause. The memory of Luther was dear to them;
but far deeper lay their hatred for the Spanish soldiers of Charles,
that faithful invincible infantry who had bled for their king on the
battle-fields of half Europe. The Emperor had himself excited the civil
war in Germany; a few years later, the German soldiers marched
defiantly against his anointed head. Most of the German princes, even
the enemies of the Ernestine and Hesse, felt like these soldiers. The
great Emperor had made an irreparable rent in the loose tissue of the
German empire; for this had been no exercise of Imperial power, as once
against the mad Würtemberger; but it was a civil war in its broadest
acceptation; it was a personal struggle of the Hapsburger against the
German princes. Henceforth the German sovereigns knew what they had to
expect from their Emperor: the last respect for order and duty to the
Empire vanished, and each had cause to look after his own interests.
The only safety against the fearful power of the Hapsburger was to be
found in alliance with foreign sovereigns. More bold became the
intercourse with France, and whoever opposed the Emperor looked there
for help. Maurice of Saxony and Albrecht of Brandenburg rose against
the Emperor in alliance with France. The German general, Schärtlin, who
was in the French pay, assisted in depriving Germany of Metz, Toul, and
Verdun. The younger princes of Germany went to the courts of the
Valois, the Guises, and the Bourbon, to acquire refinement and obtain
money and rank in the army; and this was done not only by the
Protestant princes, but also by the Roman Catholics and even
ecclesiastical Electors. The overpowering influence of France on the
fate of the Fatherland dates not from the time of Richelieu, but from
the wars of Charles V. The real disruption of the German empire dated
from the battle of Mühlberg and the Diet of Augsburg; and however
objectionable the alliance of these German princes with a foreign power
may appear to us, it must not be forgotten, that it was owing to the
un-German policy of the Imperial house. The destroyer of German
self-dependence, the great Emperor, met with his punishment almost
immediately. A very different man from the scrupulous and irresolute
John Frederic, had received the electoral crown from Charles; his own
disciple in self-seeking policy, with an overbearing character, without
consideration, and secret in his resolves, like the Emperor himself. So
Charles reaped what he had sown: the Landsknechte of Maurice drove him
even to the last gorges of the Alps. The naked egotism of the Wettiner
triumphed over the reckless policy of the great Hapsburger. What the
lord of half Europe had striven for all his life, slipped out of his
hands. Germany was not to be governed in his way; he had not been able
to guide the great movement of the German mind, nor yet could he
entirely destroy it. He had not succeeded in making the German princes
serviceable to his house, nor had he been able to destroy their power.
The far-seeing cautious player threw up his game, and quietly, as was
his wont, laid down the cards. He himself, with a heavy heart, broke in
two the power of his house.

This did not render the political position of Germany more hopeful. The
life of Maurice also passed away like a meteor, and his wild associate
Albrecht of Brandenburg died an early and miserable death.

Then followed the feuds of Grumbach and Cologne, the disputes of
Jülich, and the disorders of Bohemia; one quarrel more contemptible
than the other, and the leaders of both parties equally incapable. The
end was the Thirty years' war.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                           A BURGHER FAMILY.

Our narrative descends from the highest sphere of German life to the
lower circles, in the individual families of which the characteristic
life of the time may be traced. A series of examples shall lead us from
the hardships of the peasant to the life of the privileged classes.

From all times the peasantry have been the great source, from which
fresh family vigour has ascended into the guilds of the cities and the
closets of the learned. Therefore the basis of the prosperity of a
people lies in the simple occupations of the peasant, in that human
labour in which mind and body, work and rest, joy and sorrow, are
regulated by Nature herself; whenever such labour is repressed,
limited, and fettered, the whole nation becomes diseased. The
destruction of the free peasant has more than once undermined the
political existence of states, as for example in Poland; and indeed it
caused the deadly weakness of the great Roman empire and the decay of
the ancient world. The more abundantly and freely fresh vigour ascends
from the lower strata into the higher circles, the more powerful and
energetic will be the political life of the nation. And again, the less
declining families are prevented, by artificial supports, from falling
into the great mass of the people, the more rapid and vigorous will be
the ascent of those who are struggling upwards.

It was by favouring in a remarkable degree the rise of families out of
this great source of national vigour, that the Reformation revived the
youth of the nation. The abolition of enforced celibacy was one of the
greatest steps towards social progress; it secures still the ascendency
of the Protestant over the Roman Catholic districts. Up to the time of
Luther, the greatest portion of the German popular strength which arose
from the cottage of the labourer, was destined to wither beneath the
consecrating oil. It is true the marriage of priests had never entirely
ceased during the middle ages. There was even a cardinal who was
regularly married; his wife established herself with him, in spite of
the Pope and College of Cardinals, and was able, when weeping by the
side of the corpse, to relate to the sympathizing Romans the astounding
fact that her husband had been always true to her. And in Germany, the
housekeepers of the priests, the _Papemeiers_ of Reineke Fuchs, formed
a numerous and not unpretending class. But the country priests were
obliged to buy tolerance for such unions from the bishop and _curie_.
But however the higher ecclesiastical authorities may have favoured
such a system, it was considered as immoral by conscientious pastors,
and some even had scruples as to the propriety of their celebrating the
mass. But the people looked with hatred and scorn on these profligate
unions, and one of the greatest evils was, that the children remained
as long as they lived under the curse of their birth; hardly any branch
of trade was open to them; even the guilds of artisans would not
receive them. They became either working men or vagrants. Yet such
lasting unions of the Roman Catholic priests were generally, in the
time of Luther, a benefit to their parishes, for we see in hundreds of
pamphlets how recklessly the roving sensuality of the priests destroyed
the family life of their parishes. With the Protestants, on the
contrary, the ecclesiastical order became the medium by which the
countryman rose to a higher sphere of activity. By his village life and
little farm, the pastor became closely united with the peasantry, and
was at the same time the preserver of the highest education of those
centuries. So important has been the influence of the Protestant clergy
on the intellectual development of Germany, that the ancestors, even to
the third and fourth generation, of most of the great poets, artists,
and learned men, and the intellectual members of the German
bureaucracy, lived in a Protestant parsonage.

What follows will portray the life of a family which at the end of the
fifteenth century migrated from the village to the city, and in the
third generation became the ruling family in a great commercial town.
It may be seen from this narrative, that though family life was not
then deficient in hearty and naive cheerfulness, yet the conception of
life and duty was rough, and the amount of benevolence small, though
family feeling was strong.

United with violence and robbery, we find the commencement of a very
modern system of police; the first prosecutions on account of offences
of the press.

We are to a certain extent aware that three hundred years ago, the life
of individuals was of less value than now; but we shall yet learn with
astonishment from the old narrative, how frequently deeds of violence
and blood disturbed the peace of households. We find that in a quiet
burgher family the grandfather was the victim of premeditated murder;
the father killed another in self-defence, and the son was attacked on
the public road by highwaymen, one of whom he killed, but was mortally
wounded by the other. Lastly, it will interest many to observe how the
great theologian who then divided Christendom into two camps, exercised
an influence as family counsellor even on the shores of the Baltic, and
how by his word he brought the souls of strangers to obedience and

The following communications are again taken from the comprehensive
autobiography of Bartholomäus Sastrow, Burgomaster of Stralsund. His
own life was unusually varied and rich in experiences. He was sent,
when a young man, with his elder brother to the Imperial Court of
Justice at Spire, to manage his father's lawsuit and to seek a
livelihood for himself. He was first in the service of lawyers, then of
one of the commanders of the Order of St. John, and afterwards found
his way to Italy, in order to wrest from the hands of the Romish
ecclesiastics the heritage of his elder brother, who had been crowned
with laurels and ennobled by the Emperor as an improvisatore in Latin
poetry, and who afterwards, on account of an unfortunate love affair,
had gone with a broken heart to Italy and died in the service of a

The younger brother returned home from Italy in the midst of the
confusion of the Smalkaldic war, entered into the service of the
Pomeranian dukes, who sent him as political agent to the Imperial camp,
and solicitor to the supreme court of judicature of the Diet of
Augsburg. He then settled himself in Greifswald, and gained, as an
expert notary, practice and wealth in Pomerania, removed to Stralsund,
became Burgomaster there, and died at an advanced age in great repute
as a skilful, cunning, hot-headed, and probably often hard and partial
man. Thus he begins his narrative:--

"About the year 1488, my father, the son of Hans Sastrow, was born at
Ranzin at the sign of the Kruge, which lies near the churchyard towards
Anklam, and belongs to the _Junker_ Osten zu Quilow. Now this Hans
Sastrow by far surpassed the _Junker_ Horne, who also dwelt at Ranzin,
in wealth, comeliness, strength, and understanding, so that even before
his marriage he could compete with them in the extent of their land.
Whereat the Hornes were sore vexed, and endeavoured to the utmost to
work him shame, injury, and damage, and even to endanger his health and
life. When he found that the enmity of the Hornes daily increased, he
resolved to take himself and his family out of danger; and about the
year 1487, he, settling his affairs in a friendly manner with his
Junker, the old Hans Osten zu Quilow obtained the right of citizen at
Greifswald, and there bought the corner house of Fleischhauerstrasse,
opposite to Herr Brand Hartmann, and gradually conveyed his property
from Ranzin to this new house. So that a year before my father's birth,
he gave up his vassalage to the Ostens, and entered the burgher class.

"See now what happened! Mark well this atrocious murderous deed! In the
year 1494 there was a christening feast at Gribow, which lies not far
from Ranzin, to the right in going from Greifswald, and there one of
the Hornes had a property. To this same christening feast my
grandfather, Hans Sastrow, being invited as nearest relation, led by
the hand his little son, my father, then about seven years old, along
the road passing the church.

"The Hornes of Ranzin did not wish to lose this opportunity of giving
him a parting valediction; and of putting in action what they had
planned in their hearts for many years. So they rode to Gribow as if
they wished to visit their cousin there; and in order to spy out the
best opportunity, went to the christening feast, and placed themselves
at the table where my grandfather sat, for they had fallen so low that
they did not despise peasant fare and society. When the Hornes, late in
the afternoon, were very drunk, they all got up and staggered to the
stables. They fancied themselves alone; but one of my grandfather's
relations standing in the corner of the stable, heard all that they
were proposing to do: they were to hasten to their horses so soon as
they should perceive that my grandfather was about to depart, to waylay
him and to beat him and his little son to death.

"The man came to my grandfather and told him what he had heard in the
stable, and counselled him to start and go home while it was yet day.
This my grandfather agreed to; he got up, took his little son, my
father, by the hand, and proceeded towards Ranzin. But when he came to
the coppice on the moor, which was overgrown with bushes and brambles,
and about half way between Ranzin and Gribow, the murderous villains
intercepted his path, trampled him down under their horses' hoofs, and
wounded him so badly that they thought he was dead. They were however
not satisfied therewith, but dragged him to a great stone, which even
now lies on the moor, chopped off his right hand, and so left him for
dead. But the boy, my father, had in the mean while crept along the
moor and hidden himself in some bushes on a grass hill, so that they
could not come near him with their horses, nor find him in the bushes,
as it began to be dark.

"The other peasants had ridden after the Hornes, to see what they had
done: they found the wounded man thus mangled, and fetched the boy from
the moor: one of these ran to Ranzin and brought quickly a cart and
horses, on which they placed the wounded man, who showed no signs of
life, except that on their arrival at Ranzin he gave a last gasp and

"The friends of the orphan boy, my father, sold the new house and
turned everything into money, so that they amassed altogether about two
thousand gulden. Few of the nobles at that period allowed their
subjects to possess so much. These friends did their best by the boy,
had him taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and sent him to
Antwerp, and afterwards to Amsterdam, that he might be fitted to become
a merchant. When, having attained a right age, he returned home and
took possession of his property, he bought at the corner of the high
street and Hundstrasse, directly opposite to the church of St.
Nicholas, two houses and two shops. One of the former he turned into a
dwelling-house, the other into a brewhouse, and one of the shops into a
gateway, whereon he expended much cost and labour. Now as people were
well pleased with his comely person, and he had good hopes of having a
sufficient maintenance, my mother's guardian and nearest relations
promised her to him in marriage.

"My mother was the daughter of Bartholomäus Smiterlow, the brother of
the Herr Bürgermeister Nicholaus Smiterlow; she was a truly pretty
woman, small and delicately formed, amiable and lively, free from
pride, neat and domestic, and to the end of her life devout and
God-fearing. In the year 1514 my parents were married, and in 1515 the
good God gave them a son, whom they called after my paternal
grandfather Johannes. In 1517 was born my sister Anne, the relict of
Peter Frubos, Burgomaster of Greifswald. In 1520 I came into the world,
and was named after my maternal grandfather, Bartholomäus.

"One of my five younger sisters, Catherine, was an excellent, amiable,
lovely, faithful, and pious maiden. When my brother Johannes came home
from Wittenberg, where he was a student, she bade him tell her how one
could say in Latin 'That is truly a beautiful maiden;' he said
'_Profecto formosa puella._' She asked further how could one say
'rather so:' he replied, '_sic satis_.' Some time after, three
students, sons of gentlemen, came from Wittenberg to see the town; they
had been recommended by Christian Smiterlow to the hospitality of his
father, the burgomaster Herr Nicolaus Smiterlow, who was desirous to
entertain them well, and to have good society for them. As he had three
grown-up daughters, my sister Catherine was invited, besides other
guests. The students exchanged all kinds of jokes with the maidens, and
also said to one another in Latin what it would not have been seemly to
say before maidens in German, as young fellows are wont to do. At last
one said to the other '_Profecto formosa puella_;' whereupon my sister
answered '_sic satis_;' then were they much afraid, fancying that she
had also understood their former amatory talk. In the year 1544 she
made a most unfortunate marriage with Christoph Meier, a coarse man,
who wasted, idled away, and dissipated all that he had, even what he
had received with my sister.

"My mother accustomed her daughters from their youth up, to suitable
household work. Once when my sister Gertrude, who was about five years
old, was sitting spinning at her distaff--for spinning-wheels were not
then in use--my brother Johannes told her that his Imperial Majesty had
summoned a Diet, where the Emperor, Kings, Electors, princes, counts,
and great lords would be assembled: she inquired what they would do
there, and he answered, 'That they would determine and decree what was
to be done in the world.' Then the little maiden at the distaff gave a
deep sigh, and said dolefully: 'Oh good God! if they would only decree
that such little children should not spin.' This sister, together with
my mother and two other sisters, Magdalen and Catherine, died in peace
in the year '49, when the plague was raging: my mother went first, and
as my sisters were weeping bitterly, she said to them when dying: 'Why
do you weep? pray rather that God would in his mercy shorten my pain.'
Some days after, my youngest sister Gertrude died: although my eldest
unmarried sister Magdalen was herself nigh unto death, she rose from
her bed, and laid out not only Gertrude's shroud and winding-sheet, but
her own also, and desired that when Gertrude was buried, the grave
should be left open, being only lightly covered with earth, that she
might be laid next to her; she then returned to her bed, and lived till
the next day after Gertrude was buried: so she died, the tallest and
strongest of all my sisters, an excellent, clever, and industrious
housekeeper. This was written to me by my sister Catherine two days
before her own death, who added, that it was even so with herself, that
she was about to follow her mother and sisters, and that she did yearn
for it, and she did admonish me not to grieve thereat.

"Now my parents when they were first married were comfortably
established; their buildings were finished, they were prosperous, and
possessed plenty of feathers, wool, honey, butter, and corn; they had
their stately mill and brewery; when suddenly all this happiness
changed into sorrow and misfortune: for in the same year 1523, George
Hartmann, the son-in-law of Doctor Stoientin,[48] bought of my father a
quarter of butter, and they came to angry words thereupon. Hartmann,
who was going to carry a sword to Herr Peter Korchschwantz, went on his
way to complain to his mother-in-law: she, who was haughty and very
rich, had married a doctor, councillor to the prince, and looked down
upon smaller people; she put an axe into his hand with these words:
'See, I give you a trifle, go to the market and buy yourself a heart.'
He then met my father, who was without arms, and had not even his
bread-knife with him, as he was going to have a pot of honey weighed at
the weighing-place in the streets where the locksmiths lived. Hartmann,
armed with sword and axe, fell upon him; my father springing into the
house of one of the smiths, seized a spit; the boys tore it away from
him, and also prevented him from using the ladder which was standing
near the gallery; but he tore from the wall a hunting-spear, and
running out into the street with it, called out: 'Where is he who wants
to take my life?' thereupon Hartmann sprang out of the adjoining
smith's house, having added to his former weapons a hammer from the
anvil, which he threw at my father, and though he parried the blow with
the spear, yet the hammer glided along the spear and hit him on the
breast, so that he spit blood for some days. Immediately after,
Hartmann struck him with the axe on the shoulder; having now hit him
with both hammer and axe, and fancying he had the best of it, he
unsheathed his sword, and rushing at my father, ran on the spear, which
went into his body up to the handle, so that he fell. This is the true
account of this lamentable story; I know well that the adversaries
maintain that my father stabbed Hartmann when he was hiding himself
behind the stove in the smith's room, but it is a mere fable.

"My father hastened straight to the monastery of the Black Monks, with
whom he was acquainted, and they took him into the church, up under the
vaulted roof. Doctor Stoientin with many assistants and servants
searched every corner of the monastery, and came also into the church.
My father, thinking they saw him, was on the point of speaking out and
entreating that they would spare him, as he was innocent and had only
acted in self-defence; but the merciful God prevented him from
speaking, and shut the eyes of his adversaries so that they could not
see him.

"In the night the monks let him down over the wall, so that he
could walk along the dyke to the village of Neukirchen. There my
step-grandfather arranged that my father should go to Stralsund, in a
cart that he had ordered from Leitz, concealed among some sacks of
barley and fodder. Stoientin met the peasant in the night, and asked
him where he was going. 'To Stralsund,' he said. He kicked at the sacks
and inquired what load he was carrying. The other replied: 'Barley and
fodder.' He then asked whether the peasant had not seen some one riding
or running; the latter answered: 'He had seen one riding hastily
towards the village of Horst, who had appeared to him like Sastrow from
Greifswald; and he had been astonished at his riding so hastily in the
night.' So Doctor Stoientin left the peasant and rode to Horst; but my
father arrived at Stralsund and obtained a safe conduct from the
councillor there.

"But my father could not trust to this, as the deceased had himself
been under the safe conduct of my gracious sovereign Duke George; and
Dr. Stoientin, the councillor of his princely grace, made good avail of
it against my father; besides this, the adversaries were rich, proud,
and powerful. So he was obliged to wander about in Denmark, going also
to Lübeck, Hamburg, and elsewhere, till he conciliated the reigning
prince by a considerable sum, which he was obliged to pay in ready

"And although later, after repeated endeavours, and at the cost of much
labour and exertion on the part of my step-grandfather, my father
became reconciled with the offended party, upon the payment of
blood-money to the amount of one thousand marks, he could not remain
unmolested at Greifswald, on account of these adversaries residing
there. But it may be seen how little this blood-money prospered with
the son and heirs of the deceased, for evil and misfortune to person,
land, and property pursued both wife and children.

"Thus my mother was left in her youth without a husband, to keep house
with four uneducated children. One can well imagine how many sad and
sorrowful thoughts weighed upon her.

"Whilst my mother was dwelling in Greifswald, I went to school there,
and learnt not only to read, but also to decline, parse, and conjugate
in the Donat. On Palm-Sunday I had to sing the '_Quantus_,' having sung
the foregoing years first the lesser and then the great '_Hic

"This was a great honour to the boy, and no small pleasure to his
parents, for the most courageous scholars were always selected for it,
who were not alarmed at the great multitude of ecclesiastics as well as
laymen, and could sing the _Quantus_ with a loud and clear voice.

"In the year 1528, when my parents discovered that the Hartmann party
were not to be mollified, and would not let my father return to the
town and to his business, they desired, as is becoming an honest
couple, to bear the burden of housekeeping together, and thus my mother
must needs follow my father. Therefore my father became a citizen of
Stralsund, and bought a house there; my mother in the spring quitted
Greifswald, sold her house, and settled near the Sound. About the same
time my step-grandfather, who was then chamberlain at Greifswald, took
me to his house, that I might study there. I however studied very
little, for I preferred riding and driving with my grandfather to the
neighbouring villages, so that I made little progress in my studies.

"In the year 1529, my mother being pregnant, wished to have a scouring
and washing before her confinement, as is customary with women. Now my
parents had at this time a servant-maid who was possessed with an evil
spirit; it had hitherto not shown itself, but now, when she had to
scour the numerous kitchen utensils, and took down the kettle and
saucepan, she threw them on the ground in a dreadful way, and cried
out, with a loud voice, 'I will away!' When therefore they found the
reason of this, her mother, who dwelt in the Patinenmacher Strasse,
took her home, and she was taken several times in a Riga sledge to the
church of St. Nicholas. When the sermon was ended, the spirit was
exorcised; and it appeared from its confession, that her mother having
bought a fresh sour cheese, and placed it in the cupboard, the maiden
had gone there in her absence and eaten of the cheese. Now when the
mother saw that some one had been to the cheese, she had wished that
person possessed of the evil spirit, and ever since, he had dwelt in
the maiden. When he was then asked how he could have remained in the
maiden, as since then she had received the sacrament, he answered, 'A
rogue may lie under a bridge whilst a good man is passing over;' he had
meanwhile been under her tongue. He was not only exorcised and
expelled, but each and every one present in the church knelt down and
prayed diligently and devoutly. He however, loudly scoffed at the
exorcism, for when the preacher conjured him to go away, he said he
would depart, he must forsooth give up the field; but he demanded that
he might be allowed to take away with him sundry things, and if this
demand were refused, he would be free to remain. One of those present
having his hat on whilst praying, the evil spirit begged of the
preacher to allow him to take off this hat; he would then depart, and
carry it away with him. I feared that, had it been permitted him by
God, the hair and scalp would have gone with the hat. At last, when he
perceived that his time for vexing the maiden was passed, and that our
Lord God listened mercifully to the prayers of the believers present,
he demanded mockingly a square of glass from the window over the tower
clock, and when a pane was granted to him, it loosed itself visibly
with a great clang, and flew away. After that time nothing evil was
observed in the maiden. She got a husband in the village, and had

"I went to school, and learnt as much as my wildness would
allow me: of intelligence there was sufficient in me, as may be
observed, but steadiness there was none. In the summer I bathed with my
companions on the sea-shore; this my uncle saw from his garden behind
his barn, and told it to my father, who came in the morning with a good
rod into the room, in front of my bed, whilst I was asleep; he worked
himself up into a rage, and spoke loud in order to awake me. When I
awoke, and saw him standing before me, and the rod lying on the
next bed, I knew well what was in the wind, and began to pray and
entreat--weeping bitterly. He asked what I had done? I swore I would
never again, all my life long, bathe in the sea. 'Yes, sir,' he said
(when he called me 'sir,' I knew well that matters stood badly between
us), 'if you have bathed, then I must use the mop.' Thereupon he seized
the rod, threw my clothes over my head, and gave me my deserts. My
parents brought up their children well. My father was somewhat hasty,
and when his temper got the upper hand, he knew no moderation. Once
when he was in a rage with me,--he was standing in the stable, and I in
the doorway,--he caught hold of the pitchfork and threw it at me. I
sprang aside, but it had been thrown with such violence, that the
prongs stuck deep into one of the oaken tubs of the bathroom, and it
required great strength to draw it out. Thus the merciful God hindered
the evil designs of the devil against me and my father. But my mother,
who was exceedingly gentle and tender, sprang forward in such cases,
saying, 'Strike harder, the good-for-nothing boy has well deserved it!'
But at the same time she would lay hold of the hand in which he held
the rod, so that he might not strike too hard.

"My father's house was still very unfinished, and an outhouse was built
against it, with its entrance close to the well. A miller dwelt therein
named Lewark-Lark,--who had many naughty children that cried day and
night. At daybreak these young larks began to chirp, and continued the
whole day, so that one could neither see nor hear until my father drove
out the old larks with their young ones, pulled down the outhouse, and
set to work in earnest to finish the whole house at great cost of
labour and money. My parents received from Greifswald a considerable
amount of cash; for my mother had been obliged to turn everything into
money, so that many called him the rich man of the Vehr Strasse. But in
a few years this appeared very doubtful, for my parents had great
anxiety and loss of money, and also hindrance to the hoped-for
happiness of their children as well as other detriment.

"For there were then in Stralsund two women who might not unjustly be
called swindlers; the one was named Lubbe Kesske, the other Engeln;
they both dwelt in the Altbüsser Strasse. They bought divers kinds of
cloth from my father, which they again sold to others, but it was not
known to whom. Sometimes they paid part of the money for the cloth; but
whenever they gave a hundred gulden, they straightway bought to the
amount of two hundred or more. When, however, his claim upon them
became very large, the women only being able to pay twenty gulden, he
inquired what had become of his property; he found that his goods to
the amount of seventeen hundred and twenty-five gulden had gone to the
wife of the tailor Hermann Bruser, who had a considerable traffic in
cloth, being able to sell it cheaper in retail than other cloth
merchants; and that his eight hundred gulden had found their way to the
mother of Jacob Leweling. When my father called to account the two
women and the wife of Bruser, the latter and her husband, Hermann
Bruser, offered to pay: Bruser assured my father under his hand and
seal that at fixed terms he would make the payment. See what happened!
The first term was due at the time of the uproar of Burgomaster Herr
Nicholaus Smiterlow, and Hermann Bruser, who was one of the principal
ringleaders, thought it was now all over with my father, as well as
with the burgomaster; so he disclaimed his bond, refused payment, and
began a lawsuit with my father which lasted more than four-and-thirty
years; my father came to terms with the heirs of Bruser, who had to pay
for one and all a thousand gulden. The debt itself had amounted to
seventeen hundred and twenty-five gulden, and my father's costs to
upwards of a thousand more. Thus my father was deprived of his money
for forty years; great inconvenience accrued to both parents and
children. I thereby lost my studies and my brother, Magister Johannes,
even his life, so that one may in truth say, that Hesiod's words, 'The
half is more than the whole,' may well be applied to a lawsuit,
particularly to one at the Imperial court, so that it would be more
profitable to be satisfied with the half in the beginning than to
obtain the whole by the sentence of the Imperial court.

"During the lawsuit my brother Johannes became Magister at Wittenberg,
where he was the first among thirteen, and my parents summoned him
home. Before his departure from Wittenberg, he begged of Dr. Martin
Luther to write to my father, as the latter, on account of his lawsuit
with Hermann Bruser, had abstained for some years from the Lord's
table.[50] The letter was thus worded:--

'To the honourable and discreet Nicholaus Sastrow, burgher of
Stralsund; my kind and good friend, _Gratia et Pax_.

'Your dear son Magister Johannes has made known to me with touching
lament, my dear friend, how you have abstained from the Sacrament for
so many years, giving a scandalous example to others, and he has begged
me to exhort you to give up such a dangerous practice, as we are not
sure of life for a moment. So his filial, faithful care for you his
father has moved me to write to you, and I give you my brotherly and
Christian exhortation (such as we owe to one another in Christ) to
desist from such a practice, and to consider that the Son of God
suffered far more and forgave his crucifiers. And finally, when your
hour comes, you will have to forgive as does a thief on the gallows. If
your cause before the court lingers on, let it proceed, and wait for
your right. Such things do not prevent us from going to the Sacrament,
else we and also our princes could not attend, as the cause betwixt us
and the Papists still lingers on. Commit your cause to justice, and
meanwhile make your conscience free, and say, "Whoever shall be judged
in the right, let him be considered so, in the mean time I will forgive
those who have done the wrong, and go to the Sacrament." Thus you will
go not unworthily, because you desire justice and are willing to suffer
wrong, however the judge's sentence may fall. Take kindly this
exhortation which your son has so earnestly begged from me. Herewith I
commend you to God. Amen. Wednesday, after Miser., A.D. 1540.

                                                'Martinus Luther.'

"My children will find the original of this letter in its place with
other important documents, and will no less carefully than myself
preserve it as an autograph of that highly enlightened, holy, dear, and
of the whole world praiseworthy man, and will love, and value, and keep
it as a pleasant remembrance for their children and children's

"This letter my brother brought home to my father, and in order that
his parents might see that their money had not been spent in vain, he
brought with him also some of his Latin poems which had been printed.
In the following years he applied himself with industry at home to his
private studies. For besides other poems at Rostock, he published at
Lubeck an elegy on the Christian martyr Dr. _Robert Barns_,[51] which
had a tragical result for both the printer and himself. For the poem
came to the knowledge of the king of England, who sent an envoy to the
city of Lubeck with bitter complaints and threatenings, as the poem had
been published by their printer Johann Balhorn. The dignitaries of
Lubeck made excuses for the author, although he did not dwell there nor
belong to their jurisdiction, as he was only a young fellow who wished
to give proof of his learning; but the publisher, Johann Balhorn, was
sent out of the city, and had to leave it by break of day. They thereby
appeased the king's anger, and after some months allowed Balhorn to
return to the city.

"But my brother, Magister Johann, when he was travelling home from
Lubeck to Rostock had as companions Herr Heinrich Sonneberg and a
female, and besides there rode near the carriage Hans Lagebusch and a
smart young fellow, Hermann Lepper, who had exchanged _boguslawische
schillinge_ and other money for some hundred gulden coined in
Gadebusch, and which lay in the carriage. This was discovered by
certain highwaymen, as thievish miscreants are called. Highway robbery
was very common in Mecklenburg, as it was never seriously punished, and
many nobles even of the highest birth were engaged in it; so that one
may truly say with the poet:--

           'Nobilis et Nebulo parvo discrimine distant:
              Sic nebulo magnus nobilis esse potest.'

Nevertheless the genuine nobility, among whom are many honourable men,
who are in all ways worthy of esteem, are not spoken of here. Now,
thank God, there is a careful superintendence exercised in the Duchy of
Mecklenburg; but then the highwaymen could say, if we give up three
hundred gulden we place ourselves out of all danger, and can always
keep the remaining two hundred. When the travellers came to the
Ribbenitzer heath, those who were sitting in the carriage alighted from
it, having their arms with them; and the two horsemen, who ought to
have remained by it in that insecure place, rode forward. Against these
the highwaymen collected themselves, one of whom joined Lagebusch, and
talked familiarly with him. When riding so near to him that he could
reach the stock of his pistol, which was cocked (it was not then the
custom to carry double barrels in the saddle), he seized it out of the
holster, and hastened therewith after Hermann Lepper, who was riding
back to the carriage, and shot him, so that he fell from his nag. Hans
Lagebusch took to flight, and rode to Ribbenitz; Herr Heinrich
Sonneberg ran into the wood, and concealed himself among the bushes; my
brother, who had a hunting-spear, placed himself against the hind
wheel, that they might not attack him from behind; in front he defended
himself, and kept off one after another, inflicting wounds on them, for
he thrust his spear into the side of one of them near his leg, so that
riding to the bushes he fell from his horse, which escaped, and he
remained lying there. Another then fiercely attacked my brother, and
cut a piece from his head the size of a thaler, and even a little bit
of his skull, at the same time wounded him in the neck with his sword,
so that he fell and was considered dead. The miscreant plundered the
carriage, took all that was therein, and also carried off the horse of
their wounded comrade; as they saw he was so much wounded that there
was little life remaining in him, and not being able to carry him away,
they left him lying there. They left the driver his horses, and rode
away with their booty. Herr Heinrich Sonneberg returned to the
carriage; they laid my brother in it, and the woman bound up his head
with her handkerchief, and held it in her lap. The dead body they laid
at his feet, and thus drove slowly to Ribbenitz. There his wounds were
dressed, and the surgeon put some plaster on his neck. A rumour of this
came to Rostock. The councillor sent his servants to the spot, who
found the wounded highwayman, and took him to Rostock; but, alas! he
died as soon as they reached the prison, so that they could not learn
who the others were. It did not, however, remain quite secret, but was
hushed up by their connections, and the high magistrates did not in
good earnest investigate the matter. The dead miscreant was however
brought before the court, and from thence taken to the Landwehr to have
his head cut off, which was placed on a pole, where it was to be seen
for many years. Lagebusch brought the tidings to Stralsund, and the
councillor sent along with my father a close carriage with four of the
city horses; we took our beds with us, and starting in the evening,
travelled all night through, so that we reached Ribbenitz early in the
morning. We found my brother very weak, but we remained there on
account of the horses; and had the deceased Hermann Lepper christianly
and honourably buried, after an inquest had been held. Towards evening
we left Ribbenitz, and drove at a foot's pace through the night, so
that we reached Stralsund towards noon on the following day. When
Master Joachim Geelhar, the celebrated surgeon, had properly dressed
the wounds, the patient was soon thoroughly cured."

                              CHAPTER IX.

                             YOUNG STUDENT.

The chief charm of the life of the olden time consists in the graceful
manifestation of those feelings which give brightness to our life; the
passions of lovers, the deep affection of husband and wife, the
tenderness of parents, and the piety of children. We are enabled in
each period of the past to distinguish the universal attributes of
human nature, nay, even the specific German characteristics of love and
marriage, but these tender relations are precisely those which are
often enveloped in much that is transitory and enigmatical. We have
often to seek mild and humane feelings under repulsive forms.

But two things have always been valued in Germany. In the first place
it was a pre-eminent peculiarity of the Germans that they honoured the
dignity of the female sex. Their women were the prophetesses of the
heathen time, and, according to the laws of the people, whosoever
killed a maiden or widow had to atone for it by the severest
punishment. In times of strife and war, women enjoyed protection of
person and property. Whilst Totila, Prince of the Goths, destroyed the
men in Italy, the honour and life of the women were preserved, and the
misbehaviour of a Goth to a Neapolitan woman was punished with death.
It moreover appears from the Sachsenspiegel, that the same laws
prevailed in the North even during the time of the cruel Hussite wars.

Of all the misdeeds of the Spanish soldiers who accompanied Charles V.
into Germany in the sixteenth century, their ill-treatment of women
excited the greatest indignation. The infamous conduct of some Passau
soldiers of the Archduke Leopold towards the women of Alsace, even in
1611, was particularly repugnant to the people, and was commented on in
their news-sheets. It was not till the Thirty years' war that the
coarseness became universal, and women were looked upon as the booty of
licentious men.

This respect for women and chaste family life was considered by the
Romans the highest quality of the Germans. Even Christianity, which
spread from the Roman to the German countries, could not place women
and marriage on a higher footing; on the contrary, its ascetic
tendencies served to lower them. The full enjoyment of the pleasures of
the world were no longer allowed to man; passionate devotion to a
beloved husband was easily mistaken for a wrong to heaven and the holy
Redeemer. On the other hand men fixed their eyes on the heavenly
Virgin, whose especial favour they might win by despising the women of
earth. At the time of the Saxon Emperors this tendency of the mind
reached its highest point. In those days education was confined to the
cloister; there the daughters of the nobility were educated; there men
weary of sin retired; and there also, enthusiasm sought for the highest
enjoyment of love, which seemed unattainable in marriage without danger
to the salvation of the soul. Secret sensuality mixed even with the
worship of the highest objects of faith.

But the heart of man could not long rest satisfied with ideal love in
heaven. When, under the first Hohenstaufen, education, manners, and
good taste were only to be found among the feudal nobility, they
hastened to transfer to the women of this world the devotion and
veneration which had been exclusively confined to the Virgin Mary. The
courtly worship of woman began, new conventional forms were introduced
for the intercourse between man and woman, accompanied in Germany with
a strong intermixture of Italian manners. The man had to give proof of
his love by heroic deeds and adventures, and his lady-love was
surrounded by an atmosphere of poetry, and veiled in ideal perfections,
as we may perceive in the numerous minne-songs of that time. But
neither the dignity of woman, nor the fundamental morality of marriage,
was increased by this chivalrous devotion, and it became a cloak for
reckless profligacy. Sometimes even a married woman had a knight
devoted to her service; he was invested kneeling before his liege lady,
and she, laying her hands between his, confirmed his allegiance by a
kiss. From that time he wore her colours; he was bound to be faithful
to her, and she to him, and in some cases they lived together as man
and wife; and there were even instances in which the Church gave its
sanction to these improper unions.

This knightly service often led men into the greatest follies. For
instance, Pierre Vidal of Toulouse went about on all-fours in a wolfs
skin, in honour of his lady, till he was beaten and bitten almost to
death by the shepherds and sheep dogs; and Ulrich von Lichtenstein, who
rode through the whole country in woman's clothes, challenging all the
knights, and had his finger and upper lip cut off in honour of his
lady, drank the water in which she had washed, and when he returned
from his expeditions, was nursed by his wife. These are not the worst
examples of the horrible eccentricities to which this knightly devotion
led. The result was such as might be expected,--the glitter of romance
soon disappeared, and coarse profligacy remained in its nakedness.

The Church did little to improve this state of things. There were
individual popular preachers who courageously advocated marriage and
chastity, but it was at this very time that the celibacy of the secular
clergy was established, and that the mass of the people were reduced to
bondage by the feudal lords. The purity of marriage and the happiness
of families were not promoted either by the position of the village
priest living in his parish without a legal wife, nor by that of the
proprietor who had to give his sanction to marriages, received tribute
on account of them, and even laid shameful claims on the person of the

On the other hand there arose in the cities a fresh and vigorous life,
and from the fourteenth century, the citizens became the best
representatives of German cultivation and manners, as once the
ecclesiastics had been, and afterwards the nobles. Owing to the close
proximity of the dwellings in the city, and the smallness of their
houses, the intercourse between man and woman became more strictly
defined, and on the whole a practical sound conception of life took the
place of chivalrous fancies; citizen habits followed courtly manners;
ladies were won by cautious wooing instead of by daring heroic deeds;
maidenly modesty attracted more than haughty assumption; instead of the
wild knightly life of the nobles, which frequently separated man and
wife, and violently severed the marriage tie, the woman now obtained a
quiet sway in the well-regulated house, and the bold courtesy of the
knight was replaced by a considerate, though strictly regulated and
sometimes rather formal, expression of heartfelt esteem.

The conception of propriety and purity was different, however, from
what it is now. At the time of the Council of Constance, the refined
Poggio relates with great satisfaction how at Baden near Zurich, the
most fashionable bath of the fifteenth century, he had seen German men
and women bathing together, and how delightfully naïve their
familiarity was. And even a century later Hutten praises this German
custom in contradistinction to the Italian morals, which would have
made this practice impossible. So tolerant still were the German

Marriage, however, was considered by our ancestors less as a union of
two lovers, than as an institution replete with duties and rights, not
only of married people towards one another, but also towards their
relatives--as a bond uniting two corporate bodies. The relations of the
wife became also the friends of the man, and they had claims on him as
he had on them. Therefore in the olden time, the choice of husband and
wife was always an affair of importance to the relatives on both sides,
so that a German wooing, from the oldest times up to the last century,
had the appearance of a business transaction, which was carried out
with great regard to suitability. This perhaps takes away from German
courtship, somewhat of the charm which we expect to find where the
heart of man beats strongly; but this circumspect method of weighing
things is a characteristic sign of an earnest and great conception of
life. If a man desired to ask a woman in marriage he had to go through
several solemn family negotiations. First the wooing, for which he had
to employ a mediator; not always the lather or any other head of his
family, but often some man of consideration in the town or country.
This ambassador was generally accompanied by the wooer himself with a
troop of his companions: if it took place in the country, they rode in
solemn procession. If the family of the maiden was favourably disposed,
they considered this as the preliminary step, and fixed a time for the
negotiations between the families to take place. Formerly the man had
to buy his wife from her family; but when this old custom fell into
disuse, there still remained the arrangements concerning the dowry
which the bride had to bring to her husband, and the jointure which he
had to settle upon her. There were added to this, though not compulsory
yet as a standing custom, presents of the man to the parents, brothers,
and sisters of the bride, or from the bride to the family and best-men
of the bridegroom. After this consultation, followed the betrothal,
which had to take place in the presence of the rightful guardians:
amidst the circle of witnesses, both parties had solemnly to declare
that they would take each other in marriage; after which a ring was
placed on the finger of the bride by the bridegroom; they embraced and
kissed, thus showing the passing of the maiden into the family and
guardianship of the man. After this betrothal, a certain space of time
having elapsed, the termination of which was in many places legally
fixed, the solemn fetching home of the bride to the house of the
bridegroom took place. Again there was a solemn procession to the house
of the maiden, and even if the bridegroom was present he was obliged to
have a spokesman, who once more wooed her before the assembled family,
and gave her over to the bridegroom; then she was taken in procession
to the house of the latter, where the bridal feast was held. It was a
bad custom in the middle ages, that this repast was got up with an
extravagance which far surpassed the means of the bridal couple; and
there were numerous police regulations endeavouring to limit the luxury
in music, dishes, and the number of tables[52] and feast days.

Such was the marriage ceremonial of the Germans. The old custom of the
bridal wreath, which was worn by both bride and bridegroom, was
introduced into Germany from Rome. The consecration of marriage by the
Church was only required from the time of the Carlovingians, and was
seldom neglected by the nobility, but did not become general among the
people till a later period. The Church had indeed raised marriage to
the dignity of a sacrament; but a feeling remained among the people
that Christianity looked coldly and sternly on it. Even in the
fifteenth century the consecration of marriage by the Church was not
entirely established, nor does it take place to this day in many places
before the fetching home of the bride.

In this respect also, Luther and the Reformation had a great influence.
From the sixteenth century the consecration of marriage by the Church
became in the Protestant countries the essential part of the ceremony;
from that time the old customs of betrothals and of fetching home the
bride were secondary considerations. It was not till after Luther and
the Council of Trent, that marriage became intimately connected with
the Christian faith in the German mind; for then the different
confessions endeavoured by educating and elevating the people, to make
them comprehend the moral and domestic significance of marriage.

And how was it with the heart of lovers? The following example will
show how true love germinated amidst all the various family interests.

Felix Platter, the son of Thomas Platter, burgher, printer,
schoolmaster, and householder at Basle, was born in 1536. His father by
unwearied activity had risen from the greatest poverty, and had up to
an advanced age to struggle with anxieties for his maintenance, and
with pecuniary embarrassments, in consequence of the constant extension
of his business. This hard battle with life had exercised its usual
influence on his mind; he had a restless spirit of enterprise, which
sometimes hindered him from steadily pursuing a plan; he had no real
self-confidence, was easily perplexed, irritable, and morose. His son
Felix, the only child by his first marriage, had on the contrary
inherited the joyous disposition of his single-minded mother; he was a
jolly warm-hearted lad, rather vain, passionately fond of music and
dancing, at the same time clever, open and ingenuous. He was still
almost a boy when his father sent him from Basle to the celebrated
medical college of the university of Montpellier. Felix having acquired
there, not only everything that medical science then offered, but all
kinds of French refinements, returned to the simple burgher life of his
native town: at the age of one-and-twenty he took his degree as doctor,
and married happily a maiden about whom he had been teased when a
child. He gained a great reputation, became Professor of the
university, and a man of opulence and consideration, and died at an
advanced age. He was of the greatest service to the city of Basle, by
his self-sacrificing activity at the time of the plague, and also to
the medical faculty of his university by his learning; and he was often
consulted as a physician of renown by persons of princely rank both in
Germany and France. He laid out a botanic garden at Basle, and
possessed a cabinet of physical science worthy of being shown for
money. Like his father, he wrote an account of part of his life: the
following fragment is taken from a printed edition of the manuscript,
entitled 'Thomas and Felix Platter, two Autobiographies, by Dr. D. A.
Fechter, Basle, 1840.'

The narrative begins with that day on which the young Felix returns
with all the self-confidence of a scholar to his native town.

"I was welcomed home by all my neighbours, and there was great
rejoicing; the servant-maid of the midwife, Dorly Becherer, as I learnt
afterwards, gained the _botenbrot_[53] from my intended, by running to
her father's house and screaming out the news, which she did so loud as
quite to frighten her. Supper was prepared, and some of my companions
who had heard of my arrival, and had forthwith come to visit me, stayed
for it. After supper we escorted them to the Crown inn, and going down
the Freienstrasse, my intended saw me passing by in my Spanish cap, and
she fled. The innkeeper, who had himself been wooing her, bantered me,
so that I perceived the affair was pretty well known: after that I
returned home.

"The following morning, Hummel came to me to take me about the town. We
first passed the Minster close, there Herr Ludwig von Rischach spied me
out, and was wondering who I was, because I wore a velvet barret cap
and arms: I made myself known to him; then I saluted Dr. Sulzer, pastor
of the Minster; afterwards, Dr. Hans Huber, who welcomed me kindly and
offered me his services; I made him a present of Clemens Marot, which
had been beautifully bound at Paris.

"After that we went down Martin's Alley, and when we arrived at the
bottom of it, opposite the school, my intended, who was standing by the
bench saw me, though I did not see her; she ran into the school and
home again; and after that she no longer went to the shops of the
butchers, because they began to tease her. After dinner my father took
me to his property at Gundeldingen; he talked to me on the road, and
exhorted me not to speak too fast, as the French are apt to do, and
gave me an account of his household. I began immediately to prepare my
cypress lute, and to string the large harp which my father had formerly
played; and I put my books and manuscripts in order; thus I spent the
whole week.

"Meanwhile my father arranged matters that I might talk with my
intended, and she with me; he therefore invited Master Franz and his
daughter to come out to Gundeldingen the following Sunday afternoon; it
was the sixteenth of May, a merry spring day. I went out there after
dinner with Thiebold Schönauer; we had sent on our lutes, and when we
entered the yard at Gundeldingen we saw two maidens standing there; one
was the cousin of the landlady, and engaged to Daniel the son of Master
Franz, the other was his daughter Magdalen, my intended, whom I greeted
cordially, as she did me, not without changing colour. Thus we got into
converse; her brother Daniel joined us; we walked about the property,
talking of divers things; my intended was modest, bashful, and quiet.
At three o'clock we returned to the house, and went up stairs; I and
Thiebold played the lute, and I danced the gaillarde, as was my custom.
Meanwhile, Master Franz, her father, arrived and welcomed me; we sat
down to table and had an evening drink as at supper, till it was late,
and time for us to return to town. On the road homewards, her father
and mine went in advance, and I and Daniel followed with the ladies in
friendly talk, when Dorothy, who was somewhat bold of speech, burst
forth, saying, 'When two are fond of each other they should make no
delay, for one knows not how quick a misfortune may come between them.'
Near the ramparts we separated, Master Franz and his party went home
through the Stein gate, and my father and his through the Eschemer
gate. We all went to bed full of curious thoughts about myself.

"My father-in-law and my father took counsel together, to make our
engagement sure. I began to love her very much, and urged it on. I also
was not disagreeable to her, which I had partly found out from herself,
when the wife of the butcher, Burlacher, my mother's cousin, had
invited us to her meadow before the Spalen gate to eat cherries, where
we had been able to speak openly. It was determined that Dr. Hans Huber
should make the proposal for me. When my father asked it of him, he
readily assented, appointed Master Franz in the forenoon to meet him at
the Minster, made the proposal, and gained his consent for a family
marriage counsel. In the evening, when Dr. Hans came to me, he
announced it to me with exultation, as was his wont, and congratulated
me; but informed me that my father-in-law wished the affair to be kept
quiet till my doctorate was over, when matters might proceed. I was
well satisfied therewith, as my future father-in-law was at last
inclined to consent. Formerly, he had always held back because he
feared that my father was greatly in debt, and because he had boarders;
for, as he said, he did not wish his daughter to be thrown into debts
and disquietudes. But when he heard from my father that his debts were
small in comparison with his property in land and houses, and that he
himself intended to do away with the boarders, he was satisfied; and so
much the more as Herr Caspar Krug, afterwards burgomaster, who had seen
me, advised him, and because his son Ludwig told him he ought to thank
God, as he had good hopes that I should become a renowned doctor, for I
had shown my skill in curing his wife (who was weak after giving birth
to two children) by giving her marchpane, which I had ordered when it
was not yet the custom to do so. So my father-in-law was at last well
pleased, and did not object to my going to his house to speak with his
daughter. Yet I did this mostly in his absence, and secretly. I entered
by the back door in the alley, and talked to her there in the lower
part of the house, with due propriety and honour. Her father did not
object, but appeared not to notice it; he also deferred matters as long
as he could, for he did not like to give away his daughter, who, as he
boasted, kept house so well for him.

"About this time, Thomas Guerin was engaged to Jungfrau Elizabeth of
the Falcon. He frequently came to me with Pempelfort, and begged of me
to arrange a musical serenade, to do homage to his love at the Falcon.
I promised him this, but under the condition that a serenade should
also be given at any place that I chose. So we equipped ourselves, and
went, late after supper, in front of the house of my intended. We had
two lutes, I and Thiebold Schönaur played together, afterwards I took
the harp, and Pempelfort the viola. The goldsmith Hogenbach whistled an
accompaniment, and it was altogether quite fine music; no one took any
notice of us, for my future father-in-law was at home. Then we went to
the Falcon, and there, after we had paid our court, we were admitted,
and had a splendid night-cup, with all kinds of sweetmeats; when we
were returning home, the watchmen stopped us at the Green King, but
they let us go after we had given them satisfactory answers. I often
took a walk to the house of my intended, but as far as possible,
secretly, and talked much whimsical nonsense, as lovers do, which she
answered discreetly. I dressed myself also, according to custom, for
then we wore only coloured clothes, and not black, except for mourning.
Certain persons now began to watch me, and once when I left the house
after supper, two men followed me, and would willingly have beaten me,
but I escaped, so that nothing happened to me.

"Soon after I had become a doctor my father urged that the marriage
should be concluded between me and the Jungfrau Magdalen; and
therefore, towards the end of September, he spoke to her father, and as
I had honourably and praiseworthily fulfilled everything, and the
matter had not remained secret, he could not object to settling
it--thereupon he gave a satisfactory answer, but kept always delaying
the affair, for, as aforesaid, he was unwilling to part with his
daughter. Meanwhile I was allowed to go to the house openly; but it
surprised me that it did not displease him, as it was not yet a settled
marriage, and, indeed, might never have taken place; our intercourse,
however, was carried on with all due propriety and honour, and we held
converse on divers discreet subjects, and had much joking and
bantering, and often I helped her to make electuaries, and thus we
passed the time. We had once particularly good fun; when on the eve of
St. Simon and St. Jude they rang the bells for the fair, I wished to
get a fairing from her. As her father was absent, I went secretly to
the back door of her house which was constantly open, and seeing no
one, as all were in the chamber below, I slipped up the stairs to the
garret, and looked out of the skylight in order to hear when the bells
rang in the fair at twelve. I waited for three hours, both cold and
weary; as soon as the bells began to sound, I slipped down and opened
the door of the room crying out, 'Give me a fairing,' thinking thereby
to surprise her. There was no one there, and the maid said, as she had
been told to do, that she was gone out; but she had hidden herself
under the staircase, and was waiting; soon after she hastened into the
room with the usual exclamation, and gained from me the fairing. This I
gave her handsomely, and she gave me one also. I wished to present her
with the little chain that I had brought with me from Paris, but she
begged me to keep it, as it might give occasion for gossip, and she
might have it at some other time; but she took the little beautifully
bound Testament which I had also offered her; thus we had our pastime
for a long period, as is usual with young people.

"After the fair at Basle, my father-in-law, as he could no longer
delay, began to prepare for the betrothal, and it was fixed for the
week after St. Martin's day. We came about four o'clock to his house;
there were assembled on his side Herr Caspar Krug, afterwards
burgomaster, Martin Fickler, and Master Gregorius Schölin, and Batt
Hug, his friends, and his son Franz Jeckelmann; there were on our side
Dr. Hans Huber, Matthias Bornhart, and Henricus Petri. They negotiated
about the dowry, and my future father-in-law announced that his
daughter would bring with her more than three hundred pounds' worth of
property; of this there would be one hundred florins of ready money,
and the rest in clothes and linen. When they asked my father what he
would give, he replied he could not say; he had no child but me, and
all would be mine. But when they told him that he must name something,
as there might be changes (as did, indeed, afterwards happen),[54] he
answered that he had not reflected upon this, so he would name four
hundred gulden; but that as he could not give it me we should board
with him instead, for he had no money to give me, on the contrary he
was much in debt. Thereupon arose some disputing; my father-in-law
exclaimed that he would not expose his daughter to the discomfort of
the boarders, and would rather have us in his house, and censured my
father for being in debt, so that my father was much grieved, and if
the honourable company present had not interfered, the matter would
have remained unsettled. This was the first contretemps that happened
to me, and was a great grief both to me and to my intended, who had
heard all in the kitchen, and was in great trouble. However, the affair
was smoothed, as my father said he would gladly give up the boarders,
though it could not be done immediately. From that time my father was
somewhat out of sorts, which embittered the whole pleasure of my
nuptials. We were betrothed, and I presented my bride with the gold
chain I had brought from Paris; and my father-in-law gave the banquet,
with good entertainment and speeches, but there was no music, which I
should have liked best.

"Great preparations were made for the marriage, which was to take place
on the following Monday, for my father considering that he had an only
son, wished, for the satisfaction of my father-in-law, to invite the
whole of his friends and other well-wishers; so invitations were sent
out on the Saturday to the relations and neighbours, and our good
friends the master and councillor of the Guild of the Bear, to some of
the high school, nobles, councillors, scholars, and also artisans with
their wives and children.

"On the following Sunday, the 21st of October, our banns were published
as is customary; the tables, and everything appertaining to the wedding
were arranged in both my fathers' houses; many helped, and Master Batt
Oesy, the landlord of the Angel, was cook. In the evening I went to my
father-in-law's house, watched them making the nosegays, and remained
with them till after supper. When I returned home I found Herr
Schreiber Rust, an old acquaintance of my father's, who had come out of
friendship from Burtolf to the wedding, and had brought with him a
beautiful Emmenthaler cheese. He was sitting at table with my father,
who was greatly disquieted, as to how he could feed and treat so large
a number of people as had been invited; he persuaded himself that it
would be impossible, and that he would disgrace himself, and he was
quite cross. Especially, when I came home, he began to scold me very
roughly for sitting always with my bride, and letting him have all the
trouble, instead of helping him; and he was so angry with me that Herr
Rust had enough to do to pacify and comfort him. This third cross and
embittering of the happiness of my wedding was very disquieting to me,
as I was not accustomed to be thus scolded, and had hitherto usually
been praised and well treated; I saw clearly how it would henceforth be
when there were two of us living at my father's cost, so that
everything would be rendered unpleasant to me. I went to bed full of
sorrow, and thought like a fool that I would like to withdraw from my
present position, if the door were only open to me.

"On the morning of the 22nd of October, St. Cecilia's day, I was still
dispirited, as I had slept little. I put on my bridegroom's shirt which
had been sent to me, with a gold embroidered collar and many golden
spangles on the short breast piece, as was the custom then, and over
that a red brocaded satin waistcoat and flesh-coloured breeches. Thus I
came down and found my father no longer so unjust, for when he had
begun to complain again, although there was a superfluity of
everything, he got a good chiding from Dorothea Schenkin, who was also
helping, and was a rough-spoken woman. When the marriage guests were
assembled, we went in procession to my father-in-law's house, and with
us Dr. Oswald Berus, who, in spite of his great age, was dressed in an
open satin waistcoat and a camlet coat, the same as mine, and a velvet
barret cap, like that which was placed on my head, when in front of my
bride's house, and this said cap was bordered with pearls and flowers.

"We went about nine o'clock to the Minster, and then the bride arrived
in a flesh-coloured cloak, led by Herr Heinrich Petri. After the sermon
they married us; I gave her a twisted ring worth eight dollars; then we
proceeded to the Jagdhof, where they gave us to drink. I led my bride
in, and they regaled her splendidly in the upper room.

"There were fifteen tables spread, which were well filled by more than
one hundred and fifty persons, not counting those who waited upon them,
and a number of them remained to supper. The entertainment proceeded
after this fashion: there were four courses in the following order, a
hash of mutton, soup, meat, fowls, boiled pike, a roast, pigeons,
capons, geese, rice porridge, salted liver, cheese, and fruit. There
were divers kinds of wines, amongst others Rangenwein, which was much
to the taste of the guests. The music consisted of Christelin the
trumpeter, with his viola; the singers were the scholars, who sang
among other things the song of the spoon; after the dinner, which did
not last as long as is now customary, Herr Jacob Meyer, the Councillor
of the Bear, broke up the party. Dr. Myconius led the bride to the
house of Dr. Oswald Berus, where there was dancing in the hall; there
were many persons, and some of them people of consequence. Master
Laurens played the lute, Christelin accompanied him on his viola, which
was then less used than now. I wished to do the courteous by my bride,
as I had been accustomed to do in France in dancing, but she being
bashful gently admonished me, so I desisted. I danced however, at
Myconius' suggestion, a gaillard alone.

"After that we returned to my father's house to supper. When it began
to get late the guests took leave, and that there might not be too much
noise and joking, I hid myself in my father's room, where my bride also
had been secretly concealed, whose father wept so at parting with her,
that I thought they would be quite ill from crying. I led her into my
father's little room, and some of the women of her acquaintance came to
comfort her, to whom I gave some claret to drink, which I had kept in a
small cask behind the stove, and had made very good. When they
departed, my mother who was always cheerful, came and said that the
young students were seeking me, therefore we had better conceal
ourselves and go to bed; so she led us secretly by the back stairs up
to my room, where we sat for some time, and as it was very cold we were
half frozen, so we commended ourselves to God and went to bed; and none
of the students knew what had become of us. After a time we heard my
mother come up stairs above our room; there she sat and sang with as
sweet a voice as a young maiden, though she had reached a great age;
whereat my bride laughed heartily.

"On the Tuesday morning her bridesmaid Kathleen brought her the rest of
her clothes; we admitted her, and as she was a pleasant maiden, we had
much fun with her. After that the marriage guests collected again at
dinner, which took place at eleven o'clock, for then we had not turned
time topsy-turvy, as is the bad custom now. There were as many tables
laid as on the first day, and the entertainment was as ample; and there
was in addition the bridal porridge, which is now replaced by mulled
wine. After dinner they danced till night, and at supper there were
still many guests, especially the maidens, who all took leave and went
home in good time. There were many rich presents given at the marriage;
but of these I got only a small goblet and two ducats, the rest my
father took to defray the costs as far as they would, and later, as
soon as I earned something, I had to pay him for my clothes. My father
took also the hundred gulden that my wife had brought with her, and
paid it off likewise. My father-in-law made me no present, because, as
he afterwards told me, he had paid five gulden for me at the doctor's
capping feast, and therewith I ought to be content. The household gear
that my wife brought with her was not very good; an old pan in which
they had made her porridge, and a large wooden bowl in which her
mother's dinner had been brought to her during her confinements, and
other bad utensils, which were placed behind a screen in our room.
After that, our household arrangements were to be fixed and regulated
by my wife's advice, which required great consideration. My father
still continued to have boarders and all kinds of disquiet in the
house, so that we young married people were much harassed; we had
rather have kept house by ourselves, but we could not manage it; we
were obliged for nearly three years to board with my father, and I had
to make shift with my room, and to see the sick in the lower hall,
which was cold in winter. There was frequent offence taken because I
could not help towards the kitchen expenditure, for I had enough to do
to provide ourselves with clothes, and frequently had to pay what I had
just earned to the shops where I was still in debt for them; which was
thrown in my teeth, if I did not do it. Thus there were at times
quarrels, as often happens when old and young dwell together. Therefore
my wife would have been glad if we could have dwelt by ourselves, and
she would willingly have managed with very little; if my father would
have given the promised dowry and the hundred gulden which she had
brought to me, we could have subsisted upon that; but my father could
not do this, as he had no ready money; and I did not wish to anger, but
rather conciliate him, and so I spoke him fair, saying, we would have
patience till I got into better practice. All this grieved me because I
loved her much, and would gladly have maintained her as was meet for a
doctor's wife; therefore for a long time I treated her with less
familiarity and more ceremony; my father perceived this with
displeasure, and thought it ought not to be. I had not much to do
before the new year.

"There were many doctors at Basle when I came there, both graduates and
quacks, in the year 1557. Therefore I had to be very skilful to support
myself, and God has abundantly blessed me therein. From day to day I
got more practice both among the inhabitants of the town, and also
among the strangers, some of whom came to me and dwelt a long time
here, using my remedies, whilst others went away immediately, having
obtained my advice and prescription. Strangers also sent for me to
their houses and castles, whither I hastened, not staying long, but
returning home quickly, that I might attend to those at home as well as
in distant parts."

                               CHAPTER X.

                         OF A PATRICIAN HOUSE.

Though the narrative of Sastrow gives us a view of the hard struggle of
a rising family, and that of Felix Platter shows to what shifts even a
vigorous life may be reduced, yet one must not forget that the
intellectual life of Germany was rich and varied in its aims and
tendencies. Worldly-minded education, opulence, and the pleasures of
social enjoyment were concentrated in the patrician families of the
great Imperial cities, who, however, often manifested bad taste in
their refinement; but at the same time arts and commerce called forth
all their energies, and whatever sense of beauty then existed, was to
be found especially in these circles. In the great cities of
Switzerland, the Low Countries, and the seaports of the German Hanse
Towns, there was a peculiar development of the patrician order; but it
was the patrician families of the great commercial cities of South
Germany, and amongst these more especially those of Nuremberg,
Augsburg, Ulm, Frankfort on the Maine, and Cologne, that exercised the
greatest influence on the luxury, industry, and learning of Germany.
Members of the old families had once governed the cities with
aristocratic rule; they were still the most influential citizens,
accustomed to conduct great affairs, and to represent the highest
interests; they were generally merchants or large landed proprietors.
Most of the Church benefices were possessed by their families; they
were the first who used to send their sons into Italy, the land of
their mercantile friends, to study law, thus making preparation in
Germany for the rising Humanitarian learning. Many of them were heads
of mercantile firms, councillors and confidants of German princes; they
were united together by family alliances, and not less by community of
commercial interests and had extended themselves everywhere; they
chiefly determined the German policy of the Imperial cities, and they
would have exercised a decisive influence on the newly formed German
life, had they been less conservative in their tendencies, and had they
not by their self-interest become sometimes un-German.

They represented the moneyed power of Germany; the Emperor and princes
obtained loans from them, and they were the medium of the greater; part
of the money and exchange transactions, when these were not in the
hands of the Jews. The great firms of Fugger and Welser and their
partners formed a great trading company, which carried on traffic not
only with Italy and the Levant, but also beyond Antwerp and the
Atlantic Ocean. Through them, German trade monopolized that of the East
and West Indies; they bought a whole year's harvest from the King of
Portugal, they united themselves with Spanish houses in unlimited
speculations, undertook journeys to Calcutta, and settled on their own
account the prices of the sugar and spices of the East, which were then
of greater importance in the German cookery than now.

This command over capital was regarded with great dislike by both
princes and people. Through these trading companies much ready money
passed out of the country, and all objects of luxury rose in price;
complaints were general, for the diminution in the worth of money,
occasioned by the introduction of the American gold, was mistaken for
the raising of prices by the merchants. Not only Hutten, who was deeply
imbued with the prejudices of his own class, but even the Imperial Diet
was jealous of the power of these great moneyed companies; among the
people also, the antipathy to them was general, and the Reformers
shared the opinions of their cotemporaries as to the detriment of such
domination over capital.

Yet even then, it may be observed that these great merchant princes had
not all the same tendencies. The Welsers of Augsburg, for example, in
1512, took an active interest at Rome on behalf of Reuchlin, and that
great scholar owed his deliverance from the hands of the Dominicans,
more perhaps to their secret influence than to the refined rhetoric of
his enthusiastic admirers in Germany. On the other hand, the Fuggers
were considered by the people as reckless moneyed men and Romanists; as
enemies of Luther and friends of Eck, who was suspected of being in
their pay; for they had charge of the money affairs of the Elector
Albrecht of Mayence, and of the Romish curie, and one of the Fugger's
clerks accompanied the indulgence chest of Tetzel, and controlled the
incoming receipts, on which the banking-house of the Archbishop of
Mayence had made advances. The Emperor, Charles V., received the most
solid support from these powerful firms, as their interests were
generally concurrent with his; with the people, however, "_Fuggerei_"
became the common term for usury. We learn the family tendency for
outward splendour and intercourse with the great, from the description
which Hans von Schweinichen gives of their opulence in the year 1575.

When the dissolute Duke Hemrich von Liegnitz with his majordomo was at
Augsburg, the splendour of this house appeared to the Silesian noblemen
as quite fabulous. Schweinichen, who was more accurate in specifying
the sums of money and prices than was necessary considering the endless
debts of his master, gives the following narrative.[55]

"Herr Max Fugger once invited his Princely Highness to dinner. Such a
banquet have I never beheld, the Roman Emperor himself could not have
been entertained better: there was superabundant splendour; the repast
was spread in a hall where more gold than colour was to be seen; the
floor was of marble, and as smooth as if one was walking on ice; there
was a sideboard placed along the whole length of the hall, which was
set out with drinking-vessels and notably beautiful Venetian glasses;
there must have been, as one says, the value of more than a ton of
gold. I waited on his Princely Highness when the drinking began. Now
Herr Fugger gave to his Princely Highness for a drinking-cup, an
artistically formed ship of the most beautiful Venetian glass; when I
took it from the sideboard and was going across the hall, having on my
new shoes, I slipped up, and fell upon my back in the middle of the
hall; the wine poured about my neck, the new red brocade dress which I
had on was quite spoilt, and the beautiful ship was broken into a
thousand pieces. Though this created great laughter amongst all, yet I
was told that Herr Fugger said privately he would rather have lost a
hundred gulden than that ship; it happened, however, without any fault
on my part, for I had neither eaten nor drunk; but when later I became
intoxicated I stood firmer, and did not fall a single time even in the
dance. Meanwhile the lords and all others were very merry. Herr Fugger
took his Princely Highness a walk through the house, a prodigious great
house, so great that the Roman Emperor at the Imperial Diet found room
in it for himself and his whole court. Herr Fugger showed his Princely
Highness, in a turret, a treasure of chains, jewels, and precious
stones, and of curious coins and pieces of gold the size of a head, and
he himself said that they were worth more than a million of gold.
Afterwards he opened a chest that was full of nothing but ducats and
crowns up to the brim; these he estimated at two hundred thousand
gulden, which had been remitted to him in exchange by the King of
Spain. Then he led his Princely Highness up to the turret, which was
paved half way down from the top with good thalers; he said there were
about seventeen thousand. He showed his Princely Highness great honour,
but also his own power and possessions: it is said that Herr Fugger had
enough to buy an empire. He gave me, on account of my fall, a beautiful
new groschen which weighed about nine grains. His Princely Highness
expected also a good present, but got nothing but a good drinking bout.
At that time Fugger bestowed the hand of his daughter on a count, and
gave two hundred thousand thalers, besides jewels, as her dowry.

"As his Princely Highness had very little ready money he sent me to
Herr Fugger to borrow four thousand thalers; but he decidedly declined
doing this, excusing himself quite politely; however the following day
he sent his steward to me to be introduced to my lord, through whom he
presented to his Princely Highness two hundred crowns, a beautiful
goblet worth eighty dollars, and besides that a splendid horse with
black velvet housings."

Together with this taste for display we find in other patrician
families at the beginning of this century far higher aims in life. The
firms of Pentinger at Augsburg, and Perkheimer at Nuremberg were the
focus of the noblest interests of the nation; the heads of these houses
were men of princely opulence, landed proprietors and merchant princes,
statesmen and warriors, and at the same time men of learning and
research. It was for families like these that Albert Dürer painted his
best pictures; to them the travelling Humanitarians resorted; every
elegant verse, every manly sentiment or word of genius, were there
first heartily appreciated. As councillors and patrons in worldly
concerns, as liberal proprietors of valuable libraries and of
first-rate cabinets of antiquities, as hospitable masters of rich
households, they knew how to do honour to all who brought to their
houses intellect, knowledge, and refinement.[56]

In these families, the women also frequently received an education
which went further than the knowledge of cooking, spinning, and the
prayer-book; the daughters of these households gained what was seldom
to be found in the castles of the princes or in the mansions of the
landed nobility,--a heartfelt interest in the sciences and arts with
which the friends of the family were occupied. There is a peculiar
charm for us in the contemplation of the first female characters who
were ennobled by the dawn of a new civilization. Constance Peutinger,
who twined the laurel wreaths for Hutten; Caritas Perkheimer, the
suffering abbess of Clarenklosters at Nuremberg, and later Philippine
Welser, the wife of the Emperor's son, all belonged to the class of
German patricians; they were sensitive natures often oppressed and
wounded in this rough and thorny period.

It was especially when a woman took part in the literary struggle that
she was destined to suffer, this however rarely happened; the best
known instances are those of Caritas Pirkheimer and Argula von
Grumbach, born at Stauffen; both experienced how bitter it is for women
to take part in the disputes of men. The Roman Catholic Caritas wrote a
letter full of reverence to Emser, and had to go through the trial of
seeing her letter printed by the Lutheran party with contemptuous
marginal notes. The Lutheran Argula, the friend of Spalatin, sent an
admonitory letter to the rector of the university at Ingoldstadt, when
it had compelled Arsatius Seehofer by imprisonment and a threat of the
stake, to recant seventeen heresies, which he had propounded to the
students from the writings of Melancthon. Argula bravely took the
master's part, whom she called a child of eighteen years old, and
offered to go to Ingoldstadt herself to defend the good cause against
the university. She was in consequence of this, maliciously assailed in
verse, against which she valiantly defended herself in counter-rhymes.
The last years of Caritas and her mild brother were embittered by the
rude attacks of the Protestant rabble and their teachers. Argula was
banished from the Bavarian court, and her husband was dismissed in
disgrace from his court appointment.

The Glauburgs were one of the most distinguished patrician families of
Frankfort-on-the-Maine; Hutten had been very intimate with some members
of this family, and had at one time indulged in the charming dream of
establishing himself at Frankfort and marrying one of them. Even the
ardent spirit of Hutten was powerfully attracted by their splendid
opulence and highly refined life. He eagerly disclaimed the suspicion
that he intended to take away his bride to the rocky home of his
family. He wooed the maiden with more consideration than was his wont,
and Arnold of Glauburg was his confidant. But it was a short dream; his
destiny soon tore him away. The following letters from two ladies will
introduce us into this patrician family; they are printed in the
Frankfort archives of J. C. von Fichard, 1811-1815. The first is the
letter of a mother to her son, in which she recommends to him a maiden
for his wife, in order to withdraw him from the revolutionaries of
Wittenberg and the neighbourhood of Luther; a letter which is
characteristic of the position of women in a family, and written by one
possessed of energy and a practical understanding, who was accustomed
to rule, and not without a disposition to intrigue; her son was the
nephew of that Arnold of Glauburg, the son of Johann, to whom Hutten
sent with hearty greeting his dialogue _Febris_.


        _From Margaret Horng_[57] _at Frankfort, to her son John
                      von Glauburg at Wittenberg_.

"Having given you first, dear Johann, my friendly greeting, know that
we are all well in health, praise and thanks be to God, and hope to
hear the same of you. Dear Johann, after I had last written to you, the
wife of Johann Knoblauch died, to whom God be merciful. She was my good
friend, and her death has caused me as great grief as the decease of my
two blessed husbands, which was however a great calamity to me; but
what God wills we must bear with patience. She and I came here the same
year, and lived so friendly together that neither ever angered the
other with a word. On her death-bed she commended to me her two
daughters as if I were her sister, and begged that I should take care
of their dowry, if I should live till they married. One of them is now
marriageable, an elegant, well-formed maiden; she is in height like
your step-sister Anna, which is also her name, and she is a clever
housekeeper, so that he who has her for a portion will not be ruined by
her; I foresee that her father will soon establish her, for there are
three who woo her, two of them are noblemen, and the third is Johann
Wolf Rohrbach, the son of Frau Ursula at the green gate, who is now
grown up and has been with his mother since Easter. Although he is only
nineteen years old, yet it is the wish of his mother and his friends to
establish him whilst she is still alive. For now no one knows what to
do with their sons, that they may learn and study what is for their
soul's salvation, and not be led astray: for when they have long
studied, and spent much money, it is of little advantage to many of
them, and perhaps it would have been more profitable to them, to have
retained the innate honesty and simplicity which they have from God,
than that they should study, and not rightly understand the Scripture,
and that then the devil should lead them astray through pride, and
others with them because they are learned and know how to talk well.
Such men lead the people into great error. I would gladly write much to
you thereupon, but having promised in my last letter that I would not
write to you again thereof, I will not do so whilst you are at
Wittenberg; for you imagine that you are in safe keeping in Wittenberg.
God grant it may be true, and that you will find it so. Further, dear
Johann, know wherefore I now write to you thus---- an honourable person
has just told me that the wife of Johann Knoblauch had desired her
husband, if you and your belongings should ask his daughter in
marriage, and the daughter were willing, that he should give her to you
rather than to any other. To this I answered, that I did not know your
inclinations, but would write and inform you of this, and whatever
answer I got from you I would communicate to this person. Therefore,
dear son, I make known to you that the maiden pleases me well in all
her ways, better than any other with whom I am acquainted; and the
mother has always been an honourable steadfast woman. Therefore, I am
well pleased that she is not of a fickle nature, for whoever has not an
apt and steadfast wife, be she ever so polished and rich, will become a
poor miserable man. Therefore, dear Johann, follow my advice, for I
give you faithful counsel. It is true there are eleven children to
provide for, some of whom are still little, but possibly may become
fewer in number, and there is a good fortune, the greater part of it in
landed property. Therefore bethink you, dear son, I do not wish to
constrain you to change your condition, but it would be the greatest
pleasure to me were you to enter this family, for looking into the
future, I can see no place that would altogether suit you so well as
this one. Dear Johann, if this idea should please you, and you should
wish to see her and that she should see you beforehand, come here in
the first week of Lent with any travelling companions that you like, to
give you security on the road; but keep your purpose to yourself,
saying nothing of it to your companions till a day or two before your
departure, then tell Justinian that you are going home. But do not tell
him why you wish to go home, but make it appear as if it were on
account of your property which you wish to regulate, as I had written
to you so strongly in my last three letters about it, declining to
administer it any longer, as is indeed my intention, if you will in
nowise take my advice. There is good reason why you should prevent his
saying a word, in order that it should remain secret. Dear Johann, I
beg of you to bethink yourself of how the times are, and that it is not
fitting for you to remain longer unsettled. Ah! may my brother-in-law
Herr Hammann find a wife also for Justinian now; it would do him no
harm, as he leads a life of pleasure; and let it not be with him as it
was with his deceased cousin Blasius, who had so accustomed himself to
a profligate life that no one could persuade him to marry till he
became old and had lost his health; he had no child, and now his wife
is betrothed again to a nobleman, one Schenk of Schweinsburg. They say
she will soon celebrate her nuptials: God grant her happiness."

Thus far the letter: the wish of the prudent mother was fulfilled; her
son returned, as she had so cautiously charged him to do, to Frankfort;
he married the maiden of her choice, and they lived together forty
years in happy matrimony.

Though we can obtain no other particulars of him and Anna Knoblauch,
yet we find accounts of members of the same family, towards the end of
the century, which characterize in a charming way the position of a
bride with her betrothed. A grandson of the above mentioned, the rich
patrician Adolf von Glauburg of Frankfort, made acquaintance, when on a
visit at Nuremberg, with the beautiful Ursula Freher, daughter of the
city Syndic of Nuremberg, and sister of the renowned scholar and
statesman, Marquard Freher of Heidelberg. The charms and agreeableness
of the lady were celebrated throughout Swabia. The following letters
were written by her to him, from Nuremberg to Frankfort during the time
of betrothal.



"To the noble and honourable Johann Adolf von Glauburg, to the hands of
my dearly beloved _Junker_.

"Most noble, honourable, amiable, and dearly beloved _Junker_, I have
received with heartfelt joy your letter, together with the chain, and
rejoice to hear you are in health, but learn with regret that your dear
sister and son are not well; may God Almighty restore them according to
his holy will. Amen. As regards us, we are, thank God, tolerably well,
may He thus long preserve us all. Dearly beloved _Junker_, my father
would gladly have written to you, but your letter arrived too late, and
the messenger waiting at the gate is in haste, so that he cannot do it
now, but will take the first opportunity.

"Dearly beloved _Junker_, with respect to the chain I have no
directions to give you; as your wish is, so is my content, what pleases
you pleases me also. The chain which I have here I will carefully
preserve, and when God brings you to us I will take the opportunity of
returning it to you; it is much too splendid for me. As to the picture,
it is ready all but the dress, at which the painter is still working,
and thinks it will be quite finished in about ten days. I have great
fear that when the picture comes to you, it will be said the _Junker_
need not have gone so far, he might have found the like of her at

"As concerns the bracelets, I have not yet got them; there is yet
plenty of time, but I will send after them.

"Dearly beloved _Junker_, I have nothing more to write to you now, I
beg of you kindly to excuse this miserable letter, which has been
written in haste; another time I will give you something better.

"No more now than kind greetings to you and your dear ones, from me and
my honoured mother, and we commend you to the care and protection of
God Almighty. Given the 12th September.

                       "Your loving and always faithful

                                         "Ursula Freherin."


"Most noble, honourable, dearly beloved, and much trusted _Junker_, may
my truth and love, together with my greetings and good wishes, be to
you beyond all other love and possessions. I received your letter with
pleasure, and learned from it with heartfelt joy of your well-being. It
is even so with us, for which we thank the gracious God; may He
continue his grace to you and all of us. Amen.

"As concerning the marriage, my honoured father and mother have
deliberated thereon, and have agreed that, please God, it shall take
place on the 13th of November, as the _Junker_ will find more amply
detailed in my honoured father's letter.

"Dearly beloved _Junker_, I understand thus much from your letter, that
you would gladly come here once again before the marriage. If that were
possible, it would certainly be a great joy to me, and would give
hearty pleasure to all mine without exception. I will not therefore
this time entreat of you, but will have all hope and confidence that it
may come to pass, and that the _Junker_ will not fail to pay a visit to
me the poor forlorn one, to which I look with great longing. Dearly
beloved _Junker_, know that the packet has not yet arrived. We have
already sent after it several times, and the answer has been, it was
expected every hour; as soon as it comes, your desire shall be attended
to; I believe it will answer well. The wife of Dr. Reiner has already
written to my honoured mother concerning it, and given it clearly to be
understood that she is not to be forgotten in the bridal presents;[58]
however she need not have been in anxiety about it, as she had already
been thought of.

"Dearly beloved _Junker_, with respect to the shirts and collars, you
must know that we are working zealously thereat, and as many as can be
got ready shall be distributed.

"I have received the bracelets; accept, my dearly beloved _Junker_, my
warmest thanks. They are much too pretty for my brown hands, but they
please me well.

"As regards dress, undoubtedly my honoured father would like to do for
one daughter the same as for the other, but as that cannot be on this
occasion, he has consented to do something more. I have three taffety
dresses; the flesh colour, one gold colour, and one black. We have the
tailor still in the house, who is making a violet-coloured damask, and
another dress in which I am to go to church, which is to be either of
red satin or of black damask. Now I beg you will let me know which you
would prefer.

"Dearly beloved _Junker_, I cannot venture to make further demands on
my father; for this reason, that none of my sisters have had so much
done for them, or such splendid things. But as you have so strongly
admonished me, I will be so unreasonable as to ask somewhat of the
_Junker_, first begging of you kindly not to take it amiss, as I do it
at your own desire; and this is my petition, dearly beloved _Junker_: I
wish you to send me a dress of whatever kind you like, whether flesh
coloured or silver, that I may have greater change of dress.

"Dearly beloved and well-trusted _Junker_, I have another great request
to make to you. You know that I have two sisters who love me, and whom
I equally love well; I should like to give them some little thing as a
present in your name, if it seems good to you. I have written this to
you because you have desired me to speak out my wishes, therefore, I
beg you, _Junker_, not to take it amiss of me. I do not write it with
the idea that it must be, but that it may be done or left undone by the
_Junker_ at his pleasure.

"I send you, according to your desire, the measure of my beautiful
stature; we have added nothing to it, but such as the maiden is, so is
the measure. I hope that, God willing, they may soon see me tall and
beautiful as I am.

"We have partaken with pleasure of the grapes you sent us, and kindly
thank you for the same. If we get anything rare we will impart it to

"I am delighted that my picture pleases your youngest daughter so well,
and that she has shown it so much honour; let her boldly kiss it; God
grant that I may see her, and I will return it to her with

"The shoes which I must have for the pulling off,[60] I will have made
as soon as possible of the best kind, as good as they can be made here,
although here they are not in fashion. Dearly beloved _Junker_, I have
one more petition to make in conclusion, namely, that you will make the
best of my plain, simple, bad letter, for I intend it in all sincerity,
and write from my open heart; and kindly favour me with an answer,
which, at the same time, I would rather have by word of mouth, than in

"No more from me but what is always pleasing and agreeable to you.
Herewith I send to the Junker, together with his dearly beloved son and
daughter, a hundred thousand greetings, and commend you and ourselves
to God Almighty. Given the 10th October at Nuremberg.

     "Yours true in [Illustration: A Heart] as long as I live,

                              "Ursula Freherin."


"Most noble, honourable, amiable, and dearly loved Junker, I send you
my most kindly greeting, together with my love and truth. I received
your letter with pleasure, and learned therefrom with heartfelt joy of
the well-being of you and yours. As regards us, we have also to thank
our dear and gracious God; may He continue his mercy to us all. Amen.

"I perceive from your letter that it is impossible for you to come to
us before the marriage. This we are sorry to hear, and I am greatly
disappointed. I quite thought you would come, and was heartily rejoiced
thereat, and oft I ran to the window when I heard any sound of riding
or driving. May our dear Lord God give us all health, and bring us
together with joy.

"With respect to the wreath, I thank you kindly, dearly beloved Junker,
that you have informed me about it. I am quite persuaded that we shall
give occasion for much rude gossip, from not knowing the customs
amongst you, as they seem quite different to what they are here. I pray
you to have the wreath made as it ought to be, and to send it to us as
you propose in your letter. As to the other wreath, Frau Nützelin has
instructed me how it ought to be, and I have ordered one with golden
spangles, which shall be properly made. I am not satisfied about the
bridal presents, as you have not written to me what I am to take for my
sisters, and they will not say what they would like; I am fearful of
taking too much, or too little, and yet wish to do exactly what is
right; I hoped that you would let me know what, and how much they
should have. As concerning mine, I hope I shall act so as to deserve

"Dearly beloved Junker, I have yet a great request to make to you
concerning the shoes, if I may venture to do it, and you will receive
it without displeasure. It is, however, a shame that I should trouble
you with it, but it cannot be helped. I have had shoes made, and shown
them to Frau Nützelin, who says they are good for nothing, being much
too large; that they ought to be quite little, or they would laugh at
me outright; and she has advised me to write to the Junker, and beg he
will have them made down there, because being the fashion, they can
make them better than here, where they are never worn; they could not
at all understand me, even when I explained it to them fully, still
they did not comprehend it; however I indeed have never seen one. I
send you herewith, dearly beloved Junker, two ducats, and pray you to
let your maid-servant see after it, it is my desire that you should not
be troubled with it. They need not be very costly, there should be only
the arms, or perhaps the name upon them, and they should not be large
or long.

"My honoured mother begs that you will not take it amiss if she does
not answer your letter now; she has so much to do, she has no leisure,
but another time she will send you an answer.

"Dearly beloved Junker, I have nothing further to write except that
yesterday I was at the wedding, I felt much because you were not here,
and also not coming, and Nützel brought me home in your place.

"I have nothing further to say, and no leisure, as I must go to the
wedding party. There remains only to send you and yours a hundred
thousand kindly greetings from my honoured mother, my brothers and
sisters, and to commend you to the care and protection of God Almighty.

     "In great haste.

        "Your true and loving brunette, and as long as I live,

                 "Yours in [Illustration: A Heart]

                                         "Ursula Freherin."


"Most noble, honourable, amiable, and dearly beloved Junker, may my
kindly greeting and good wishes attend you.

"I have received your letter, and learned with heartfelt joy, of the
well-being of you and yours; as regards us, we are, thanks and praise
be to God, still well. May God Almighty so keep us all for ever,
according to his will and pleasure. Amen.

"Concerning your letter, wherein you write that you wish to try my love
and obedience, I did not long deliberate, because the time is now
short, and I have taken a good deal out of the purse for myself and
sisters, yet not with the intention that it should always go on so; and
thus, dearly beloved Junker, your commands and my obedience are fully
carried out, and I and my sisters do greatly and kindly thank you, and
we hope, God willing, to thank you soon by word of mouth. I have also
seen, after what you wrote, that the horses should be ready.

"I hope that I shall have executed your orders so that you may be
brought safely through your dangerous journey, for it would assuredly
be very painful to me, if on my account you were to be exposed to great

"Dearly beloved Junker, we have heard with pleasure that you will come
to us at the last inn, for in truth it will be necessary to instruct us
as to all the arrangements.[61] May God Almighty give you health and
happiness, and bring us together in joy. The last inn for sleeping will
be Stockstadt; my honoured father will also write to you his
instructions, and by them you will be guided.

"No more at present, than that you, dearly beloved Junker, your son and
daughter, are heartily greeted by me and mine, and commended to the
care and protection of God Almighty.

"In great haste.

     "Your true and loving brunette, as long as I live

                 "Yours in [Illustration: A Heart]

                       "Ursula Freherin."

                              CHAPTER XI.


In the beginning of the sixteenth century we find the names of the
German nobles, Fronsperg, Hutten, and Sickingen, conspicuous in the
three different ways in which the nobles then employed themselves,--the
Army, the Church, and State, and the representation and maintenance of
the rights and interests of the landed proprietors. But it appears
strange that even up to the middle of the seventeenth century, men like
these should have had so few of their own class following in their
footsteps. From the time of Fronsperg to that of the Bohemian Junker
Albrecht of Waldstein, and the wild cavalry leader Pappenheim, the
whole of Germany produced no General of more than average skill from
among the nobility. There were a few Landsknechte leaders of citizen
extraction like Schärtlin, and some German princes, all however with
more pretension than capacity, and it was principally to Spaniards and
Italians that the family of the Emperor Charles V. and their opponents
owed their most important victories. As to the intellectual life of
Germany, there was still less of that amongst the nobility after the
time of Hutten. How few noble names do we find in the long list of
reformers, scholars, poets, architects, and artists! The first occur in
the seventeenth century, when we find those of the members of the
_Palmenordens_, the author of the 'Simplicissimus,' and of some noble
rhymers belonging to the Silesian school of poetry or to the Saxon
court. One may well ask how it happened that an order so numerous,
holding such an advantageous position with respect to the people,
should have accomplished so little in this great field of action, which
up to the time of the Hohenstaufen was especially in the possession of
the nobility. And even with the most favourably disposed judgment, it
would be difficult to ascribe to the landed nobility of the fifteenth,
sixteenth, and the first half of the seventeenth centuries, any
beneficial influences on any one of the great currents of life in

In fact the lower nobility--considered as an order--had been, since the
time of the Hohenstaufen, a misfortune to Germany. It was after the
beginning of the thirteenth century, when the difference betwixt the
noblemen and freeholders had been established by the laws, by the
interests and inclinations of the Emperor, and by the limited ideal,
which was formed by the aristocratic body, that the nobility gradually
decayed. In the cities, undoubtedly, the old dominion of the privileged
freeman was broken in the last period of the middle ages; there, in
spite of all hindrances, a quicker circulation of popular strength had
established itself. The labourer could become a citizen, the
experienced citizen could rise to be the ruler of his city, or of a
confederation of cities, and be the leader of great interests. But the
landed nobleman after the beginning of the thirteenth century sank
gradually into a state of isolation; labour was a disgrace to him, his
acres were cultivated by dependent vassals, and he naturally
endeavoured as much as possible to separate himself from them. Ever
heavier became the oppression by which he kept them down; ever higher
rose the pretensions which he, as lord of the land and soil, raised
against his own people.

But the oppression of the agriculturist was not the worst consequence
of the privileged position of the noble. If he found it to his
advantage to treat his beast of burden, the peasant, with moderation,
he was so much the more eager to make use of his landed rights in other
directions. The highroads, the river that ran by his castle, afforded
him the opportunity of laying hold of the goods of strangers; he levied
imposts upon goods and travellers; he obtruded his protecting escort
upon them, and robbed such as considered this escort unnecessary; he
built a bridge where there was no river, in order to raise a toll; he
designedly kept the roads in bad condition, because he chose to
consider that the goods of travelling merchants, though under the
Emperor's protection, so long as they were in waggons or in vessels
afloat; if the waggons were upset or vessels ran aground, belonged,
according to manorial right, to the possessor of the land. Finally he
became himself a robber, and with his comrades seized whatever he could
lay hands on; he took the goods to his house, plundered the travellers,
and kept them prisoners till they could free themselves by ransom.
Nevertheless there were certain regulated observances accompanying
these robberies, according to which the conscientious Junker
distinguished between honourable and dishonourable plunder. But this
moral code had very little to justify it. In the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries there were very few noblemen's houses which did not
deserve the name of robber-holds, and still fewer out of which
plundering attacks were not made.

But this life was most of all detrimental to the nobles themselves;
their love of plunder, and their pugnacity, made them turn as much
against their fellow-nobles as against the cities, and through the
whole of the middle ages led to innumerable feuds. When the feud was
notified by letter, some days previous to the beginning of hostilities,
it was considered honourable. Any trifle was sufficient to occasion a
feud: never-ending boundary disputes, encroachments on the chase, or
the flogging of a servant, caused discord, even between old comrades
and friendly neighbours. Then both parties strengthened themselves by
the assistance of relations and dependents; they enlisted troopers, and
endeavoured to learn through the medium of spies how they could gain an
advantage over the property, house, or person of their adversary. The
opulence of the cities, and the rancour entertained by the nobles
against the rising independence of the citizens, gave an agreeable
excitement to their feuds with the latter. Whoever was unable to
establish a profitable feud of his own, united himself as an assistant
to another, and thus old comrades were often by the chapter of
accidents opposed, and then, in the full consciousness of doing their
duty, would beat and even stab each other.

This marauding life on the highways, in the woods and caverns, and with
drunken companions, was neither favourable to their family life nor to
their higher interests, nor was it even fitted to develop warlike
capacity except among the subordinates. At the best, it only formed
leaders of small bodies of mounted troopers for foraging expeditions
and surprises. Sickingen himself, the most skilful specimen of a Junker
of the sixteenth century, showed in his great and decisive feud, only
very moderate talents as a general; and the capacities of Götz, in a
military point of view, do not stand higher than those of an
experienced serjeant of hussars. Thus wild, vicious, and detrimental to
the community, was the conduct of even the quietest of the lower
nobility. Their being a privileged order whose members considered
themselves superior to citizen of peasant, who kept themselves apart
from others, in marriage, business, law, manners, and ceremonials, made
them for centuries weak, and their existence a misfortune to the
people; but at the same time it saved them from the ruin consequent
upon their disorderly life. On retrospect of the act itself, there is
little difference to be seen between the robber who now waylays the
wanderer on the lonely heath, and the country nobleman who about the
year 1500 dragged the Nuremberger merchant from his horse and kept him
in a dark prison upon bread and water, whilst the noble's wife made
coats and mantles out of the stolen cloth. But three hundred and fifty
years ago, the noble robber practised his evil deeds with the feeling,
that though his actions were perhaps contrary to the decrees of an
Imperial Diet, yet they were looked upon by the whole nobility of his
province, indeed by the highest sovereigns of the country, as pleasant
or at the worst as daring tricks. Certainly if he was caught by the
city whose citizens he had injured, he might possibly lose his life, as
does now a murderer on the high-road, but the law of the city was not
his law, and if he died, his death would probably be revenged by other
active comrades. However unreasonable were the laws of honour according
to which he lived, he felt that these same laws were honoured by
thousands whom he esteemed as the best upon earth. Thus it was
possible, that amidst the greatest immorality and perversity, many
manly virtues might be exhibited by individuals; fidelity to their
word, devotion to their friends, and kind-hearted friendliness even to
those whom they had robbed and imprisoned.

It was at this period, under the new Emperor Maximilian, that the
memorable attempt was begun, to give a new constitution to the
shattered body of the Empire, and with it the possibility of a new
life. More than a century elapsed and three generations passed away
before the lesser nobility could accustom themselves to the restraint
of the new laws; but the princes and cities, however much they might
quarrel together, had the greatest interest in enforcing obedience to
these laws. It is however worthy of note, that while losing a portion
of their wild straightforward resoluteness, they adopted the faults
more especially belonging to the new epoch. How the change gradually
took place, we will demonstrate here by a few examples.

A happy accident has preserved to us three autobiographies of
well-known German nobles of different periods of the 16th century,
those of Berlichingen, of Schärtlin, and of Schweinichen; one of them,
so long as the German language lasts, will be intimately associated
with the name of the greatest German poet. These three men, who
flourished in the beginning, the middle, and the end of this celebrated
century, were widely different in character and destiny, but all three
were landed proprietors, and each of them has recorded the events of
his life, so as to give an instructive insight into the social
condition of his circle. The best known is Götz von Berlichingen; his
memoirs were first published in 1731. The halo, with which three
hundred years after his death, Goethe's charming poem has invested him,
will make it difficult for the reader of his biography to separate the
ideal delineation of the poet from the figure of the historical Götz.
And yet this is necessary. For however modestly and lovingly Goethe has
portrayed his character, he appears quite different in history. When as
an old man, in a time to which he was a stranger, he wrote his life, he
loved to dwell on the knightly exploits of his wild youth. It was not
his line to enter into political questions; if he found himself in a
crisis he acted according to the advice of his patrons,--the great
sovereigns, who employed his strong arm and steadfast will for their
own objects. When the peasant army broke into his territories, he and
his kinsmen were utterly at a loss what to do, and wrote for advice.
The answer was suppressed by his mother-in-law and wife, and he was
left to his own judgment, and had not sufficient adroitness to withdraw
himself from the thronging insurgents. Had he been like many of his
cotemporaries, such as Max Stumpf, he would have abandoned the peasants
in spite of all his vows. But although not really faithful to them,
true to the letter of his word, he adhered to them till the four weeks
were passed, for which he had bound himself though he was not in fact
their leader but their prisoner. After that he lived some years in
close imprisonment, then for a long time in strict confinement at his
castle. He was surrounded by a new generation, engaged in vehement
strife, and he himself was grieving the while that he had acted in the
peasant struggle as an honourable knight, and that still true to his
word, he had even now to count the steps which he was allowed to take
beyond the gates of his castle. After sixteen years of solitary
seclusion he was in his old age twice called to take part in the
warfare of a younger race, which neither brought him adventures nor any
opportunity to acquire fame or booty. When at last he died in peace at
his Castle of Hornburg, at the age of eighty-two, Luther had been dead
sixteen years, and the Emperor Charles V. had been interred in a
cloister four years before; but the long period from the year 1525
occupies few pages in his autobiography, although it was written in the
last year of his life. There will be given here fragments from his
account of the Nuremberg feud.

                         Götz von Berlichingen.

"1512. Now I will not conceal from any one that I was desirous of
coming to blows with the Nurembergers; I revolved the thing in my mind,
and thought that I must pick a quarrel with the priest, the Bishop of
Bamberg, that I might bring the Nurembergers into play. I waylaid
ninety-five merchants who were under the safe conduct of the Bishop; I
was so kind that I did not seize any of their goods, except those
belonging to the Nurembergers; of these there were about thirty. I
attacked them on the Monday after Our Lord's Ascension-day, about eight
or nine in the morning, and rode along with them all Tuesday, that
night, and Wednesday: I had my good friend Hans von Selbitz with me,
and altogether our party amounted to thirty. But the other travellers
were numerous; these I drove away in small bodies to whatever places
they appeared to belong. My comrade, Hans von Selbitz, also an enemy of
the Bishop of Bamberg, about a fortnight afterwards burnt his castle
and a city, called, if I remember it rightly, Vilseck, so that this
affair bore double fruit.

"In order that every one may know why and wherefore I quarrelled with
and attacked the men of Nuremberg, I will state the causes. Fritz von
Littwach, a Margrave's page, with whom I had been brought up as a boy,
who had been my companion-in-arms, and who was very good to me, once
disappeared mysteriously in the neighbourhood of Onolzbach, being made
prisoner and carried off, so that for a long time no one knew where he
was or who had carried him away. Long afterwards, the Margrave caught a
man, who gave him and the knights accompanying him many true tidings.
Then it became known where Fritz von Littwach had been taken to; so I
begged and prayed of my patron and relation Herr Hans von Seckendorf,
who was the Margrave's majordomo, that he would procure me the
confession of the traitor. Thereby it was discovered that those in the
service of the Nurembergers had done the deed, and it might be assumed
that he had been taken to one of their houses or a public gaol. This
was one of my grounds of complaint against the Nurembergers.

"Further, I had hired a servant called Georg von Gaislingen, who had
promised to enter my service, but who had been, when with his Junker
Eustach von Lichtenstein, stabbed and severely wounded by the men of
Nuremberg; his Junker had been so likewise, but survived. Although many
others besides the Nurembergers were hostile to Fritz von Littwach, yet
I never perceived any one who had 'belled the cat,' as they say, or had
taken up the matter, except poor truehearted Götz von Berlichingen:
these are the grounds of offence that I have everywhere and in every
way notified and proved against the Nurembergers, every day in which I
have negotiated with them before the commissaries of his Imperial
Majesty, and also before the ecclesiastical and temporal princes.[62]

"I will now show further what happened to me and my relations in the
Nuremberg feud. The States of the Empire ordered out four hundred
horsemen against me, amongst whom were counts and lords, knights and
vassals; their challenges are still in existence. I and my brother were
put repeatedly under the ban of the Empire, and in certain cities the
priests and monks fulminated fire and flame at me from the pulpit, and
gave me up to be eaten by the birds of the air, and everything that we
had was taken from us, so that we could not possess a foot's breadth of
anything. There was no time for festivities; we were obliged to conceal
ourselves, and yet I was able to do my enemies some injury, both to
their possessions and otherwise, so that his Imperial Majesty several
times interposed and directed his commissaries to negotiate between us,
to regulate all things and bring about a reconciliation; thereby his
Imperial Majesty hindered many of my projects, and occasioned me more
than two hundred thousand gulden' worth of loss, for I intended to have
carried off both gold and money from the Nurembergers. It was my
project then, by God's help, to overthrow, beat, and imprison all the
Nuremberg soldiers, and even the burgomaster himself, who wore a large
gold chain about his neck, and held a mace in his hand, and also all
their horsemen and their standard bearer, when they were on their way
to Hohenkrähen; I was already prepared for it with horse and foot, so
that it was quite certain I should have got them into my hands. But
there were some good lords and friends of whom I took counsel, whether
I should on the appointed day appear before his Imperial Majesty, or
put my project in execution. Their true and faithful counsel was, that
I should honour his Imperial Majesty with a visit that day, which
counsel I followed to my great and evident loss.

"I knew when the Frankfort fair was to take place, when the
Nurembergers were to go on foot from Würzburg to Frankfort by the
Spessart. I made a reconnaissance and fell upon five or six; amongst
them there was a merchant whom I attacked for the third time, having in
half a year, twice made him prisoner and once deprived him of property;
the others were mere bale packers of Nuremberg: I made semblance as if
I would cut off their heads and hands, though I was not in earnest; but
they were obliged to kneel down and lay their heads upon a block; I
then gave one of them a kick behind, and a box on the ear to the
others: this was the way I punished them, and then let them go their
way. The merchant whom I had so frequently waylaid crossed himself and
said: 'I should sooner have thought that the heavens would fall in than
that you should have waylaid me to-day, for only some days ago, about a
hundred of our merchants were standing in the market-place of
Nuremberg, the talk turned upon you, and I heard that you were then in
the forests at Hagenschiess waylaying and seizing property.' I myself
wondered that in so short a time the rumour of my riding hither and
thither should have reached Nuremberg. Soon after, his Imperial Majesty
took the matter in hand, and arranged it at Würzburg."--Thus far Götz.

                       Schärtlin von Burtenbach.

Sebastian Schärtlin does not exactly belong to the same class. He was
not of noble origin, and had to thank his military talents for his
knighthood. He was born in the year 1498, and studied arms under
Fronsperg. From 1518 to 1557 he was actively employed in almost all the
military affairs of Germany, in the service of the Emperor, and in that
of the city of Augsburg. For a time also he served in the French army,
as on account of his participation in the Smalkaldic war he had been
obliged to leave Germany. He had more than once commanded large armies,
and was in great repute as a bold and experienced general; he is an
interesting contrast to Götz. The one the noble cavalier, the other the
citizen Landsknechte leader; Götz the jovial companion-at-arms,
Schärtlin the practical man of business. The lives of both were full of
adventures and not free from inexcusable deeds: both died at a great
age; but Götz dissipated his time and property in plundering
expeditions and knightly deeds, while Schärtlin helped to decide the
fate of Germany. Götz understood so little his own times and his
interest, that he, the aristocrat, allowed himself to be made use of by
the democratic peasants as a man of straw; Schärtlin understood his own
time so well, that after the unfortunate Smalkaldic war he withdrew
into Switzerland a rich man, and a few years afterwards was reinstated
triumphantly in all his honours. Götz had all his life a strong
hankering after the merchant's gold, yet after all his daring
plundering expeditions had but little in his coffers; Schärtlin made
money in all his campaigns, bought one property after another, and knew
how to command the highest price for his services. Both gave proof of
character and of party fidelity; both were honourable soldiers, and the
knightly consciences of both were according to our judgment too lax.
Götz, at whose want of prudence we sometimes smile, though fond of
booty, was yet in his way painfully conscientious; Schärtlin was the
cautious but agreeable egotist. All the good qualities of decaying
knighthood were united in the simple soul of the possessor of Hornburg,
whilst the Herr von Burtenbach was, on the contrary, thoroughly a son
of the new time; soldier, negotiator, and diplomat. Both were with the
Imperial army which invaded France in 1544; Schärtlin, in the prime of
life as a general, Götz as an old gray-headed knight with a small troop
of vassals: the same year Schärtlin was created Imperial Lord High
Steward and Captain General, and acquired seven thousand gulden. Götz
rode, ill and lonely, in the rear of the returning army back to his
castle. Both have written their lives in a firm soldier's hand; that of
Götz is less skilful and well arranged, but his biography will be read
with greater sympathy than that of Schärtlin: Götz takes pleasure in
relating his knightly adventures, as good comrades recall their
recollections of old times over a glass of good wine; Schärtlin gives a
perspicuous statement in chronological order, and favours the reader
with many dry but instructive details of great political transactions;
but respecting himself, he prefers giving an account of his gains and
his vexatious quarrels with his landed neighbours.

These quarrels, nevertheless, however uniform their course, claim the
greatest interest here; for it is precisely by them that we discover
how much the proceedings of the landed nobility had changed since the
beginning of the century. There is the same love of feuds, as in the
youthful days of the Berlichingen; deeds of violence still continue to
abound, and numerous duodecimo wars are planned; but the old feeling of
self-dependence is broken, the spirit of public tranquillity and of
courts of justice hovers over the disputants, neighbours and kind
friends interpose, and the lawless seldom defy the Imperial mandate or
the will of the reigning princes without punishment. Sudden surprises
and insidious devices take the place of open feuds; instead of the
cross-bow and sword, adversaries make use of not less destructive
weapons--calumny, bribery, and intrigues. Satirical songs had for a
century been paid for and listened to with pleasure, and the travelling
singers made themselves feared, as they ridiculed a niggardly host in
their songs at a hundred firesides.

Schärtlin relates as follows:--

"Anno 1557. In this year I, Sebastian Schärtlin, bought the territorial
domain of Hohenburg, together with Bissingen[63] and Hohenstein, from a
Bohemian Lord, Woldemar von Lobkowitz, and from Hans Stein, for
fifty-two thousand gulden, and took possession thereof in the presence
of my son and son-in-law, and many other nobles, on St. Matthew's day,
and received the homage of the vassals in the marketplace. The same
summer I restored the castle of Hohenstein, and so repaired it as to
enable one to reside there. Now about Michaelmas day my son went with
his wife and children, and took up his residence there; and prepared
rough and hewn stones, lime, and wood, for repairing the castle of
Bissingen; and in the winter he caused the well to be put in order; for
that purpose the neighbouring prelates gave me beautiful oak, and with
their horses and those of the city of Donauwörth, and by all the
neighbouring peasants the carting was done.

"The 18th September, 1560, Count Ludwig von Oettingen caused one of my
husbandmen of Reutmannshof to be carried prisoner to his office at
Harburg, where he was kept without bite or sup, because he and his sons
in defending themselves had had a quarrel with certain peasants of
Oettingen, who had opened his gate and forcibly driven over his land;
nevertheless no one had been hurt. On the Monday following, the Count,
with five hundred peasants and fifty horses, fell with a strong hand
upon my wood, where he had no territorial rights, caused my acorns to
be shaken down, and without notice or warning carried off by violence
women, children, and waggons belonging to me. When I arrived the same
day at Bissingen, and learned all this, I and my two sons, together
with our cousin Ludwig Schärtlin and Hans Rumpolt von Elrichshausen,
and a force of two-and-thirty horses, entered his domain, and close to
his castle of Harburg seized a peasant and two of his vassals, and
carried them prisoners to Bissingen. As his horsemen and archers had at
their pleasure passed close to Bissingen under my very nose, with great
parade and firing off of guns, so did I the like at Harburg with the
above-mentioned horsemen, in order to excite my adversary to a
skirmish, but no one would come out against us. Yet at last they shot
at us with blunderbusses. On the Thursday after, the Count rode to
Stuttgard for a shooting match, and as he knew well that I would not
give way to him, he spoke evil of me to their princely highnesses the
Elector and Count Palatine, and other counts and nobles, screening
himself so as to get me into disgrace and disfavour. Duke Christoph of
Würtemberg especially, who had previously been favourably disposed
towards me, recalled this year the pension of a hundred gulden which he
had given me. The Count had besides so excited his brother, Count
Friedrich, against me, that he also attacked me with violence.
Afterwards both Counts strengthened themselves with horse and foot,
against whom we brought into the castle of Bissingen a hundred good
experienced archers, and the concourse of troops on both sides was
great. The Counts had brought me and mine into ridicule with the
people, by songs and other poems, proverbs, and writings, and also with
His Imperial Majesty, the Electors and other princes, counts, and
lords. They accused me of being an exciter of tumults, and a
quarrelsome breaker of the public peace, and gave out everywhere that I
was their tenant, vassal, and dependent, who was doubly bound to them,
and had forgotten my feudal duty, and such-like lies, in the hope of
injuring me and mine by their falsehoods. Now whilst I was preparing
for being attacked, the Count Palatine, Duke Wolfgang, and Duke
Albrecht of Bavaria, being the nearest princes, interposed; they wrote
to both parties to keep the peace, and offered with Duke Christoph to
bring about an amicable negotiation, so that the prisoners on both
sides should be freed, and all the hired troops dismissed. This I was
willing to do; but as Count Ludwig von Oettingen--nicknamed Igel--the
Hedgehog--had begun all the mischief, I demanded that he should do it
first. But the Count would not give freedom to the people, but placed
Ratzebauer, who was my vassal alone, and owed neither fealty nor
allegiance to Oettingen, before the criminal court. To all eternity it
will not be shown that I and mine, by this purchase, became lawfully
vassals, for we bought Hohenburg and Bissingen, together with all that
appertains to them, as freehold properties, and as territorial domains
which are independent and have criminal jurisdiction. Yet the princes
would not leave the settlement to us, but gave us manifold admonitions
to be peaceable; so I dismissed my hired troops, and in this
transaction I well perceived that Duke Wolfgang, who before was my
gracious protector, had also fallen away, and had become inimical to
me. But in spite of all the princely mediations, Count Ludwig one
evening advanced with many horsemen and some hundred peasants against
the castle of Bissingen, and began a skirmish, with our horsemen of
whom some were in the field and others issued forth, in which none
received injury. As the enemy could do nothing, they returned again, a
laughing-stock to all.

"I brought all this business before the Supreme Court of Judicature,
and made complaint against Count Ludwig for his delinquencies against
me, hoping, as also happened, that I might bring this matter to a just
conclusion, though the princes showed such a party feeling.[64]
Meanwhile, Count Igel meanly cast odium upon my name everywhere by
printed writings and calumnious songs; and in the presence of the Count
von Mansfeld, erased from the armorial shield of my son Hans Bastian,
which was upon the Inn, the prefix 'Herr von Bissingen,' which
nevertheless had not been placed there by my son himself, but by the
landlord; and Count Friedrich caused his bailiff publicly to proclaim,
at the consecration of the church at Buchenhofen, that if one of the
Schärtlingers should go thither, every one should beat him.

"In the year 1561, Count Lothair von Oettingen came during Lent to
Augsburg; he sent many friendly words to me, as that he and his other
brothers were quite sorry that his brother Count Ludwig had treated me
in so unseemly a manner. Besides which, he complained to me of his
brother, that he would not give him his marriage settlement or any
residence; it therefore became necessary for him to behave hostilely
towards him, and he begged of me to yield him knightly service.
Thereupon I thanked him for his sympathy, and regretted that with him
also things did not go satisfactorily; but I let him know that there
was a truce between me and his brother, and that I was engaged with him
before the Supreme Court, that I did not willingly put my foot between
the hammer and the anvil, but that if otherwise he wanted any knightly
service, and would inform me of it, I would be his servant, and would
not refuse to furnish horse and armour.

"It was the custom annually at Bissingen to go on Holy Ascension Day to
a fair and dance that was held behind the castle, and there was also
shooting, whereat, this year, my son Hans Bastian gave his company.
Then Counts Ludwig and Friedrich sent the bailiff of Unter Bissingen,
together with other horsemen, to the fair, armed with five
blunderbusses. They placed themselves there, and wished to hold their
ground; my sons accosted them, asking why they placed themselves thus
armed. To whom the bailiff answered that his lords had sent him to
guard this place, and that the supremacy belonged to the Counts of
Oettingen; which my son gainsaid, as the parents of the Counts had sold
it, and it belonged to me, and he bid them take themselves off. Upon
this the bailiff rode away with these words, that he would soon return
after another fashion; and presently, from the footpath horsemen and
infantry were to be seen coming; whereupon my son sent certain servants
and vassals to the castle and the church tower, to await the enemy.
Suddenly the Count's people, numbering about forty horsemen and three
hundred foot, came riding and running at full speed, attacked my son,
and cousin Ludwig, and their sharpshooters and vassals with spears and
firearms, pressed quite up to the barrier of the fair, and closed the
gates by overpowering force. On the other hand my son and his followers
placed themselves on the defensive, fought them at close quarters, and
firing at them from the castle and towers, shot two of the Count's
horses and two of his men, one in the body and the other in the leg;
thus they kept them at bay, and at last put them to flight, but, thank
God! no misfortune happened to him or his. Afterwards, however, when my
son had entered the castle with his people, and was eating his supper
and taking no further heed, Count Lothar, that honourable man, who had
before said so many friendly things to me, returned about six o'clock,
and fired thirty shots at the castle with four powerful guns upon
wheels, and blew away full twelve bricks. About nine o'clock they
returned to Unter-Bissingen: both Counts strengthened themselves in the
night, and came again in the morning with many people. As my son and my
cousin Ludwig had no expectation of another attack, they came over to
me early in the morning; then the burgomaster and certain councillors
went out to the enemy and inquired what their intentions were, as there
was no one in the castle but women and children, they also said that
the domain was under process and Imperial neutrality. Thereupon the
bailiff from Harburg made reply that they had come yesterday and again
to-day with good and friendly intentions, to claim their lord's rights
of supremacy, but they had been fired at, whereby great damage had been
done to them. They desired to occupy the _Platz_ to-day, but if they
were fired at, it would be seen what they should do in return. Upon
this the people of Bissingen answered that they were poor people, and
whatever might be done would have to be answered for. Afterwards the
Count's people again advanced to the _Platz_, two hundred men strong
with four guns and a drum, and after performing certain dances, and
drinking, each one plucked a leaf from the linden trees; after this
defiance, and firing, they withdrew, leaving behind them an ambuscade
of two thousand men. All this I notified and complained of to his
Imperial Majesty and the Supreme Court; thereupon a mandate was sent to
both parties, that we should under pain of disgrace and outlawry not
molest each other any further, and together with this a summons to
appear before the court on the 20th of August, which were both
delivered to the Counts, who answered in a most unseemly way that it
was all a falsehood. I besides this protested against the injuries done
to me.

"On the aforesaid grounds, and because there was no end to their
hostile behaviour, and also as neither law nor right were of any avail,
I was compelled for the sake of mine honour and for protection against
the molestation of the two above-mentioned Counts, to send a statement
to His Imperial Majesty of the Roman Empire, to the Electors and
Princes, Counts and States of the Empire, and also to the five
divisions of nobility and the knighthood generally; I also made a like
statement by word of mouth to the estates of the country communes, and
fully apprised them and their governor, my worthy lord of Bavaria, of
whom I was appointed representative, and further the city of Augsburg,
whose vassal I am, of the whole transaction, and besought of them all,
counsel, help, or support. These addressed a threatening document to
the Counts, admonishing them to leave to me and mine, our rights, in
peace; adding that if they did not, they would not abandon me. At the
same time they recommended me to employ nothing but law. Now as so many
calumnious songs and sayings had been circulated concerning me, one to
whom I had perhaps done some good composed an admirable pasquinade and
song upon the Count _Igel_ von Harburg, and cut him up well.

"On the third of October, _Igel_, with fifteen hundred men, horse and
foot, amongst them certain Landsknechte, together with five pieces of
heavy artillery, advanced against my cousin Ludwig at Oberringingen,
having sent before him certain nobles to demand of him to give up his
house. But Ludwig Schärtlin had by my commands, two days before,
supplied himself with three Landsknechte, certain blunderbusses and
hand-guns of my son's at Bissingen, and with powder and shot. So he
awaited the storm, as he hoped for a father's reward from me for his
knightly truth and faith. He himself went out to these nobles, and
answered them with threatening words; if Count _Igel_ would come in a
neighbourly and friendly manner, like his brothers, he should partake
with him of his sour wine; but coming in such a fashion, he could not
open his house; he had a house for himself, and not for the Count of
Oettingen, and the Count would find he had to deal with a soldier. Each
party withdrew behind his defences, but the Count entrenched himself in
the outer court, and by the fire of his artillery destroyed the
battlements of the towers, all the windows, roofs, and chimneys, and
two persons. On the other hand, Ludwig Schärtlin defended himself
valiantly, shot the master-gunner of the Count's artillery and another
person, and wounded besides many of the soldiers, of whom some
afterwards died. Thus they fought from seven o'clock in the morning
till six in the evening. In the night Ludwig caused the Count great
alarm and disquiet; meanwhile he fortified himself, and again on the
morrow defended himself valiantly. But when I, Sebastian Schärtlin,
Knight, learned these things, I hastily sent on to Bissingen,
according to the advice of Count Albrecht of Bavaria, four hundred
soldiers, amongst them good marksmen from Augsburg, with powder and
shot, iron cramps, and good material of war. Then I scraped together
six-and-twenty thousand gulden, and provided helmets, powder and shot,
also certain waggons and guns from the city of Memmingen; a great troop
of Landsknechte and horsemen all appointed to be at Burtenbach on the
fourth, and I myself came there in the evening, after I had put
everything in motion. That same night, Count Wolf and Count Lothar came
to me at Burtenbach in a friendly way, and complained to me that their
brother, Count Ludwig, had also deprived them of their parental
inheritance, and they entreated me to unite myself with them. So we
made a written and sealed compact, that both the Counts and their
brother Friedrich, with his marksmen, and all their power of horse and
foot, should unite themselves with us, and I was to provide five
thousand vassals, or other horsemen, and bear the expense of the war.
But if I should restore the young Counts to their parental inheritance,
they should pay two thirds, and I one, of the war expenses. We hoped
Count _Igel_ would tarry before Oberringingen, and in case he conquered
it, would proceed to Bissingen to besiege my son. But the Count on the
fourth of October raised the siege, and withdrew himself disgracefully,
after he had laid waste and plundered my cousin's fore-court and whole
village, and carried off all the women and children: yet my cousin was
very near getting hold of one of his guns. When Count _Igel_ perceived
that we had come to an accommodation with his own brothers--Count
Friedrich excepted, who would not act either with or against him--he
fled the country, and went first to the Count Palatine, Duke Wolfgang,
and afterwards to Duke Christoph von Würtemberg, to whom he lied, and
told many monstrous stories; such as, that I, with the assistance of
His Imperial Majesty, the Kings of Bavaria, and city of Augsburg, and
the league of Landsberg, had endeavoured to drive him from his people
and country.

"Meanwhile I strengthened myself, and at the end of two days I
determined to make an expedition, and cross the Danube with a force of
seven thousand men, horse and foot. But as it had been perceived by the
two Princes, the Palatine, and Würtemberg, that the Count would be
driven away, and become a guest in their country, they both of them
advanced, the Duke of Würtemberg in person, with his horsemen and some
guns, with the intention of not allowing me to cross the Danube, or to
give me battle. The Palatine had before urged me extremely not to have
recourse to arms, as his Princely Grace could not consent to this
expedition of mine. His Imperial Majesty, and the Colonel of the
Suabian troops, had also enjoined me to keep the peace, whereto also
the Bavarian King and the city of Augsburg had repeatedly admonished
me, and had offered to accommodate these affairs by negotiation. So
with the loss of four thousand gulden, and in spite of my having been
plundered, and my cousin endangered, I consented to sheath my sword and
keep the peace, to come to an amicable agreement, and to fix a meeting
at Donauwörth. Negotiations were carried on there for a fortnight, and
brought to a conclusion by the arbitrators of Bavaria and the
Palatinate, to the effect that we should on both sides maintain peace,
and as there was no other hope of peace between us, and no better way
of settling matters, I should sell the property to the Count. This I
would not do, as I wished to have no transactions with the Count. Yet
at last I gave in so far, to the purport of the settled agreement, that
I would submit myself respectfully to both Princes, and give up the
supremacy of Hohenburg and Bissingen, on payment of sixty-two thousand
gulden; but not withdraw from it till I was paid the last penny in
peace and security."

Thus far Schärtlin. In spite of his complaints of loss, it may be
assumed that the sale, at least in a pecuniary point of view, was
advantageous to him, but certain it is, that it did not put an end to
his quarrels with the Count. For years they both continued to make
complaints before the Supreme Court of Justice and the Emperor; and to
make violent and mutual attacks on each other. At last the adversaries
were obliged to shake hands in presence of the Emperor.

                         Hans Von Schweinichen.

About the end of the sixteenth century the deeds of violence of the
noble landed proprietors were less barefaced and less frequent. Most of
them became peaceful Landjunkers, the ablest and poorest sought shelter
at the numerous courts. When Götz was young every Landjunker was a
soldier, for he was a knight, and the traditions of knighthood had
influence even in great wars. But it was just then that the great
change was preparing which made the infantry the nucleus of the new
army; from that time an experienced Landsknecht who had influence over
his comrades, or a burgher master-gunner, who understood how to direct
a carronade, was of more value to a general than a dozen undisciplined
Junkers with their retainers. The power of the princes had for the most
part, through the new art of war, mastered that of the lower nobility,
and had made the descendants of the free knights of the Empire,
chamberlains and attendants of the great dynasties. The new roads to
fortune were flattery and cringing. The old martial spirit was lost,
but the craving for excitement remained. The Germans had always been
hard drinkers; now drunkenness became the most prominent vice in those
provinces where the vine was not cultivated. Ruined property,
prodigious debts, and insupportable lawsuits disturbed the few sober
hours of the day. The sons of the country nobility attended Latin
schools and the University, but the number of those who pursued a
regular course of study was small, for even throughout the whole of the
next century the higher offices of the state which required knowledge
and skill in business, as well as the most important posts as
ambassadors, were generally filled by burghers, and whilst the nobility
seemed only capable of holding the higher court appointments, it was
generally found necessary to send the son of a shoemaker, or of a
village pastor, to a foreign court as the representative of sovereign
dignity, and to make the noble courtier his subordinate travelling
chamberlain. Thus the country nobility continued to vegetate--sometimes
struggling against the new times, at others serving obsequiously, till,
in the Thirty years' war, those of superior character were drawn into
the violent struggle, and the weaker sank still lower.

Hans von Schweinichen lived during this period of transition, which was
about the end of the sixteenth century; he was a Silesian nobleman of
old family, groom of the bedchamber, chamberlain, and factotum of the
Quixotic Duke Heinrich XI. of Liegnitz. We see the characters of both,
in juxta-position in two biographies written by Schweinichen. One is
the account of his own life, 'Life and Adventures of the Silesian
Knight, Hans von Schweinichen, published by Büsching, three parts,
1820;' the other an extract from it, with some alterations and
additions: 'The Life of Duke Heinrich XI., published in Stenzel;
Script. Rer. Siles. iv.,' both, works of great value as a history of
the manners of the sixteenth century.

The old royal house of Silesian Piastens produced, with a few
exceptions, a set of wild, wrong-headed rulers, with great pretensions
and small powers.

One of the most remarkable among them is Heinrich XI. von Liegnitz, the
dissolute son of a worthless father. When the latter, Duke Friedrich
III. was deposed by the Imperial commissioners in the year 1559, and
put under arrest as a disturber of the community, the government of the
principality devolved upon his son, then twenty years of age. After ten
years of misrule he quarrelled with his brother Friedrich and his
nobility, and in a fit of despotic humour caused the States of the
duchy to be all imprisoned. Whilst the indignant members were appealing
against him to the Emperor, he himself undertook an adventurous
expedition through Germany, making the round of numerous courts and
towns as a beggar, during which, the lack of money plunged him into one
embarrassment after another, and led him into every kind of unworthy
action. Meanwhile he was suspended, and his brother, who was not much
better, was established as administrator. Heinrich complained
querulously, undertook a new begging expedition to the German courts,
and at last made his solicitations to the Emperor at Prague; he was
still under the severe pressure of pecuniary embarrassments, but
finally succeeded in obtaining the restoration of his duchy. Now
followed fresh recklessness and open opposition to the Imperial
commissary, a new deposition and strict imprisonment at Breslau. From
this imprisonment he escaped and wandered about in foreign parts as a
friendless adventurer; he offered his services to Queen Elizabeth of
England in her war with Philip of Spain; and at last went to Poland to
fight against Austria. He died suddenly at Cracow in 1586, probably of

If in his shatterbrained character there was anything out of the common
way, it was his being entirely devoid of all one is accustomed to
consider as honourable and conscientious. He had not the frivolity of
his courtiers who cast off all reflection, but he entirely lacked all
moral feeling. Being a prince, this recklessness for a long time
answered, for with a pleasing facility he slipped out of all
difficulties, and with a smile or dignified surprise, made his way out
of positions that would have brought burning blushes to the cheeks of
most others. It was indifferent to him how he obtained money; when in
distress he wrote begging letters to all the world, even to the Romish
Legate, though himself a Protestant; from every court and city which he
visited, and where according to the custom of those times he was
entertained, he endeavoured to borrow money. Generally the host, taken
by surprise, came to terms with Schweinichen, and instead of the loan,
a small travelling fee was given, with which the Prince was content. He
had a wife, an insignificant woman, whom he was sometimes compelled to
take with him; she had also to make shift and contract debts like him,
and after having forced herself on the hospitality of the rich Bohemian
nobles, she sought for loans through Schweinichen, and received their
courtly refusals with princely demeanour. All this would be simply
contemptible if there was not something original in it, as Duke
Heinrich, in spite of all, had a strong feeling of the princely dignity
which he so often disgraced, and was as far as outward appearance was
concerned a distinguished man. Not only with his Schweinichen, but also
in the courts of foreign princes, indeed even in social intercourse
with the Emperor, he was according to the ideas of those times an
agreeable companion, well skilled in knightly pursuits, always good
humoured, amused with every joke made by others, quick at repartee, and
in serious things he appeared really eloquent. In some matters also he
showed in his actions traces of a manly understanding. However unseemly
his tyrannical conduct, as Duke, towards his States, however strange
his open resistance to the Imperial power, and however childish his
hope of becoming elective King of Poland, yet the foundation of all
this was the abiding feeling that his noble origin gave him the right
to aspire to the highest position. He was always engrossed with
political interests and plans. Nothing ever prospered to him, for he
was unstable, reckless, and not to be trusted, but his aims were always
great, either a king's throne or a field-marshal's staff. It was this,
and not his drunken follies, that cast him down from his throne, and at
last into the grave. On one other point he was steadfast,--he was a
Protestant; although he did not hesitate a moment to demand loans of
his Catholic opponents in the most shameless way; yet when the Papal
Legate promised him a considerable revenue, and indeed his
reinstatement in his principality if he would become a Roman Catholic,
he rejected this proposal with contempt. If he engaged himself as a
soldier, it was by preference against the Hapsburgers. Such a
personage, with his freedom from all principle, his complete
recklessness, his impracticable and at the same time elastic character,
and his mind filled with the highest projects, appears to us as a
representative of the dark side which is developed in the Sclavonic

Other princes of his race, above all his brother Friedrich, are
epitomes of the faults of the German character. Mean, egotistic,
narrow-minded, and suspicious, without decision or energy, Duke
Friedrich was his perfect opposite.

Another contrast is to be found in his biographer and companion, the
Junker Hans von Schweinichen. This comical madcap was a thorough German
Silesian. When a boy, as page of the imprisoned Duke Friedrich, and as
whipping-boy of the son, he had early made a thorough acquaintance with
the wild proceedings of the Liegnitzer court, and been initiated into
all its intrigues. His father, a landed proprietor, had fallen into
debt in consequence of having once become security for Duke Heinrich.
Schweinichen was co-heir to a deeply involved property, and up to an
advanced age was engaged in endless quarrels with the creditors, and
also with his relations, who had been surety for him, and for whom he
had been surety. This was indeed, towards the end of the sixteenth
century, the usual lot of landed proprietors. But besides this, he for
many years joined in all the mad pranks of his princely master, which
were for the most part rather of a lax nature, so he came in for no
unimportant share of these frivolous proceedings. The moral cultivation
of those times was undoubtedly on the whole much lower than that of
ours, and he must only be judged by the standard of his own time. He
was no man of the sword, and his valour was tempered by a strong degree
of caution. Always in good humour, and at the same time crafty,
furnished with great powers of persuasion, he contrived to glide like
an eel through the most difficult situations with the open bearing of
an honest man, and the most good humoured countenance in the world.
Even when most dissolute he still clung to the hope of redeeming the
future, and whilst living as a wild courtier, he considered himself as
an honourable country nobleman, who had to preserve the good opinion of
his fellows. He had always a small degree of conscientiousness in
domestic matters; his was not however a burdensome or strict
conscience, and demanded only occasional obedience. He valued himself
not a little, and gradually began to take less pleasure in his master's
vagaries. The endless changes, the quarrels with Jews and Christians,
and the anxieties about the daily wine, made this life at last too
irregular for him; he had always kept a diary of his own life, and
seldom forgot to note down that on the previous evening he had been
tipsy: at the end of each year's diary, which sometimes contained
nothing but a succession of convivial parties and discreditable money
transactions, he would commend his soul to God, and after that, note
the price of corn in the last year. All that he had mortgaged for his
lord we find marked down in his diary with a statement, as precise as
superfluous, of the real worth in silver. After he had thus pretty
nearly mortgaged everything, he experienced the heartfelt grief of
seeing his Duke in the Imperial prison, there he parted with him, not
without grief, as one parts from the friend of one's youth; but his
German understanding told him that this parting was fortunate for
himself. Then followed years in which he drank with his neighbours,
reconciled himself with Duke Friedrich, to whom he even became
chamberlain, married, leased a small property, and half as landlord,
half as courtier, lived respectably like others. Afterwards, when
another prince ruled the country, Schweinichen became a royal
councillor, and an active member of the government; he had the gout,
lost his wife and married another. He still continued to move
restlessly about the country, adjusted the differences of the noblemen
and peasants, occasionally got tipsy with good comrades, discharged
debts, acquired landed property, increased in respectability as in age,
and died highly esteemed. His escutcheon, emblazoned with eight
quarterings, shone conspicuously upon the black mourning horses at his
funeral, as it had done when arranged by himself for his deceased
father; his effigy was cut in stone upon his tomb in the village
church, and his banner hung above it, whilst the coffin of his unhappy
prince was still above ground unconsecrated, walled up in a ruined
chapel by zealous monks, as that of a heretic.

The following episode is taken from the biography of Schweinichen. It
occurred in 1578, the time in which Duke Heinrich was suspended in his
government by Imperial mandate and lived in Hainau on a fixed income
under the sovereignty of his younger brother. Schweinichen was then
six-and-twenty; Schärtlin had died two months before at the advanced
age of eighty-two.

"Duke Heinrich found that it was no longer possible to hold a court in
Hainau, and notified to his Imperial Majesty, that as Duke Friedrich
would no longer give him an allowance, his Princely Grace would take it
himself where he could. To this the Emperor gave no answer, but allowed
things to take their course, as neither party would conform to his
Imperial Majesty's commands, 'as the one prince broke jugs and the
other pitchers.' Now his Princely Grace knew that the States had a
great store of corn at Gröditzberg, so the Duke took counsel with me
how he should capture Gröditzberg, and there keep house till he learned
the Imperial determination. I could by no means approve of this affair
nor give counsel thereto, for many serious reasons which I laid before
his Princely Grace's consideration. For his Imperial Majesty would
interpret it as a breach of the peace, and his Princely Grace would
thereby make matters worse rather than better. Because I thus discussed
it with the Duke, his Princely Grace was ill-content with me, and said
I was good for nothing in such affairs; for he had in his own mind,
determined to march out and try whether he could not take the fortress;
so he commanded me to prepare twelve troopers, and to tell the Junkers
that they were to ride with him, yet not to inform them where his
Princely Grace was going.

"Although I still continued to entreat of his Princely Grace not to do
this, as he would bring the whole country upon him, and I therefore
wished to dissuade him from it, yet I could not prevail with him, but
he went forth, and commanded me meanwhile not to move from the house at
Hainau till he called me away. But if his Princely Grace should capture
the fortress in the night, he would immediately send back a mounted
messenger, and if I heard a shot I should at once admit him, and obey
the commands that he brought. Thus my lord marched from Hainau the 18th
of August, about two o'clock, to Gröditzberg. When his Princely Grace
came into the wood under the hill, he sent up two horsemen as if to
examine the place; these were to bring information who were there, and
if they found that my lord could advance, they were to fire a shot. As
they found only two men there, they fired the shot. His Princely Grace
speedily rode up, took the castle, and about three o'clock in the
night, according to agreement, sent a mounted messenger to me. Now when
I heard the shot before the door at Hainau, I was greatly terrified,
and said to those who were with me in the room: 'This shot will rouse
all the country against my lord.' They did not understand this, but
suspected that my lord had carried off Duke Friedrich. I forthwith
ordered the gates of the castle to be opened. His Princely Grace had
sent me notice through Ulrich Rausch, that he had taken possession of
Gröditzberg and did not think of returning; but to send forthwith up to
that place, his remaining horses, servants, and other things.

"Two days afterwards, two Polish lords, Johann and Georg
Rasserschafsky, announced themselves as visitors to his Princely Grace
at Hainau, of which I speedily informed the Duke, and inquired what I
should do. Thereupon his Princely Grace replied, that I should receive
and entertain them a few days at Hainau; and he sent me six dollars for
the charges. As the Polish lords had sixteen horsemen with them, the
whole six dollars went for wine at the first sitting; so I had to
consider how with care and by borrowing I might provide for those lords
who were to abide there for a fortnight. Thereupon my lord wrote to me
to bring them to Gröditzberg, and to accompany them myself. There the
Duke had already established a guard of twenty men, armed with long
carabines, having become a warrior; and at the reception of the two
lords, caused six trumpets and kettledrums to be sounded. As soon as I
came up to the castle, his Princely Grace charged me with the care of
the household.

"His Princely Grace wished to have the house supplied with provisions,
and commanded me to get in a store of four-and-twenty malters of flour,
which I did; and I also bought at his desire, eight malters of salt.
The enormous piles of preserved mushrooms and bilberries is not to be
told; great vats full, whereby much money was wasted. Twelve pigs also
were fattened at the castle upon corn alone, and the Duke himself was
wont to feed them. Everything was prepared for the siege of the castle.
Now there were carriers at Modelsdorf who had to convey lead from
Breslau to Leipzig; when therefore his Princely Grace learnt this, he
commanded that two carriers should bring this lead up to the castle,
the value of which amounted to more than two hundred and fifty thalers.
It was conveyed into the house and remained lying there. The merchants
hearing this, complained to the Bishop, who called upon my lord to
deliver up the lead forthwith; this, however, his Princely Grace would
not do, but offered some day to pay for the lead from his allowance. In
the end it remained unpaid; and the carriers got into great trouble on
this account. Then Bishop Martin[65] sent commissaries to Gröditzberg;
and his Princely Grace kept them two days with him and gave them good
entertainment, but allowed them to depart again with the affair

"Meanwhile Frau von Herrnsdorf invited me to a wedding; without doubt
to please her daughter, to whom I was not averse, and whom I was
courting. I therefore asked his Princely Grace for leave of absence,
and also to lend me three horses, which he did most willingly; and as
his servants were just then being newly dressed in gray cloth, I
requested that those who were to accompany me might be clothed first. I
then had my sword and dagger sharpened, and adorned myself as I best
could. Thus I rode with three horsemen to Herrnsdorf, where the young
lady received me with great pleasure. I helped to fetch the bride to
Herrnsdorf, making my appearance with my trumpeter. We continued
together after the wedding till the Saturday, full of jollity; and
although I was in the mean time recalled by the Duke, I remained late,
that it might not be perceived that I had the Duke's horsemen. On
Saturday, however, I rode forth again, and when I arrived at
Gröditzberg, I desired the trumpeter to blow; but when I dismounted at
the castle, a good friend of mine came and informed me that his
Princely Grace was very angry with me, and had sworn that he would put
me in arrest in one of the rooms in the courtyard: I did not, however,
trouble myself about it, but entered the castle so that my lord might
see me from the corridor. Now his Princely Grace had some Polish guests
with him; but there was no provision either in kitchen or cellar; so
for more than an hour after the trumpeter had summoned to table, there
was nothing served up. His Princely Grace sent to me to desire that I
would cause dinner to be served up, and would be in attendance. In
answer, I let the Duke know that I had learned his Princely Grace was
angry with me; I had therefore hesitated to appear before him, but when
his Princely Grace should hear the cause of my prolonged absence he
would be well content. But the Duke returned for answer, that I must be
in attendance; that he already knew the cause of my prolonged absence,
that I loved the maiden better than him. When therefore, at table, I
presented the water to his Princely Grace, he looked very sour, but I
pretended not to perceive it. His Princely Grace began a carouse, but
when it was at its highest, the wine failed. Thereupon his Princely
Grace sent to inform me that there was no more wine, and that I had
brought him to shame by not returning at the right time. I returned for
answer to the Duke that it was no fault of mine; and why had not his
Princely Grace sent for wine in proper time? Then his Princely Grace
informed me he had no money, but that I was to send quickly for some

"I desired then to be informed what I was to do, adding that if he was
angry with me, he should tell me so himself. I had meanwhile a little
cask of wine, containing about six firkins, lying concealed in the
cellar. When a glass of this wine was poured out for the Duke, he cried
out, 'My steward, I drink to you on your return!' called me to him, and
said, 'I have been very angry with you, but it is now past; see to it
that you get me provisions, and above all, wine.' I answered, 'Your
Princely Grace may now be merry; there will be no lack of wine; other
things also shall not be wanting; but your Princely Grace had no cause
to look so askance at me, for I had been with a fair lady whom you
would gladly have seen.' Whereupon the Duke said, 'I like you, and am
well pleased with you; I was sure that you would have something in
store.' So we became again master and servant, and all ungraciousness
was at an end; and thus after my gaieties I was obliged to return to my
cares, and consider how I could provide for the kitchen and cellar,
which, after my pleasuring, was very distasteful to me. I learnt from
various sources that endeavours had been made to blacken my character
with the Duke, by representing me as a traitor, and as having dealings
with Duke Friedrich, with whom I had made so long a stay; which was not
the case, as I was too honourable to do the like. But it is usual to
find many backbiters at princes' courts. I was desirous to learn from
the Duke who my detractor was; but his Princely Grace would not tell
me, and answered that he had not believed it.

"As the supply of corn and other things were nearly at an end, and
there was nothing more in store, I was obliged to seek after
provisions. Now Heinrich Schweinichen von Thomaswaldau had a number of
old sheep which no one else would buy, and I could not buy any other
cattle for want of money, as we had none; so his Grace bade me to
traffic with my cousin for the old sheep, and I made a bargain with him
to pay twenty silver groschen apiece for the sheep, and there were
three hundred and twenty-five of them. But when we had agreed upon the
bargain, he would not deliver them to me without receiving either money
or security, and he would not take me as surety; so I had to return to
my lord to inform him of this, and he was sore displeased that no one
would trust him. He wrote a letter, therefore, with his own hands to
Schweinichen, desiring that he would deliver the sheep according to the
agreement. But it could not be arranged, and Schweinichen excused
himself. This irritated the Duke still more; and as we had nothing but
mushrooms and bilberries to eat, his Princely Grace desired me to think
of some means of giving security. As I had before asked for a loan of
three hundred thalers for his Princely Grace from the council at
Löwenberg, and had received fair promises, I went again to the
councillors, and begged of them to settle the affair; but they refused.
I persevered, and at last they consented to be security for the sheep,
provided I were responsible for any damage or loss. This, however, I
objected to, but begged that they would trust his Princely Grace, for
they should not be the worse for it. So I persuaded the council to
become security with their seal to the old higgler for half a year, and
we obtained provision again from the old sheep. These were frequently
dressed in eight different ways, also the mushrooms in three different
ways, and the bilberries in two ways. With this his Princely Grace and
we all were obliged to be content, and to drink bad Goldberger beer.
Meanwhile autumn drew on, and we were able to obtain birds. But when I
went to set gins in the wood, I had great difficulty with the retinue,
who all wished to scour the wood and get birds for themselves. Although
his Princely Grace himself forbad it, no one would desist therefrom, so
that I was obliged to put the Junkers under arrest in the room in the
courtyard, and the common people in the tower. I became thereby very
unpopular, yet it could not be helped. His Princely Grace went every
morning himself to catch birds, and that was also my pastime. Otherwise
the time passed very tediously; although I had not much rest, as I had
to procure provisions, which was a source of great trouble to me.

"Now his Princely Grace perceiving that it was difficult for him to
maintain himself at the Gröditzberg, and that no allowance could be
obtained from Duke Friedrich, hearing likewise that the Arnsdorf pond
had been fished at an earlier period than heretofore, and that when
drawn, a certain quantity of carp had been caught and placed in
reservoirs, he ordered me to provide some waggons, and rode himself
with fifteen horsemen to Arnsdorf. As it was almost evening, and there
was no one near the reservoir but the pond watchman, his Princely Grace
had a large number of the fish taken out, as many as the five waggons
could carry, and returned therewith to Gröditzberg.

"Whilst the Duke was having the waggons loaded with fish, the alarm was
given at Liegnitz; thereupon the Burgrave Kessel and Hans Tschammer,
the master of the horse, galloped off with five horsemen, to prevent
any fish from being carried away; but they were too late, for the
greater part of the waggons laden with fish were gone, besides which,
they perceived that his Princely Grace was there in person, and
stronger than themselves. His Princely Grace did not give them a kind
greeting, but gave Kessel a blow on the back, saying, that if he
allowed a word to pass his lips that was not seemly, he should be his
prisoner, and would find that the Duke would treat him as a rebel. So
these five were obliged to let the matter pass, and thank God that they
had got so well out of it.

"On the following day the pond was again to be drawn for fish, and Duke
Friedrich expected that Duke Heinrich would return and seize more of
them; so he proceeded thither himself, taking with him five-and-twenty
horsemen, and likewise fifty arquebusiers, who were concealed among the
bushes under the bank. His Princely Grace however remained at home, but
sent me and a foreigner, Hans Fuchs, a captain of Landsknechts,
together with six horsemen to Arnsdorf, with directions to greet Duke
Friedrich kindly, and say that my lord had been compelled by necessity
to carry off the fish on the preceding day, and he begged he would not
take it amiss; that Duke Friedrich was to consider it as the provision
due to him, and his Princely Grace entreated him in a friendly way to
send him yet another supply of fish for provision.

"But Duke Friedrich looked black, knit his brows, and answered thus:
'As for this greeting of his Princely Grace, if he sent it with a true
brother's heart, he thanked him for it; but two days ago the fish had
been carried off from the reservoir, which greatly annoyed him, and if
he had come there in person no good would have arisen from it.' He was
quite unfriendly, and said that no more fish should be sent, and if an
attempt should be made to take them away by force, he would guard them.
Thus I departed from Duke Friedrich, and asked Kessel for a dish of
fish, as we wished to breakfast at Perschdorf, whereupon Duke Friedrich
ordered them to give me what I wanted.

"Now when I came with such an answer to my lord, he was sore
displeased, and made all kinds of projects, and wished to take the fish
by force. Meanwhile there came intelligence that Duke Friedrich was
again going to fish the next day, and would have a guard with him. Then
my lord said to me: 'Hans, we'll have some sport; reckon how many
horsemen we can muster; we will go and frighten Duke Friedrich a little
at the Arnsdorf pond.' But I would not consent to this, and objected to
any such plan, as their hearts would have been much embittered thereby
towards each other. Duke Friedrich had also many Poles, servants of the
nobility, with him, and they were powerful. His Princely Grace however
would not give it up, but promised me he would not speak an angry word
to any one, and I should see how he would drive away Duke Friedrich and
his followers; thereupon I made a reckoning, and found that we could
bring together a force of nineteen horsemen, three trumpeters, six
arquebusiers, and two lackeys, wherewith Duke Heinrich was well
content, and commanded me to take with us one waggon with fish barrels,
as Duke Friedrich would not be so uncourteous as to refuse to present
us with some fish.

"Early in the morning his Princely Grace left his castle for
Perschdorf. There he received information that Duke Friedrich had gone
in a little boat on the pond. On hearing this, his Princely Grace said
to me: 'Hans, now is the time, advance.' Now Duke Friedrich had placed
a sentinel at the end of the dam, who as soon as he observed anything,
was to fire a shot as a signal. As soon therefore as this shot was
fired by the Duke's sentinel, I caused one of the trumpeters to blow,
and then another, and afterwards all three together. Then, as I was
afterwards told, a great tumult arose, and Duke Friedrich and his
attendants called out for their armour, and Duke Friedrich was in so
great terror on the pond, that they could hardly prevent his fainting.
At last he sprang out of the boat and waded in the mud, so that he lost
his breath. When the arquebusiers whom Duke Friedrich had with him,
heard the trumpeters, they ran among the bushes on the meadow; so that
there was no one to be seen when he called for his guard, and some
shots that fell on the lappets of Duke Friedrich's coat, and on his
steed, were the only answer, and he made off to Liegnitz with all
speed. As soon as the others saw that their lord was riding away, they
followed his example, and only nine horsemen remained by the
reservoirs; among them Leuthold von der Saale, Balthasar Rostitz, and
Muschelwitz. So when his Princely Grace approached them, they took off
their hats, and my lord greeted them graciously, and inquired where
their master was; to which they replied that they did not know.
Whereupon my lord replied, that he had not come as an enemy, but as a
brother, and added: 'I have brought with me a fish-barrel, hoping that
my brother would hold friendly intercourse with me, and not be
uncourteous, but make me a present of a dish of fish. And as I am
expecting foreign guests, I will take twenty large pike, sixty of round
pike, and a score of large carp.' Those who were to have fished
withdrew, and von Saale protested that his Princely Grace should not
take away the fish. My lord, however, did not enter into parley about
it, but compelled the peasants who had run away to descend to the
reservoir and catch the fish. And his Princely Grace packed the fish
himself in the barrel, and commanded the Junkers to tell Duke Friedrich
that he should not have fled from him and his troopers, as he had come
with friendly intentions; but it was clear that a bad conscience could
not conceal itself. Also that Duke Friedrich might come the next
morning and help him eat the fish; and he added: 'But if your Lord will
not come, do so yourselves if you are honest men, and be not afraid as
you have been to-day.' After this his Princely Grace said to me: 'Hans,
did I not tell you beforehand that I would drive away my brother? Are
you content? I will in like manner drive him from Liegnitz, you will
see: it will not take long.' Thus we returned to Gröditzberg in good

Thus far Schweinichen. The reader will have no difficulty in
discovering that no one thought of attacking the Duke in his castle.
When winter drew on he himself became weary of this caprice, and
determined to make another expedition through Germany, which
Schweinichen very wisely opposed, but for which he afterwards exerted
his wits to procure money.

In the year 1675, a century after Duke Heinrich and his faithful Hans
had undertaken their first wild expedition through Germany, there
appeared in Silesia on the great heath of Kolzenau, which since the war
had lain waste and desolate, a strange and monstrous animal, such as in
the grim time of yore had rent the Silesian thickets with its horns,
when the first Piastens ranged through the woods with the hunting-spear
and arrow. And above in the royal castle at Liegnitz, the last Piasten
Duke, the young Georg Friedrich celebrated his birthday with his
nobles. As the rare venison was placed on his table, the joyful sounds
of the trumpet rang through the city, and the cannons thundered as
often as the health of the new Duke was drunk. But thoughtful people in
the country, trembled on account of the wild monster that had come into
their woods and to their young lord, as an ill omen from the olden
time; and they shook their heads and prophesied misfortune. The last
elk that was slain in Silesia was for the last joyous repast of the
last of the Piasten. A few days after he died; and when his coffin was
borne in the evening through the streets of Liegnitz, pitch wreaths
were burnt at every corner, and hundreds of boys dressed in black,
carried white wax tapers before their deceased lord. The German
Silesians grieved over the fall of the great Sclavonic dynasty, which
had once led their fathers into this land, and had first shown through
them to the world, that the union of men in a free community is more
beneficial to a country, than despotic government over slaves. But this
truth had afforded no safeguard for the lives of the lords of this

                              CHAPTER XII.

                           SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

The phantasies of the human mind have also a history; they form and
develop themselves with the character of a people whilst they influence
it. In the century of the Reformation, these phantasies had more weight
than most earthly realities. It is the dark side of German development
which we there see, and to it is due the last place in the
characteristic features of the period of the Reformation.

In the most ancient of the Jewish records there is no mention of the
devil except in the book of Job; but at the time of Christ, Satan was
considered by the Jews as the great tempter of mankind, and as having
the power to enter into men and animals, out of which he could be
driven by the invocations of pious men. The people estimated the power
of their teachers by the authority that they exercised over the devil.
When the Christian faith spread over the western empire, the Greek and
Roman gods were looked upon as allies of the devil, and the
superstition of many who yet clung to the later worship of Rome, made
the devil the centre of their mythology.

But the conceptions which the Fathers of the Church had of the person
and power of the devil, were still more changed when the German tribes
overthrew the government of the Roman empire and adopted Christianity.
In doing so this family of people did not lose the fullness of their
own life, the highest manifestation of which was their old mythology.
It is true that the names of the old gods gradually died away; what was
obviously contrary to the new faith was at last set aside by the zeal
of the priests, by force, and by pious artifices; but innumerable
familiar shapes and figures, customs and ideas, were kept alive, nay,
they not only were kept alive, but they entwined themselves in a
peculiar manner with Christianity. As Christian churches were erected
on the very spots where the heathen worship had been held, and as the
figure of the crucified Saviour, or the name of an apostle was attached
to sacred places like Donar's oak; thus the Christian saints and their
traditions took the place of the old gods. The people transferred their
recollections of their ancient heathen deities to the saints and
apostles of the Church, and even to Christ himself, and as there was a
realm in their mythology which was ruled by the mysterious powers of
darkness, this was assigned to the devil. The name devil, derived from
the Greek (diabolos), was changed into Fol, from the northern god
Voland, his ravens and the raging nightly host were transferred to him
from Wuotan, his hammer from Donar; but his black colour, his wolves or
goat's form, his grandmother, the chains wherewith he was bound, and
many other traditions, he inherited from the evil powers of heathendom
which had ever been inimical to the benevolent ruling gods. These
powerful demons, amongst whom was the dark god of death, belonged
according to the heathen mythology to the primeval race of giants,
which as long as the world lasted were to wage a deadly struggle with
the powers of light. They formed a dark realm of shapeless primordial
powers, where the deepest science of magic was cultivated. To them
belonged the sea-serpent, which coiled round the earth in mighty
circles, lay at the bottom of the ocean, the giant wolves which lay
fettered in the interior of the earth or pursued the sun and moon, by
which, at the last day, they were to be destroyed; the ice demons which
from the north sent over the land snow-storms and devastating floods;
and worse than all, the fiendish Helia, goddess of the dead. Besides
the worship of the _Asengötter_, there was in heathen Germany a gloomy
service for these demons, and we learn from early Christian witnesses
that even before the introduction of Christianity, the priestesses and
sorcerers of these dark deities were feared and hated. They were able
by their incantations to the goddess of death, to bring storms upon the
corn-fields and to destroy the cattle, and it was probably they who
were supposed to make the bodies and weapons of warriors invulnerable.
They carried on this worship by night, and sacrificed mysterious
animals to the goddess of death and to the race of giants. It was these
priestesses more especially--so at least we may conclude--who, as
_Hazusen_ or _Hegissen_, or _Hexen_ (witches), were handed down by
tradition to a late period in the middle ages.

The remembrance of these heathen beings became mixed with a wild chaos
of foreign superstitions, which had been brought from all the nations
of antiquity into heathen Rome, that great nursery of every
superstition, and from that ancient world had penetrated into
Christianity. The _Strigen_ and _Lamien_, evil spirits of ancient Rome,
which like vampires consumed the inward life of men, sorceresses who
flew through the air, and assembled nightly to celebrate disgraceful
orgies, were also handed down to the Germans, who mingled them with
similar conceptions, having perhaps a like origin. It is not always
possible to discover which of these notions were originally German or
which were derived from other nations.

The western Church in the beginning of the middle ages kept itself pure
from this chaos of gloomy conceptions; it condemned them as devilish,
but punished them on the whole with mildness and humanity, when they
did not lead to social crimes. But when the Church itself was frozen
into the rigidity of a hierarchical system, when strong hearts were
driven into heresy by the worldly claims of the papacy, and the people
became degraded under the nomination of begging monks, these
superstitions gradually produced in the Church a narrow-minded system.
Whatever was considered to be connected with the devil was put an end
to by bloody persecution. After the thirteenth century, about the
period when great masses of the people poured into the Sclave countries
from the interior of Germany, fanatical monks disseminated the odious
notion that the devil, as ruler of the witches, held intercourse with
them at nightly meetings, and that there was a formal ritual for the
worship of Satan, by accursed men and women, who had abjured the
Christian faith; and for this a countless number of suspected persons,
in France, in the first instance, were punished with torture and the
stake, by delegated inquisitors. In Germany itself, these persecutions
of the devil's associates first became prevalent after the funeral pile
of Huss. The more vehement the opposition of reason to these
persecutions, the more violent became the fury of the Church. After the
fatal bull of Innocent VIII., from the year 1484, the burning of
witches in masses began to a great extent in Germany, and continued,
with some interruptions, till late in the eighteenth century. Whoever
owned to being a witch was considered for ever doomed to hell, and the
Church hardly made an effort to convert them.

According to popular belief, the connection of man with the devil was
of three kinds. Either they renounced the worship of God for that of
the devil, swearing allegiance to him, and doing him homage, like the
witches and their associates; or they were possessed by him, a belief
derived by the Germans from Holy Scripture; or men might conclude a
compact with the devil binding both parties under mutual obligations.
In the latter case men signed away their souls in a deed written with
their own blood, and in return the devil was to grant to them the
fulfilment of all their wishes upon earth, success, money, and
invulnerability. Although the oldest example known is that of the Roman
Theophilus--a tradition of the sixth century--and although the written
compact originated at a time when the Roman forms of law had been
introduced among the western nations, yet it appears that the source of
this tradition concerning the devil was German. These transactions were
based upon a deep feeling of mutual moral obligation, and on a
foolhardy feeling, which liked to rest the decision of the whole of the
future upon the deed of a moment. There is much similarity between the
German who in gambling stakes his freedom on the throw of the dice, and
he who vows his soul to the devil. These alliances were not looked upon
by the old Church with mortal hatred; these wicked and foolhardy
beings, like Theophilus himself, might be saved by the intercession of
the saints, and the devil compelled to give up his rights. It is also
peculiar to German traditions, that the devil endeavours to fulfil
zealously and honestly his part of the compact, the deceiver is man.

Through these additions the popular mind invested the devil with new
terrors, yet it strove at the same time to think of him in a more
agreeable point of view. The race of giants of the ancient mythology
had had two aspects for the people; they took pleasure in seeing
something harmless, and indeed burlesque about them, besides the
terrors of their demoniacal nature. On one hand, the deformity of their
great bodies, their strength, and clumsy wit, and on the other, their
supposed knowledge of magic and technical dexterity, had already been
in heathen times an inexhaustible source of comic stories, by which the
people poetically explained to themselves, among other things, all
striking phenomena of nature. But besides the giants there was in the
heathen times a numerous host, of smaller spirits in nature, who
hovered around men. The hairy _Schrate_ dwelt in the woods, the _Nix_
sang on the banks of the brooks, a numerous race of dwarfs hammered in
the mountains, elves and _Idisien_, the German fairies, played on the
dew in the meadows, and the fighting maidens of Wuotan flew through the
air in the form of swans or on magic horses. In house and courtyard, in
barn, cow-house, and dairy, dwelt household spirits of various kinds,
sprites sat under the hearth, hobgoblins glided in the form of tom-cats
over the rafters, brown and gray mannikins, and sometimes white ladies
surrounded the family, as guardian spirits of their domestic comfort
and welfare. The repose of sleepers was disturbed by nightmares, the
rye-mume sat in the ears of corn, and the little wood fairy on the
felled timber, the will-o'-the-wisp in the marsh fluttered about
restlessly, and endeavoured to entice men out of the right track. These
lesser spirits maintained their place in Christendom, but became timid
and averse to men. It may be observed in the old traditions, with what
sorrow the new convert regarded the disturbance of his relations with
his old friends; in some, the little sprites lamented that they also
could not become blessed; in others, they are disturbed by the sound of
a clock, and depart secretly out of the country. Many of their dark and
malicious traits of character were also transferred to the devil,
especially those of the giants. He became an architect like them, he
was obliged to carry great masses of rock through the air, which he
lost on his journey, or cast down in anger; he had to raise prodigious
walls, and build bridges, castles, mills, and even churches. And in
these works, he was almost always the person cheated, as were the
giants in the olden traditions; being deprived of the reward for which
he had worked. He had to guard treasures beneath the earth, in the form
of a wolf or dog with fiery eyes, or to fly as a fiery dragon, and
throw treasures down the chimney on to the hearth. He was obliged to
appear in person at popular festivals, and act the part of the buffoon
and much belaboured opponent of the heavenly powers, in a half
ludicrous, half terrific dress. Among the Germans he had his disguises;
the horns, the goats' or horses' foot, the halting gait, the tail, and
the black colour. It is possible that the details of his costume may be
taken from recollections of the ancient satyrs, but similar strange
animal figures are to be found in the festive processions of German
heathendom, and in the rising cities of the middle ages, the dress of
the chimney sweeper was an inestimable help.

Such were the notions which prevailed about the devil in Germany for
about a thousand years. They were influenced by all the great
excitements and changes of the popular mind. In times of great
religious zeal, they bore a wild misanthropic aspect; but in days when
the people were engrossed with worldly pleasures, they assumed a more
comic and harmless form.

Then came Luther and the Reformation. Together with every one else in
Germany, the devil also was brought into the great struggle of the
century. The Roman Catholics looked upon him as the head of the whole
body of heretics; while the Protestants took the popular view of him as
a figure standing with a bellows behind the pope and cardinals,
inflating them with attacks on the reformed doctrines. He was mixed up
in all theological and political transactions; he sat on Tetzel's box
of indulgences, visited Luther at the Wartburg, made intrigues between
the Emperor and Pope, humbled the Protestants by the Smalkaldic war,
and the Roman Catholic party by the apostacy of the Elector Maurice;
and in all the concerns, small and great, of the people he appeared,
and was busy everywhere.

This enlargement in his powers of action would probably have taken
place at any period of zealous faith; but in the person and teaching of
the great character who gave to the whole of the sixteenth century its
impress and colour, there was something peculiar by which even the
reverse of all that was holy was remoulded.

First of all, Luther was the son of a German peasant. In the
recollections of his childhood, as revived by him amid the circle of
his companions at Wittenberg, the devil wore a very old-fashioned, nay,
heathenish, aspect; he brought devastating storms, while the angels
brought the good winds, as once upon a time the gigantic eagles did
from the furthest corners of the world by the stroke of their
wings;[66]  he sat as a water-god under the bridges, drawing maidens
down into the water, whom he made his wives; he served in the cloister
as household spirit; blew the fire as a goblin; as a dwarf laid his
changelings in the cradles; as a nightmare deluded the sleepers into
ascending the roof of the house, and bustled about the rooms as a
hobgoblin. By this last species of activity he sometimes disturbed
Luther. It is true that the ink-spot at the Wartburg is not
sufficiently verified, but Luther could tell of a disagreeable noise
which the devil had made there nightly with a sack of hazel nuts. In
the monastery of Wittenberg also, where Luther was studying Rempter one
night, the devil made such a noise, for so long a time in the crypt of
the church underneath him, that he at last snatched up his book and
went to bed. Afterwards he was provoked with himself for not having
defied the Jackpudding.

Thus deeply was Luther imbued with the popular superstition. But to
this kind of devilry he did not attach much importance; the bad spirits
who employed themselves after this fashion, he very properly called
poor devils. His opinion was that devils were countless. "They are not
all," he says, "insignificant devils, but country devils and princes'
devils, who for a long period, above five thousand years, have been
busy, tempting men, and are thoroughly clever and cunning. We have
great devils who are _doctores theologiæ_; then the Turks and papists
have bad insignificant devils who are not theological but juridical."
From them he thought came everything bad upon earth, as for instance
illnesses; he had a strong suspicion that the dizziness he had long
suffered from was not natural; also conflagrations:--"Wherever a fire
breaks out a little devil sits behind blowing the flame;" likewise
famine and war:--"If God did not send us the holy and dear angels as
guards and arquebusiers, who encamp round us like a bulwark, it would
soon be over with us." Expert as Luther was in describing his own
characteristics, he was equally so with the devil; he declared that he
was haughty, and could not bear to be treated contemptuously. Therefore
he advised that he should be driven away by scorn, and jeering
questions. He thought, also, that Satan was a melancholy spirit, and
could not endure gay music.[67]

But it was not in vain that Luther had spiritualized the Church
teaching; it was owing to him that the struggle for eternal salvation
began in the souls of individuals, and that the destiny of man was made
to depend on his own conscience and faith in God. Through this, Satan's
sphere of activity was changed, and the strife of men with the evil
spirit became more especially an inward one. It was not the outward
appearance and clatter of the devil that was peculiarly terrible, but
his whisperings to the souls of men. The preservatives against this
danger were, constant inward repentance, frequent prayer, and an
enduring and loving remembrance of God. Luther's temptations have
already been mentioned; he spoke openly and honestly to his
cotemporaries concerning them, and the race of men who listened with
faith to his discourse were infected by him; inward temptations were
commonly recognized by the Protestants, and on this point also he
became the comforter and confidant of many.

The difference between the old and new Church was first shown in the
conception of the free contract which man concluded with hell. In the
old Church it had been made comparatively easy to believers to escape
from the devil. By certain pious outward observances the Christian
could in the worst case, even when deeply engaged with Satan, free
himself from him in the last hour. Therefore, in the contracts made
between men and the devil before the Reformation, the latter was almost
always the person defrauded; this business-like and immoral method of
reaching the kingdom of heaven excited the deepest indignation of
Luther. He strongly proclaimed the doctrine of St. Augustine; that man
being corrupt through original sin is a prey to the devil, and can only
be put in the way of salvation by continual inward repentance, and that
therefore unrepentant sinners cannot be saved from hell. The result of
this was, that after the sixteenth century, those men who had concluded
a compact with hell were generally supposed to be carried off by the
devil. The sorrowful end of the traditional Dr. Faust is well known; he
was not Satan's only prey. It was generally believed, and published in
hundreds of tracts, that men of profligate character, reckless
drunkards, gamblers, swearers, or enemies against whom a bitter hatred
was entertained, were carried off into the nether regions. And the hand
of the devil was thought to be distinctly perceptible in the twisted
neck of the dying sinner. Luther himself had once to interfere in such
a case. A young student at Wittenberg, an ill-disposed youth, had
invoked the devil, and had offered himself up to him. Luther took the
affair in hand with great earnestness and dignity; he first crushed the
culprit by severe admonitions, then he knelt down with him in the
church, laid his hands on him, prayed with fervour, and caused the
youth finally to repeat after him a penitent confession; thus was the
business settled. Even historical personages did not escape the
melancholy fate of being possessed by the devil. The belief in this
continued beyond the Thirty years' war.

In the last century the compact which the Duke of Luxemburg, the
opponent of Prince William of Orange, had made with the devil, was
imparted to the public with all kinds of details and comments; and it
is characteristic of that fastidious period, that the Duke imposed upon
the devil, among other conditions, that he should only appear to him
under an agreeable, not in a terrible form.[68] Following the examples
given in the Bible, the new Church treated more kindly those that were
possessed. Luther and his followers assumed that these, through sins
which might be forgiven, and sometimes through small errors, had fallen
into the power of the devil, and that it was a duty and a merit in
believers to drive out the evil spirit by prayers and adjurations. It
was not all lunatics or epileptic persons who were considered to be
possessed of the devil, but as he was supposed to be at work
everywhere, they often had the satisfaction of finding him. The most
wonderful indications of his activity were watched with credulous zeal.
Weak-minded women principally were impressed with the belief that they
were tormented by the devil; and it was the natural result of this
imagination that in their sickly condition they expressed the most
violent repugnance against ecclesiastics, and the pious ceremonies with
which they were favoured. But how far preconceived opinions can confuse
the senses, not only of the sick, but also of the healthy, and falsify
the witness of their own eyes and ears, we discover with astonishment
in numerous accounts of eye-witnesses, who are fully worthy of credit,
but who perceive and believe in the most impossible things in those
possessed. To mention a very absurd instance supposed to have happened
in the time of Luther, at Frankfort on the Oder; a maiden who had
always been weak in mind was possessed by Satan in the following way:
"When the suspected maid seized any one by the coat or beard, or
otherwise, she always found money instead in her hand, which she
instantly put into her mouth, crunched, and at last swallowed. This
money one could only get out of her hand by force. In the same way she
everywhere found needles. Sometimes she handed over to the people who
stood around her this devil's money, which she had caught from the
walls, tables, benches, stones, and ground. It was good coin, groschen
and pfennige, but there were some bad red ones among it." This
extraordinary occurrence is related in a pamphlet by Dr. Andreas Ebert,
an ecclesiastic; and his account is confirmed by Theodore Dürrkragen,
the president of the city council. Luther, as with hundreds of other
critical questions, was asked his opinion about this: he was
distrustful, desired to know whether it was good money; and at last
advised that the maiden should be sedulously taken to church and
prayers made for her to God. There were some difficulties about this
cure, for the devil in the maiden insulted the clergyman during his
sermon, and gave him the lie. In vain also did a Roman Catholic priest
endeavour to conjure the devil from her, who treated him with scorn and
despised his holy exorcism. The power, however, of evangelical prayer
compelled Satan to depart; the maiden became vigorous and sound, after
her recovery knew nothing of the past, but continued to be, as servant
maid, a useful member of the community.[69]

Such were the ideas of German Catholics and Protestants. Nothing shows
more strikingly the power which Luther personally exercised, than the
influence he gained over his bitterest opponents. The Roman Catholic
dogmas, it is true, withstood his assaults, and between the new
bulwarks of faith which he had thrown up, and the closed fortress of
the old Church, there raged for a century a furious war. But his mode
of thought, his language, and above all the special character of his
spiritual life, influenced the German Catholic Church of his day as
well as the Protestant, in a way which was both peculiar and one-sided.
The rude formalism of her indulgence trade and pious brotherhoods, did
not entirely disappear; but he gave a new tendency to her inward
spirit. Earnest study, acute thought, dialectic skill, and what was of
more value, a greater moral depth, became the necessary requisites of
the Roman Catholic champions. They learnt to preach and compose their
controversial writings in Luther's language and method, even
appropriated the strong abusive expressions of the great heretic, and
sought to imitate felicitously the popular humour to which Luther owed
not a little of his success. The words of the evangelical songs, the
titles and contents of Lutheran works were always parodied. Perhaps the
internal resemblance is nowhere more striking than among the most
talented of the Ingoldstadt University. Andrea, Scherer, and their
friends might but for the difference of their dogmas, and above all
personal, hate, as well be Lutherans as Roman Catholics. Thus there
arose between the ecclesiastics of both confessions a sometimes
laughable, but frequently a disgusting contention to drive the devil
out of the possessed. If a possessed person became in question where
the two Churches were in collision, each endeavoured to show the power
of their faith by healing the patient; the evangelical by the prayers
of the clergy and parishioners, the Roman Catholics by exorcism; the
soul which was saved brought glory on the fortunate Church. Among the
numerous accounts which we find of suchlike exorcisms, the following,
which proceeds from the Roman Catholic camp in the neighbourhood of
Ingoldstadt, is remarkable from its detailed narration and interesting
psychological features. It was published shortly after the event, in a
pamphlet, with the title, 'A terrible but quite true history, which
took place between Hans Geisslbrecht, citizen at Spalt, and his wife
Apollonia, in the bishopric of Eystätter. By M. Sixtus Agricolas.
Ingolstadt, 1587.' The narrative begins as follows:--

"Hans Geisslbrecht, citizen at Spalt, after the death of his first
wife, married Apollonia, widow of the late Hans Francke of
Lautershausen, in the Margravate of Brandenburg; here he continued
after his marriage, and lived with her more than a year; at last,
however, the miserable marriage devil entered in, so that there was
between them both, nothing from morning to night but scolding,
quarrelling, strife, crying, chiding, and nagging; besides which, what
was altogether most terrible, great blaspheming of God and wicked
swearing. The said Geisslbrecht came home quite drunk on Friday the
nineteenth October of the past year '82, and began according to his old
custom to quarrel and swear at his wife; and they carried this on, as
most of their neighbours heard, almost throughout the night. On
Saturday morning Apollonia came to Anna Stadlerin, her neighbour, and
said: 'Dear Stadlerin, have you not heard how rudely and shamefully my
husband has behaved during the whole night?' 'Yes,' answered the other,
'I and my Stadler have, alas! but too well heard what caterwauling and
blaspheming has been going on between you; the neighbourhood can have
no peace whilst you live in so unchristian a way.' To this the said
Apollonia answered with grim anger: 'Ah me! if our Lord God will not
deliver me from this violent man, I shall call upon the devil to come
to my help.' Now mark what followed! On the said Saturday evening, when
Geisslbrecht's cows came home from the meadow, and she was about to
milk them, as was her wont, there came two birds like swallows, of
which at that time of year none are to be seen in the country; and they
flew swiftly round about her head. Before she could look up from under
the cow there appeared near her a tall man (but, alas! it was the devil
in human form), who said to her: 'Ah, my dear Appel, how much do I
sympathize with you, that you are in such trouble; your life is so hard
and wretched, and you have such a bad husband, who behaves so ill to
you, and who intends to make away with everything, so that nothing may
remain to you after his death. Do one thing, promise that you will be
mine, and behold I in return, will promise to convey you in this very
hour to a beautiful enjoyable place, where you shall for ever and ever
do nothing but eat, drink, sing, jump, and dance; in short, where you
will spend such days of pleasure as you have never seen all your life
long, for the kingdom of heaven is not such as your priests say; I will
teach you better.'

"These great promises of the embodied Satan induced the wretched woman
thoughtlessly to give him her hand, and say that she would become his;
instantaneously the said Apollonia became possessed by him, and
forthwith he suggested to her that she should hasten with him to the
loft; in the hope that she would there hang herself. Now when the
aforesaid wife of Geisslbrecht sprang up from the cows and hastened to
the house, the before-mentioned neighbours perceived her condition, and
called out to her husband: 'Oh, Ulrich, come! the old shepherdess (her
husband used to be called the shepherd) has lost her senses.' After
that, they ran towards her, and before they could reach her she laid
herself in the pond before the cottage door, with the intention of
drowning herself therein. When she had been taken out, many other
neighbours came to her, and brought the poor possessed woman into the
house again; she desired directly to be carried up to the loft, and
cried out: 'Oh let me go! Do you not see how luxuriously I live, that I
do nothing but eat, drink, jump, and dance, and lead an enjoyable
life?' When Apollonia was brought into her room, it required first two
and afterwards four men to hold her. Meanwhile a messenger was sent at
midnight on Saturday to the venerable and learned Dean and pastor, Herr
Wolfgang Agricola, to beg that his reverence would hasten to the old
shepherdess, as she had that evening lost her wits. But the prudent
Dean thought the affair was by no means so urgent as they represented
it, and did not wish to go out so late on this holy night, but he
apprized them, that he had always feared that these continual godless
quarrels and disputes would at last come to this conclusion; he bade
them, in case the woman became so refractory that they could not hold
or restrain her, to fasten her meanwhile with two chains, which was

"In the evening after he had performed matins, the Dean, like a man who
had been accustomed to deal with the like cases, provided himself with
a small reliquary, wherein was a piece of the holy cross, and of the
pillar on which the Lord Christ was scourged; further, an Agnus Dei of
the year of the Jubilee; and lastly a piece of white wax, which had
been consecrated by _summus pontifex_; all these he carried upon his
own person. When he went to the house of Geisslbrecht and was perceived
by Apollonia with her deceitful indweller, who so evil treated her, it
would be impossible for any one who had not been there, to believe how
she began to rage, rave, and gnash her teeth; for although she lay
bound by two chains, yet four men had enough to do to hold her. The
reverend Dean began, and said: 'Ah, Appel! may God in Heaven hear me;
this great calamity grieves me to the heart; Christ bless thee; what
has happened to thee?' Then the poor woman began with a strong manly
voice, such as was not her wont before: 'Hui, _Pfaff_, begone with you,
what do I want with you and your Christ? I have enough for my whole
life, do you not see how well I live? I need your heaven no more.'
Thereupon the Dean answered: 'I see, alas! how well you live; I would
not wish your pleasant life to a dog, let alone a man.' In order to
prove whether she was possessed or naturally crazy, the Dean took the
above-mentioned relics, and as she turned her back to him, placed them
with his hand upon her head without her knowledge: what a lamentation,
complaining, and whining she set up from that hour! how she raged in
her chains, foaming at the mouth like a champing horse, and snapped at
the Dean; concerning all this, those who held her, and the many people
in the room will give a better report than his reverence. Her constant
cry was, 'Oh, _Pfaff_, _Pfaff_![70] take away that thing from my head,
if not, behold I swear to you that I will tear you to pieces with my
teeth; I will trample on you, tear you limb from limb, and so kill you:
Oh! take that thing off, and lay upon me instead six large sacks full
of stones, they will not be so heavy.' 'Tell me,' said the Dean, 'what
it is? I will then directly take it off.' The evil one answered: 'I
know well what it is, but I would do anything--_cum venia_--rather than
tell you.' 'What?' said the Dean earnestly, 'you will not come out with
the words? quickly bring me a white cap, with it I will fasten this
small article upon your head.' 'Yes,' answered the evil one,' you may
well say a small article; if it were so small, it would not scorch so
much.' 'I conjure thee, by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob, to
tell me what it is.' But he gave no answer. Meanwhile, the poor
tormented woman thirsted much, and with all her imaginary costly good
living, would gladly have had something to drink; at a sign from the
Dean the women presented her first with some consecrated water; but
this was no drink for the evil one, he wished to have other water: the
Dean asked why he would not drink this, as it was only water. He
answered, '_Pfaff_, you lie, it is consecrated water.' Thereupon the
women gave her to drink from the great holy well, which was consecrated
every year on the golden Trinity Sunday; but little as the former was
to her taste, still less would she have to say to this; it was
necessary to withdraw it quickly, for she knew well what it was. Then
the Dean said that it was only water; but the evil one answered him
furiously: 'You always say that I lie, but I see that you can lie also;
it is your holy water.' When therefore they gave her the common water
she said, or rather he in her, although there was not the slightest
apparent difference in the vessel or the water, 'That is the right
kind.' Thereupon they mixed the three waters together, opened her mouth
with a spoon, and had much to do to pour it in and to make her swallow
it, thereupon she, or rather he through her, began thus: 'Oh, _Pfaff_!
how you deal with me.' The Dean answered: 'As you have tasted one you
may taste the other also; I know well what a bad guest you are, I and
you must have a better understanding before we separate.' 'What
_Pfaff_, do you wish to drive me away? I will sooner tear you to
atoms.' The Dean replied: 'You desperate villain! I think you hanker
after me, the smallest of little popish priests, therefore you shall,
before all the world, be permitted to enter into me as your pride
impels you; I will open my mouth wide enough, and make no sign of the
cross before it.' Then the evil one answered: 'Yes, enter, enter I
would, if I could only catch and bite your tongue and your fingers.'
'That I fully believe,' said the Dean, 'if it were in your power to
destroy me and every Christian man in his mother's womb, I hold it
certain you would spare no pains to do so; and listen to me, Satan, I
hold this head fast till you tell me what is in this little reliquary.'
'Then,' he answered, 'it is a holy thing.' 'What holy thing?' inquired
the Dean. 'That of Jerusalem,' said the evil one. The Dean replied:
'What of Jerusalem? make short of it, and be not so ceremonious.' To
which Satan exclaimed: 'Oh, leave me in peace; you know that I cannot
name it.' 'Then,' said the Dean, 'these are rotten, lame excuses; you
can very well name it if you will, therefore I conjure you, by the
death of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you publicly declare what it is.'
'Oh,' said he, 'it is indeed a piece of the holy cross, and a bit of
the pillar at which He was scourged.' The Dean replied: 'Do you then
believe that Christ died for us?' To which he said: 'Why should I not
believe it? I was not far off.' Upon that the Dean took down the
reliquary, and laid the above-mentioned Agnus Dei upon her head without
her perceiving it. She complained, wept, and cried out, even more than
before. On perceiving this strange agitation, the Dean wished again to
hear what it was that so discomposed her. Then the bad spirit called
out: 'Ho! ho! you shall make me tell you that again.' Then there was
much talk on both sides, till at last the evil spirit was constrained
by the hand of God to say, 'It is truly an Agnus Dei.' The Dean then
asked: 'Where was it consecrated?' To which the evil one said: 'If the
whole world stood by, they should not compel me to name the city.' The
Dean said: 'Indeed there is no place in all the world where you and
yours do meet with so much damage and opposition, therefore make not so
much ado, but say what is the name of the city?' As the Dean pressed
him so hard, and would not let him rest, he began: 'It is called R! R!
R!' To which the Dean said: 'Hui! Hui! young scholar, still better.'
Then the evil one, 'O! O! O!' To which the Dean said: 'Oh, what a
hopeful scholar! you desperate miscreant, you mortal enemy of the holy
true faith; add the M! M! M! thereto, and God will have imparted to you
a threefold truth.'

"Now when the Dean found that he had but too well ascertained the
condition of the unhappy woman, and that all the means which had
formerly been of use to others, were of no avail against an enemy so
powerful and well entrenched, he deferred the matter, till by God's
grace a better time and opportunity should occur. He commanded that
they should watch assiduously day and night, that she should not get
hold of anything wherewith she might cause bodily injury either to
herself or others; he also begged the neighbours and her appointed
watchmen to look after her, which they did day and night out of
brotherly and sisterly compassion.

"The following days the aforesaid Dean made preparation with all
diligence as far as possible for the great work, and had enough to do
to provide what was necessary for such a thorny and dangerous business.

"Meanwhile, it came to pass that a young Lutheran, a queer preaching
fellow, Johannas Bäuerlein, son of a furrier of this place, came here
fresh from his examination, and imagined he had already received full
power for this work; like the poet in his wretched tragedy, who in the
year 1545 in the parish sacristy at Wittenberg, drove the devil in and
out of a possessed person. This preacher had heard from his mother, who
dwelt in a house opposite to Geisslbrecht, of this lamentable affair,
had seen us many times go in and out, and had even stood among the
people in the room; but on account of his great beard wherein, like
Samson's strength, lay all his science, we did not recognize him. He
went there several times in our absence, and saw how pitifully and
miserably the poor woman was plagued and tormented by the evil spirit.
He spoke to it; but ah, dear God! at his weak lifeless words, the old
dog would not come out, but only carried on his monkey tricks with him.
At last he called the husband of the unhappy woman to him, and accosted
him thus: 'My dear Hans Geisslbrecht, that your wife should be
delivered from this miserable Satan, by whom she is so severely
tortured, will never take place by the aid of your popish priests; it
is beyond their power. But I,' said the sharp blade, 'will take with me
another servant of the altar, and we will drive him out by the pure
word of God.' This was revealed to us by the aforesaid Geisslbrecht. It
grieved all the ecclesiastics, and not unreasonably, coming from one
who had been born, baptized, brought up, and confirmed, and had
communicated here, and whose father, mother, and sisters had lived, and
most of them already died, good Catholics; he alone having apostatized.
So that we all came to a determination that during the act of exorcism,
which was fixed to take place with all secresy on the Thursday, he
should be in the church even were we to bind him like the poor woman,
and drag him in. Not that we wished any harm to him, but only that he
might see what an anxious, great, and dangerous work this was, and not
such a thing as when one enticeth the tom-cat from behind the stove.
However he smelt fire, was warned, and went off.

"On Wednesday, after vespers, the suffering of the sick person became
so great, that they hastened to fetch the Dean, for if she did not
obtain help, she would be torn to a thousand pieces by the evil one.
When the said Dean, and some of us arrived, we found such a wretched
state of things as will be present to us all our lives; for although
the more than miserable woman was extended on the ground, on a wretched
little bed, fastened by two chains so that she could not move hand or
foot, and had also two men holding her arms whilst her brother sat
astride on her legs, and some women on her body, thinking thus
effectually to hold her down, yet all was of no avail. The evil spirit
reared himself up, and raised all that were over him in such a manner,
that any one could have slipped under her back. But the most horrible
of all was, that the evil spirit raised himself up between the skin and
the flesh, in the form of a great adder or serpent, so that we could
see and lay hold of him. Swiftly as by nature they glide along the
earth, so did he glide backwards and forwards in the body; at one
moment into the head, afterwards into one arm, then into the other, or
suddenly into the feet; and when in the body, it became hot, as if
burning with pure fire; finally the evil one glided into the heart,
which swelled up like a twopenny loaf, and crept and coiled himself
round it, just as a viper does round a tree; he shook and squeezed her
heart together, so that it began to crack, and we one and all thought
that the fierce and infuriated spirit would have entirely suffocated
and destroyed her, for in her whole body not the smallest vein could
stir. The Dean cried out and called continually upon God in heaven.
Meanwhile they opened her mouth with a spoon, but for a long time she
showed no signs of life, till they poured something down her throat;
then her heart began to beat again. That was a great comfort to us, and
we all did our best to revive her, till she came a little to herself.
Then the Dean commanded that they should cut her hair clean off her
head, for it was all overrun with blood; he ordered also that the women
should wash her clean with lye, and said he would return again

"Thereupon the Dean returned home, and desired me, his brother Magister
Sixtus, Herr Georg Wittmeier, his confessor, Herr Bernhardt Eisen, who
was then deacon, Wilibald Plettelius the student, who had lately come
from the German college at Rome, and Leonhard Agricola, the student, to
come to him; and told us with great grief that it was certain that if
the poor woman could not be relieved this evening, the evil one would
destroy her even if she were of the worth of a thousand men. 'Therefore
come quickly with me,' said the Dean; 'have a good heart, be undaunted
and fear not, no harm shall happen to you; and if it should be
requisite that in the exorcism you should reply to me _et cum spiritu
tuo_, or Amen, pay the closest attention, especially you priests.' Then
he gave to one of the students to place under his dress, what was
necessary for this ceremony, and taking us first to the church,
admonished us all there to pray with faith, opened the Sacrarium, took
from the viaticum a holy host, laid it in a small napkin on his body,
put off the cope again, and went in form and appearance as before with
us to the house. Then he commanded him who bore his other vestments to
wait in the barn till further orders. He went into the room, knelt down
on the ground by the poor woman, laid his hand, as he was always wont
to do, on her head, and spoke to her; but the former old insults were
beginning again, when the Dean without any one perceiving it, put his
hand in his bosom and drew out the napkin with the ever-blessed host,
and placed it under his hand on her head. As soon as she perceived it,
she made in her bed three great bounds. Then said the Dean: 'Appel, do
I hurt you with my hand? How does it happen that at one time you can
bear it and at another time not?' 'Oh, yes,' said she, 'I can bear the
hand well, but take away what you have under your hand, otherwise you
will destroy me.' 'God forbid!' said the Dean; 'but tell me what is on
your head?' Then answered the evil one: 'Look you, wait a little!'
(here followed an examination as before), and at last the evil spirit
said what it was. Thereupon the Dean proceeded: 'But I wish to know yet
one thing, whether you are alone, or have any companions with you?' 'I
am alone,' said the evil one. 'What is your name?' 'I am called
_Spielfleck_,' said the evil one. 'Oh, that is nothing, you have never
in the beginning told me the truth; I must bring it out of you
perforce, you shall acquaint me with your right name, for I must and
shall know it.' Then the exorcism began again, till the evil one was
constrained to say, _Schwamm_.[71] Thereupon the watchers and nurses
exclaimed: 'Oh that is truly his right name, it is what she has always
called him.' Then the Dean answered: 'Well-a-day! God grant we may soon
lay hold of Schwamm, and send him down to Lucifer in hell, that he may
wipe his shoes with him.' The evil one: 'Oh no, no, spare me.' Upon
this my brother called on me, Herr Magister Sixtus, to draw near and
hold the napkin, containing the most holy and revered sacrament, on her
head, and commanded at the same time that all her chains should be
unloosed and done away with; whereupon many were much afeared. He
himself had his cope, stole, and books brought to him, and having thus
dressed and prepared himself, when the poor woman was loosened from all
her shackles, he took an old red stole in his hand and said: 'Behold,
_Schwamm_! I now come to thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and
the Holy Ghost. This threefold, indissoluble, godly bond shall now bind
thee down in the abyss of hell, so that you shall never more throughout
all eternity do any detriment or injury, either to persons, or cattle,
or any other creature.' He took both her hands, wound the stole three
times round her, and commanded the evil one, by the great power and
dignity of that which lay on the poor woman's head, to give up all
further struggle. Thereupon the Dean turned himself towards the people,
of whom there was such a multitude, that the room, windows, barn, and
streets were all quite full, and spoke to them:--

"At the conclusion of the holy prayer, the Dean gave directions to us
students whom alone he had employed as assistants, to place ourselves
round the miserable woman; gave to one the book, to another the candle,
to each one what he would need for this ceremonial, and then began in
the name of God a _modus conjurationis_ so lofty and so exceeding well
grounded on the holy, godly Scripture, and with such assiduity and
earnestness, (as he had in this a pure, strong, and undaunted Hon
heart) that our hearts began to tremble and the hairs of our heads to
stand erect. During this noble exorcism, which lasted some time, the
evil spirit did not make any especial blustering, only, perceiving a
boy showing his teeth in at the window, he desired to be allowed to
break them; but this his desire could not be granted. During the
ceremony the surrounding people, who could better observe, than one of
us who had more to do, saw distinctly that the eyes of the woman, which
were naturally dark, but in this misery had become gray and fiery like
cats' eyes, gradually recovered their natural colour; that her limbs
which were all distorted, returned to their right position, and that
her colour, form, and whole nature, which had been totally altered, was
restored delicate, fresh, and vigorous. Some who were standing by,
testified and confirmed by oath, that they had seen during the process
a black bird in the form of a thrush fly out of the mouth of the woman.
We do not publish this as a truth, because we none of us saw it, for we
do not wish to report anything but what we could in case of necessity
confirm with a good conscience, and by our priestly dignity and the
highest oath.

"This ceremony, God be praised, was throughout successfully performed,
and the aforesaid Apollonia clasped her hands together. Then the Dean
bent down towards her, took the stole out of her hands and asked her:
'Dear Apollonia, how are you now? do you now know me and the other
people?' Then the restored one tried to spring up for joy in her little
bed and throw her arms round the Dean's neck. This moistened many eyes.
But her limbs and whole body were so much torn that she had not
sufficient strength, so she clasped her hands over her head, looked up
to heaven and exclaimed three times: 'Oh Almighty and Eternal God, to
Thee be praise, honour, and glory, for ever and ever! Oh God, forgive
and pardon me for I have sinned against Thee so grievously! Oh Lord,
now will I gladly die!'"

Here concludes our extract from the pamphlet. The end of it is
edifying; the valiant Dean reaped the reward of his dangerous work by
winning the soul of Apollonia to his Church. She exhorted her husband,
and vowed a pilgrimage; and it appears that after that, the quarrelsome
couple lived together peaceably. What the religious zeal of the
narrator has added to the spiritual examination of the devil, is more
harmless than it is in many similar cases.

The tender care of both Churches for those possessed, and the pious
interest with which they regarded these victims of the devil, made
similar cases become a matter of speculation. Thus in Thuringia in
1560, a herdsman, Hans the father of Mellingen, made a great sensation.
He pretended that he had been compelled by a man of ill repute, to eat
some food which had brought him into the power of the devil; that he
had been severely handled and beaten by the devil, and showed his
stripes. He was on this account commended in pamphlets to the prayers
of Christendom. But once when he made his appearance at Nuremberg with
a bleeding ear, his hands tied behind his back with a three-coloured
cord, and there praying and begging, related his old story, that the
devil himself had thus fastened his hands, the Nurembergers, took the
matter up in earnest, and the audacity of the man sank before the
pressing cross-examination of the ecclesiastical and temporal
authorities; he acknowledged that he was a deceiver; he was placed in
the pillory, and then driven out of the town. The Nurembergers did not
fail to make known their discovery in a pamphlet.

But fierce indeed was the hatred with which was regarded, in the last
half of the century, that other connection with hell,--the old
witchcraft. Even Luther believed in witches; he mentions incidentally
that such a woman had injured his mother; and in another place was
angry with the lawyers who did not punish similar sorceresses when
they injured their fellow-creatures. But these expressions were not
intended to be very severe; he on the whole troubled himself little
with this phase of superstition. He, the copious writer, never
considered it necessary to discourse to his people concerning it; in
his sermons he only occasionally mentions witchcraft, and his whole
nature was repugnant to the application of violence. But if happily
for us, Luther's pure spirit preserved him from bitterness against
the devil's helpmates, his scholars and successors had little of his
high-mindedness. Young Protestantism was on this point little better
than the old belief. In Protestant countries the ministers of God were
by no means the only persecutors; the civil authorities were also
willing to follow the example of the ecclesiastical courts of the Roman
Catholics, and above all of the Jesuits. The victims were countless;
they amount without doubt to hundreds of thousands. It was first in the
domains of the ecclesiastical princes, that the contagion burst forth,
which devastated whole provinces as in Eichstädt, Würtsburg and
Cologne. In twenty villages in the vicinity of Treves, three hundred
and sixty-eight persons were executed in seven years, besides many who
were burnt in the city itself; in Brunswick the burnt stakes stood like
a little forest on the place of execution. In every province hundreds
and thousands might be counted. Every kind of baseness was practised by
the ecclesiastical and temporal judges; the most contemptible grounds
of suspicion sufficed to depopulate whole villages. No position and no
age was a security; children and the aged, learned men and even
councillors, were bound to the stake, but the greater part were
women;--we shudder when we look at the method of these condemnations.
It is not impossible, although it cannot be spoken of with certainty,
that a victim here and there did live in the mad delusion that they
were in union with the devil through magic arts; it is not impossible,
although this cannot be certified, that hurtful mediums, intoxicating
beverages and superstitious medicaments were in some cases used for the
detriment of others. But it is the strongest proof of the infamy of the
whole proceeding, that amidst the monstrous mass of old records
concerning witches, we find no ground of belief that in any case the
judgment was justified by the real misdeeds of the accused, though they
were made the excuse for it; for so great was the degree of fanaticism,
narrow-mindedness, or malice, that the mere accusation was almost
certain to be fatal. Torture was applied on the most frivolous charges;
the capability even of bearing pain was taken as evidence against those
who held out under torture; and every kind of accidental symptom,
disease of the body, outward appearance, or countless fortuitous
circumstances, were also considered as evidence. The possessions of the
condemned were confiscated; the greediness and covetousness of the
judges were united with brutality and stupidity. This fearful disorder
did not end with that century: through the whole of the sixteenth and
up to the middle of the eighteenth century these horrible judicial
murders continued. It was not till the time of the great Frederick that
they ceased.

The literary activity of the few enlightened men who ventured to speak
out in the interests of humanity against these trials for witchcraft,
was pregnant with danger. They themselves had to fear imprisonment and
the stake, and at least they incurred the hatred and the malice with
which believing fanatics assailed their opponents. One name belongs to
the sixteenth century which should ever be named with gratitude; that
of the Protestant physician _Johann Weier_, physician in ordinary to
Duke Wilhelm of Cleves, who in 1593 wrote his three volumes--'_De
præstigiis Dæmonum_.' Even he believed in necromancers, who, by the
help of the devil, wrought mischief, in which case they were to fall
under the punishment of the laws; but the witches he considered as poor
miserable beldames, who, in the worst cases, only imagined themselves
to be doing the work of the devil, but were for the most part quite
innocent. His warm heart for the oppressed, and his noble indignation
against the brutality of the judges in the cases of witchcraft, made an
immense sensation. Within his limited sphere of action Weier appears to
us as a supplement to Luther. Against him also the raging orthodox crew
upraised themselves. The good effect produced by Weier's book was in a
great manner counteracted by a flood of opposition writings. But again
amidst the horrors of the Thirty years' war, Friedrich Spee, the best
of the German Jesuits, wrote secretly his '_Cautio Criminalis_,'
against the burning of heretics; he published this anonymously in a
Protestant printing-press.

The various popular transformations of the devil did not end with the
century in which Luther taught, and Weier endeavoured to banish the
stake from the place of execution. The Thirty years' war brought
forward another set of gloomy fantasies concerning him. Satan was
considered by the wild troopers as a demon who made fortresses, and
cast magic balls which could penetrate every kind of armour.

When the peace came, the war-devil withdrew into the woods, where he
taught his arts to the wild huntsmen; and when there remained nothing
in the land but an impoverished population devoid of faith and hope,
the devil was sought after in his ancient and quiet occupation--only
disturbed by the covetousness of men--as the guardian of hidden
treasures. Much money and property had been buried during the long war,
and was discovered by lucky accidents after the peace.

The poverty-stricken people lusting after gold, and unused to quiet
labour, were powerfully excited by these treasure-troves, and the hopes
of still greater. There had always been, from ancient times, treasure
seekers, and magicians who were to conjure away the evil one from the
treasure; and it is probable that this superstition had been imported
into Germany from Rome.

Gradually the popular conception of the form and working of the devil
became less vivid. In a more enlightened age it was thought wrong to
speak mockingly of him, and the greatest poet of Germany gracefully
idealized his image as it had been handed down from antiquity. Some of
the musical composers also introduced him into their operas.

Thus did the German people seek earnestly after their God at the
commencement of this great sixteenth century, and thus powerful was the
devil at the close of it. Lofty exaltation was followed by enfeebling
relaxation, and the striving after Christ, by the fear of hell; and the
opponent of the Holy One pressed himself as a spectre into the whole
life of man. Other countries were infected with these superstitions;
but in Germany, for many years, the burning of witches was almost the
only public action in which the deluded people showed a strong
spiritual interest. The want of unity, public spirit and great
political aims, was the destruction of the nation.

By the disputes of priests, the selfishness of princes, and the unhappy
political position of Germany, the course of Protestantism was checked
and the Roman Catholic reaction with fresh vigour raised its head.
Throughout the country, in politics, in the pulpit, and in the closets
of the ecclesiastics, there was more hatred than love. The minds of men
languished under a spiritless dogmatism, and the hearts of believers
were oppressed by gloomy forebodings. The wisest felt deep anxiety for
the unhappy condition of the German Fatherland, and the devout were
kept by the ecclesiastics and countless calendar-makers in continued
anxiety, and fear that the end of the world was at hand, and the
frequent interference of the devil appeared to many as an additional
sign of its approach. Meanwhile the mass of the people of all ranks
lived in a state of refined enjoyment in the then opulent country.
Luxury was great, and every kind of excess was general. Those who did
not fear the devil did not concern themselves much either about God or
his saints. It was under such aspects that the fearful century of wars


[Footnote 1: It was not till after the fifteenth century that glass
became common in windows in towns; and about the same time they began
to find out the comfort of separate rooms. And it is thought worthy of
mention, that in 1546, Luther's bedroom at the palace of Eisleben was
protected by windows that closed.]

[Footnote 2: Little Hans of Sweinichen was deprived of his post as
gooseherd because he had tried to keep the geese quiet by gagging them
with small pieces of wood.]

[Footnote 3: The Thirty years' war.]

[Footnote 4: Georg von Podiebrad, King of Bohemia, died 1471.]

[Footnote 5: A town of Silesia, near Riesenberge.]

[Footnote 6: The word house, standing alone, denotes a fortified
building in the cities of the mayoralty, in the territory of some
nobleman; in such cases it was of stone, the walls very thick, but
without foundations, and therefore easily undermined; the windows were
provided with iron gratings, and a passage ran under the roof within
the walls; sometimes there was a large empty hall between the upper
floor and the roof, in the walls of which loop-holes of different kinds
were made for arrows, or at a later period for fire-arms, and in the
fifteenth century, for light guns. These houses, especially when
situated in the country, were often surrounded by an outer wall, which
also enclosed the farm buildings. They were often inhabited by many
families of noble descent all crowded together, some were husbandmen,
others freebooters, all however had a strong feeling of aristocratic

[Footnote 7: A linen covering, such as would be spread over the wooden
hoops of a waggon.]

[Footnote 8: König's 'Grätz in Bohemia.']

[Footnote 9: This journal, as also the whole account of Marcus
Kintsch von Zobten, is unfortunately in bad handwriting, and very much
defaced; but no one could read the fragment without emotion. There
cannot possibly be a more simple or striking description than the
following:--"As we are unjustly denied the Holy Sacrament, we hereby
testify before all, who hear, see, or read this writing, that we die in
the holy Christian faith, innocent of all that has been publicly laid
to our charge by our sovereign lord. And in making us suffer, he wrongs
us: this we testify before our God, and desire that Duke Hans, our
merciless master, may answer for it before the righteous tribunal of
God. For every one will observe, that had he any just ground of
complaint or accusation against us, he would not have condemned us so
cruelly in a dark corner; had he brought us in the light of day before
the people, his violence would have been apparent. As God Almighty, on
account of our sins, has brought this upon us, we will accept it, and
suffer patiently, and beg Him of his mercy to give us a happy end.
Amen. Written in great distress and affliction."

"Be it known, good people, that we died more from thirst than hunger."

"I, Hans Keppel, have written this, amidst all my distress and
suffering, and have my ink from the black of the burnt wick of the
light that is burning above. What God will further do with me, depends
on his grace and mercy. But if they give us no more food, we shall not
last long. May God help and support us. Amen. Hactenus Keppel."

On the day that Keppel wrote this, two of them died; and he and the
others later. This diary is given most accurately in 'Stenzel Script.
Rer.' Siles. iv.]

[Footnote 10: In 1526.]

[Footnote 11: The famous royal castle of Vissegrad on a bend of the
Danube four leagues north of Buda--Pesth.]

[Footnote 12: Ban Ladislaus von Gara was cousin to Queen Elizabeth.]

[Footnote 13: He was cousin to the queen and Ladislaus von Gara.]

[Footnote 14: The name is destroyed in the old manuscript.]

[Footnote 15: Maria Zell in Styria.]

[Footnote 16: The princess Elizabeth.]

[Footnote 17: Pfaff, a contemptuous name for a priest.]

[Footnote 18: A large stove used chiefly in Germany and Switzerland: it
was built of brown-glazed tiles cemented together; the door of it was
outside the room; it was heated by large logs of wood, and was
sometimes large enough to have beds made on it.]

[Footnote 19: For this see the 'Theologia Teütsch,' the best work of
the time previous to the Reformation, by an unknown writer of Tanler's
school, which was in fact the main source from which Luther drew his
opinions; an admirable work even for us.]

[Footnote 20: Exhortation to the ecclesiastics collected at the Diet at

[Footnote 21: It is thus represented in the woodcut on the title-page
of a work entitled, 'Complaint of a Layman, called Hans Schwall, of the
vile abuse of Christian Life,' 521, 4.]

[Footnote 22: The similarity of his Latinized name with that of Oswald
Myconius, of Geisshaüser, teacher of Thomas Platter, is not owing to
any relationship.]

[Footnote 23: Luther writes in 1541:--"So I desire and beg of our dear
God to allow me to be sick, and to lay aside this mortal coil in your
stead; therefore I beg and admonish you in all earnestness to pray to
God together with us, that He may preserve you in life for the service
and improvement of his church, and to the confusion of the devil.

"_May the Lord never allow me to hear, as long as I live, that you are
dead, but ordain that you shall outlive me. This I earnestly pray for,
and being certified of it, will have it so, and my will shall come to
pass. Amen._"]

[Footnote 24: See 'Dr. Martin Luther's Passion,' written by Marcellus;
the author is probably the marshal of Strasbourg.]

[Footnote 25: It was the evening of the 4th March, 1522.]

[Footnote 26: A spirit supposed to haunt certain parts of Germany in
those days.]

[Footnote 27: Compare with this the beautiful passage from the 'Table
Talk:'--"If, when I first began to write, I had known what I do now, I
should never have been so bold as to attack and anger the Pope, and
almost all men. I thought they sinned only from ignorance and human
frailty; but God led me on like a horse with its eyes blinded. Good
works are seldom undertaken from wisdom or foresight; they are all
brought about unconsciously." To this Philip Melancthon answered, that
having carefully studied history, he had observed that no great or
remarkable deeds had been done by old people, but at the age when
Alexander the Great and St. Augustine did them; later, men became too
wise and circumspect. Dr. Martinus said: "Young companions, if you had
wisdom the devil could not deal with you; but because you have not, you
need ours also, who are now old. Ah, if the old were but strong, and
the young wise! Behold these factious spirits--vain young people,
Icaruses, Phaëtons, who flutter in the air; chamois hunters, everywhere
and nowhere, who wish to knock down twelve ninepins when there are only
nine standing."]

[Footnote 28: Ecclesiam Romanam _pure_ colant. The double meaning
appears intentional, and seems a cunning device of Miltitz.]

[Footnote 29: That this happened designedly is betrayed in Luther's
letter to Melancthon, 13th July, 1521: "I conjure you to be beforehand
with the court, and not to follow its counsels. I have done this
hitherto; I should not have effected half that I have done had I made
myself dependent on its wishes."]

[Footnote 30: 'Table Talk.']

[Footnote 31: Geek is the German for coxcomb.]

[Footnote 32: German for tom-cat.]

[Footnote 33: Cat's head and claws.]

[Footnote 34: The buck.]

[Footnote 35: A little brat.]

[Footnote 36: With what satisfaction he thought of his death appears
from many passages in his writings--we give one--at the time of his
residence at Wartburg, from the dedication of 'The Gospel of Ten
Lepers,' the 17th September, 1521: "I, a poor brother, have again
lighted up a new fire, and have bitten a great hole in the Pope's
pocket, because I have attacked confession. Where can I now remain, and
where will they find brimstone, pitch, fire, and wood enough to
pulverize the poisonous heretic? They must assuredly break open the
church windows, for some holy fathers and ecclesiastical princes say
that they must have air to proclaim the gospels, that is, to revile
Luther, and to call out murder. What else can they preach to the poor
people? every one must preach what he can. Only death, death, death to
the heretic! they scream out--as ho would overturn all things, and
overthrow the whole ecclesiastical order, upon which rests the
foundation of Christendom. Now I hope, if I be accounted worthy, that
they may kill me, and so fill up the measure of their forefather's
sins; but it is not yet time, my hour is not yet come; I must first
anger the serpent brood still more, and justly deserve death from them,
that they may have cause to perform in me a great service to God."]

[Footnote 37: "I thank God, that I feel assured my doctrines are the
word of God and that I have been enabled to overcome grievous thoughts
and temptations, when my heart tempted by Satan has said, 'Art thou the
only one who holdest the word of God in truth and purity, and are
others altogether without it?' 'Then again, when the devil finds me
idle, and I am not thinking of the word of God, he troubles my
conscience by the thought that I have disturbed the governments, and
have occasioned much scandal and uproar; but when I lay hold of the
word of God I win the game.'" Passages like this are to be found in
many other places of the 'Table Talk.']

[Footnote 38: 'An Account of how God helped an Honourable Nun,' 1524,
p. 4.]

[Footnote 39: We find a mild judgment of the Saxon court in his 'Table
Talk,' 4: "I have again preached a sharp sermon at court against
drinking, but it does no good. Taubenheim and Minkwitz say that it
cannot be otherwise at court; for music and all knightly amusements
have passed away, and nothing is thought of now but drinking. And truly
our most gracious sovereign and Elector, John Frederic, is a gentleman
of much strength, who can well stand a good drink; what he can bear
would make another drunk. But when I return to him I will only beg of
him to command his subjects and courtiers, on pain of severe
punishment, to get very drunk; perhaps when it is commanded, they may
do the contrary."]

[Footnote 40: The passage following the one just quoted is remarkable:
"The nobles wish to govern, but have not the power, and understand
nothing about it; but the Pope not only understands how, but has the
power to govern: the weakest pope has more power to govern than ten
nobles of the court."]

[Footnote 41: Luther's 'Table Talk.']

[Footnote 42: For instance, in the year 1527, Luther could not lend
eight gulden to his old prior and friend Briesger. He writes to him
sorrowfully: "Three silver cups, marriage presents, have been mortgaged
for fifty gulden, the fourth has been sold, and the year has produced a
hundred gulden of debts. Lucas Cranach will no longer accept my
security, that I may not be quite ruined."

Luther often refused presents, even such as were offered to him by his
sovereign; but it appears that consideration for wife or children gave
him in later times somewhat more of a household feeling. What he left
at his death amounted to about eight or nine thousand gulden; it
consisted partly of a small landed property, a large garden and two
houses, which undoubtedly he must chiefly have owed to Frau Kate.]

[Footnote 43: It is in Timothy v. 11, and has no reference to this

[Footnote 44: Thus he speaks in many parts of the 'Table Talk.' His
last conversation at the supper-table of Mansfelder, in Eisleben, a few
hours before his death, was on the subject of meeting again with
father, mother, and friends in the next life.]

[Footnote 45: This discourse was spoken in Latin, and immediately
afterwards translated into German by Gasper Creutzinger.]

[Footnote 46: Christopher von Carlowitz, the confidant of the Elector
Maurice of Saxony, whose counsels he secretly guided, was at that time,
with good reason, the favourite of the Emperor, for it was he who
directed the politics of his master.]

[Footnote 47: Peilketafel, a long narrow board with a rim all round,
and two little gutters on the sides; on it they played with little
ironstones smoothed at the bottom.]

[Footnote 48: Valentin Stoientin, who had been the intimate of Ulrich
von Hutten in their youth, was then ducal councillor, and an
influential promoter of the Reformation.]

[Footnote 49: On Palm-Sunday it was the custom of the Catholics to draw
to the churchyard a large wooden ass on wheels, with a figure of Christ
as large as life upon it. After the consecration of palms the people
streamed thither. The choir of scholars sang the words of the
Evangelist, _Cum audisset populus, quia Jesus venit Hierosolymam,
acceperunt ramos palmarum_, &c. Then eight of the scholars stepped
forth, pointed to the ass, and sang aloud, _Hic est, qui venturus est_
(the lesser _Hic est_); to this the choir responded, _In salutem
populi_. Then eight other scholars pointed to the ass and sang, _Hic
est salus nostra et redemtio Israel_ (the great _Hic est_). Then eight
other scholars knelt before the ass, clasped their hands over their
heads, and sang, _Quantus est iste ad throni et dominationes occurrunt?
Noli timere, filia Sion, ecce Rex tuus._ This already was a very grand
performance for the scholars; but afterwards there came six other
scholars who knelt down, their faces to the earth, clasped their hands
of one accord over their heads, and sang the _Salve_; and when they had
finished it they went forward three steps, knelt down again, and sang
thrice, _Salve Rex, fabricator mundi_, &c. Then they drew the ass
forwards, and so on. Faithfully given from a description of the
solemnity, in the archives of St. Gallen, printed in Kessler's 'Life of
J. J. Bernet.']

[Footnote 50: The father Sastrow did not go to the communion from a
conscientious feeling, because he would not fulfil the condition of
forgiving his enemies.]

[Footnote 51: _Querela de ecclesia. Epicedion Martyrus Christi, D.
Roberti Barns, Angli. Authore Joanne Sastroviano._ Lubecæ, 1542, 8;
directed against Henry VIII. of England, who in tolerable distichs was
compared to Busiris and similar ancient characters.]

[Footnote 52: The guests were counted by tables, twelve persons being
generally reckoned to each table.]

[Footnote 53: The reward to the first bearer of good news. It was the
universal custom in Germany, in the middle ages, to demand and give the

[Footnote 54: Thomas Platter, the father, married again later, and had
six children by his second wife.]

[Footnote 55: 'Biography of Hans von Schweinichen,' v., Büsching, 1 S.
157. The host is the same Marcus Fugger who wrote the best work on the
training of horses in the sixteenth century. He himself had a large
stud, first in Hungary, and then at the foot of the Allganer Alps.]

[Footnote 56: Compare with this the beautiful characteristic of
Wilibald Pirkheimer in D Strauss Hutten, 1.]

[Footnote 57: Margaret Horng of Ernstkirchen was twice married, first
to Dr. Johann von Glauburg at Lichtenstein, then to Weicker Frosch,
both of Frankfort families.]

[Footnote 58: This refers to the presents of the bridegroom to the
female relation of the bride.]

[Footnote 59: The bridegroom was a widower.]

[Footnote 60: After the marriage feast the shoes are taken from the
feet of the bride and given to the best-man.]

[Footnote 61: Of the ceremonial of fetching home the bride, and the
festive entrance into the city of Frankfort. This fetching home took
place with a splendour which made an epoch in the patrician circles of
Frankfort. 1598.]

[Footnote 62: Götz's method of acting is characteristic: he enters into
a quarrel with the rich Nurembergers, seeks for causes of quarrel, and
waylays their merchants. The supposition that the Nurembergers hold a
good comrade of his in durance is sufficient for him; of a like
character is the ground of offence, that they had stabbed in another
quarrel a servant whom he had wished to take into his service. There is
nothing further said of Fitz von Littwach, than that Götz was obliged
to reconcile himself with the Nurembergers. The grounds upon which Götz
broke bounds are in themselves remarkable, as will be perceived in the
following narrative.]

[Footnote 63: Hohenburg and Bissingen lay in the territory of
Oettingen. The Counts of Oettingen claimed to be lords paramount over
these properties.]

[Footnote 64: The princes stood by the members of their own order; and
this family, as we know, belonged to the higher nobility. Their
struggle for seigniorial rights over property occasioned many battles
in the sixteenth century; and the claims of Schärtlin appeared to them
particularly arrogant, as his nobility by birth was more than

[Footnote 65: Bishop of Breslau, the crown commissary of Bohemia, under
the supremacy of which Silesia was then incorporated.]

[Footnote 66: Winds are nothing but good and bad spirits.--'Table

[Footnote 67: At one time Luther was inclined to think that he himself
had one or two especial devils as opponents, who lurked about him and
accompanied him to the dormitory in the cloister.--'Table Talk.']

[Footnote 68: 'The compact alliance of the world-famed Duke of
Luxemburg--General and Court-Marshal to the King of France--with Satan,
and the terrible catastrophe that followed.' Frankfort and Leipzig,

[Footnote 69: The title of the manuscript is, 'Wonderful Tidings of a
Money Devil; a strange, incredible, yet true story. Published at
Frankfort on the Oder, where it took place, 1538, 4.']

[Footnote 70: Pfaff was the nickname of the Roman Catholic priests in
those days.]

[Footnote 71: This does not mean mushroom, still less bath sponge, as
the Dean understood it; it is the Bavarian word _Schwaim_, pronounced
_Schwam_, "The Floating Shadow."]

                             END OF VOL. I.


                           AND CHARING CROSS.

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large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.