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Title: A Short History of Germany
Author: Parmele, Mary Platt, 1843-1911
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of Germany" ***













It is more important to comprehend the forces which have created a
great nation, and the progressive steps by which it has unfolded, than
to know the multitudinous events and incidents which have attended such

In order to forestall criticism for the absence of some events in this
History of Germany the author desires to say, that there has been an
effort to keep strictly to the main line of development and to resist
the temptation of introducing details which do not bear directly upon
such line.

The bypaths of history are fascinating, but they are of secondary
importance, and may better be explored after the main road has been
traveled and is thoroughly known.

Such is the ideal which has been very imperfectly followed in this book.

M. P. P.

NEW YORK, _June_ 21, 1897.



Indo-European Migrations--Divisions of the Aryan Family into European
Races--The Teutonic Race


Hermann--Defeat of Varus--Characteristics of the Ancient Germans


Social Conditions--Form of Government--The Goth in Rome--A Gothic
Kingdom in Spain--The Teuton Race Covering the European Surface--The
Angles and Saxons in Britain


Ulfilas--The Hunnish Invasion--The Roman Empire Perishing--Its
Conversion--An Eastern Empire--Increasing Power of the
Church--Charlemagne--France and Germany Separated--Feudal System


Early Conditions--Hungarian Invasions--Creation of
Burgs--Knighthood--Pope and Emperor Become Rivals--Henry
IV.--Canossa--First Hohenstaufen--Welf and Waiblingen--The
Crusaders--Conrad--Frederick Barbarossa


Source of Weakness in the Empire--The Great Interregnum--The Nibelungen
Lied--The Hanseatic League--The Guilds--Meistersingers


Conditions--First Hapsburg and First Hohenzollern--Swiss
Freedom--Intellectual Awakening--The Golden Bull--Hussite War--A
Hohenzollern Receives a Mortgage on the Territory of
Brandenburg--Discovery of Gunpowder--Conditions Existing under
Frederick III.--Invention of Printing--The Passing of the Old and
Coming of the New


General European Conditions--Centralizing Tendencies at
Work--Maximilian I.--A New World--The Rise of Spain--Isabella--Charles


Triple Game between Francis I., Henry VIII., and Charles IV.--Leo
X.--Luther--The Diet of Worms--Protestantism Born--Margrave of
Brandenburg Usurps Sovereignty over Prussia--The Peasants War--The
Augsburg Confession--Charles V. Thwarted--Protestantism a Dominant
Power in his Empire--Schisms in the New
Faith--Calvinism--Reformers--Lutherans--The Schmalkaldian
League--Anabaptists--Abdication of Charles V.--Philip II.--Death of
Charles--Ferdinand I.--Council of Trent--Society of Jesus


A Protestant Germany--A Divided Protestantism--True Meaning of the
Struggle--Unfruitful Waiting--The Renaissance--Music, Art, Letters,
Born Anew--Thought Awakened--Copernicus--Galileo--Kepler--Impending
Calamity--Protestant Union and Catholic League--Thirty Years' War
Commenced--Wallenstein--Gustavus Adolphus--His Triumph and
Death--Richelieu--Death of Wallenstein--Peace of Westphalia--Division
of Territory


Romano-Germanic Empire Perishing--European Conditions--Louis
XIV.--Decay of National Spirit--Rise of Brandenburg--Combination
against Louis XIV.--Spanish Succession--Under Frederick I. Brandenburg
Becomes Prussia--Alliance with England--Marlborough and Prince
Eugene--Blenheim--Peace of Utrecht--Territorial Changes--Charles XII.
and Peter the Great--Pragmatic Sanction--Frederick William
I.--Stirrings of Thought in this Time of Chaos--Birth of German
Speculative Philosophy--Spinoza--Soul Awakening


Frederick the Great--His Childhood--Von Katte's Execution--Frederick at
Potsdam--Frederick II., King of Prussia--Maria Theresa, Empress--War of
Austrian Succession--Silesia--Personal Traits of the Two
Sovereigns--Frederick Joins France against Austria--Peace of
Dresden--Frederick Becomes "The Great"--Healing the Wounds Left by Two
Wars--Voltaire's Influence--Frederick a Reformer and a Despot--Growth
in Thought and Birth of a Native Literature--Voltaire at Frederick's
Court--Change Wrought by a Nearer View of King and Poet


War over American Boundary between England and France--Maria Theresa
Joins France--Her Policy--A Combination against Frederick II.--Seven
Years' War--Peace of Hubertsburg--Silesia Forever Abandoned by
Austria--Prussia One of the "Five Great Powers"--Healing Wounds
Again--Conditions External and Internal


Marie Antoinette Married to the French Dauphin Louis--Unsuspected
Conditions--Joseph II.--Reforms by a Progressive Hapsburg are a
Failure--Romanticism Replaces Sentimentalism in Literature--_Sturm und
Drang_ Period--Luther's Influence upon Letters--Frederick Succeeded by
his Nephew--Effect of Prussia's Ascendancy in the German Empire--Its
Coming Dissolution--Why Patriotism Could Not Exist--The Calm before the


The Beginnings of the Storm--The United States of America and
France--The Thought-Currents Which Moved toward a Vortex--Execution of
King and Queen--France a Ruin but Free--A Republic--First
Coalition--Poland and its Partition--Austria Fighting Alone for the
Empire--Napoleon Bonaparte in Italy--His Methods and Their
Result--Treaty of Campo Formio--Three New Republics--Napoleon in
Egypt--His Return--Second Coalition--Dominions of Ecclesiastical Rulers
Given Away--Napoleon the Instrument of Fate


Napoleon Emperor of the French--Third Coalition--Prussian
Neutrality--The Rheinbund--Dissolution of the Empire and Abdication of
Francis II.--Retribution for Prussia--Battle of Jena--Peace of
Tilsit--A Continental Blockade--Marriage with Marie Louise


Revolt of Bavarian Peasants--The "League of Virtue"--Invasion of
Russia--Burning of Moscow--Retreat--General York Leads a Popular
Movement--Prussia at War with Napoleon--The Battle of Leipzig--The
Allies in Paris--Napoleon Deposed--Louis XVIII. King--Return of
Napoleon--Waterloo and St. Helena


Reconstruction--The Act of Union--Sentiment of the
People--Concessions--Francis II. Died--A Republic in France--Blaze of
Revolutionary Fires in Europe--A National Parliament Granted--Its
Failure--Napoleon III. in France--Magenta and Solferino--Revolution in
Italy--Victor Emmanuel King--William I. King of Prussia


King William and Bismarck--Schleswig-Holstein--Proposed Division--War
against Austria--Königgrätz--The North German Union


Napoleon III. Plans the Overthrow of Prussian Dominion--Vacant Throne
in Spain--A Hohenzollern Candidate--Benedetti and King William--War
Declared by France--Metz--Sedan--King William at Versailles--Crowned
Hereditary Emperor of the German Empire--Death of Emperor William
I.--Emperor Frederick--His Unfulfilled Dreams and his Death--William
II. Emperor



Foundation building is neither picturesque nor especially interesting,
but it is indispensable.  However fair the structure is to be, one must
first lay the rough-hewn stones upon which it is to rest.  It would be
much pleasanter in this sketch to display at once the minarets and
towers and stained-glass windows; but that can only be done when one's
castle is in Spain.

Would we comprehend the Germany of to-day, we must hold firmly in our
minds an epitome of what it has been, and see vividly the devious path
of its development through the ages.

The German nation is of ancient lineage, and indeed belongs to the
royal line of human descent, the Aryan; its ancestral roots running
back until lost in the heart of Asia, in the mists of antiquity.

The home of the Aryan race is shrouded in mystery, as are the impelling
causes which sent those successive tides of humanity into Europe.  But
we know with certainty that when the last great wave spread over
Eastern Europe, or Russia, about one thousand years before Christ, the
submergence of that continent was complete.

Before the coming of the Aryan, the Rhine flowed as now; the Alps
pierced the sky with their glistening peaks as they do to-day; the
Danube, the Rhône, hurried on, as now, toward the sea.  Was it all a
beautiful, unpeopled solitude, waiting in silence for the richly
endowed Asiatic to come and possess it?  Far from it!  It was teeming
with humanity--if, indeed, we may call such the race which modern
research and discovery have revealed to us.  It is only within the last
thirty years that anything whatever has been known of prehistoric man;
but now we are able to reconstruct him with probable accuracy.  A
creature bestial in appearance and in life; dwelling in caves, which,
however, a dawning sense of a higher humanity led him to decorate with
carvings of birds and fishes; but certain it is, the brain which
inhabited that skull was incapable of performing the mental processes
necessary to the simplest form of civilization; and life must have been
to him simply a thing of fierce appetites and brutal instincts.  Such
was the being encountered by the Aryan, when he penetrated the
mysterious land beyond the confines of Greece and Italy.

The extermination, and perhaps, to some extent, assimilation, of this
terrible race must have required centuries of brutalizing conflict,
and, it is easy to imagine, would have produced just such men as were
the northern barbarians who, for five hundred years, terrorized Europe;
men insensible to fear, terrible, fierce, but with fine instincts for
civilization--dormant Aryan germs, which quickly developed when brought
into contact with a superior race.

The earliest Indo-European migration is supposed to have been into
Greece and Italy, where was laid the basis for the civilization of the
world.  The second was probably into Western Europe and the British
Isles; then, after many centuries, the central and last, and at a time
comparatively recent, into the Eastern portion of the continent.

So, by the fourth century B.C., three great divisions of the Aryan race
occupied Europe north of Greece and Italy: the Keltic, the western; the
Teutonic, the central; the Slavonic the eastern; and these, in turn,
had ramified into new subdivisions or tribes.

To state it as in the pedigree of the individual, the Aryan was the
founder, the father of the family; Slav, Teuton, and Kelt the three
sons.  Gaul and Briton were sons of the Kelt; Saxon, Angle, Helvetian,
etc., sons of the Teuton; and all alike grandchildren of the Aryan;
whom--to carry the illustration farther--we may imagine to have had
older children, who long ago had left the paternal home and settled
about the Caspian and Mediterranean seas: Mede, Persian, Greek, Roman;
apparently bearing few marks of kinship to these uncouth younger
brothers whom we have found in Europe in the fourth century B.C., but
with nevertheless the same cradle and the same ancestral roots.

It is the Teutonic branch of the Aryan family with which we have to do
now, between whom and their Keltic brothers there flowed the River

Greece and Rome were unaware of the existence of the Teuton until about
the year 330 B.C., when Pythias, a Greek navigator, came home from a
voyage to the Baltic with terrible tales of the Goths whom he had met.
Nearly one century before Christ the inhabitants of Italy were enabled
to judge for themselves of the accuracy of the description.  Driven
from their homes by the inroads of the sea, the Goths poured in a
hungry torrent down into the tempting vineyards of Northern Italy.
Gigantic in stature, with long yellow hair, eyes blue but fierce--what
wonder that the people thought they were scarcely human, and fled
affrighted, leaving them to enjoy the vineyards at their leisure!

Accounts of this uncanny host reached Rome, which soon knew of their
breastplates of iron, their helmets crowned with heads of wild beasts,
their white shields glistening in the sun, and, more terrible than all,
of their priestesses, clad in white linen, who prophesied and offered
human sacrifices to their gods.

But the sacrifices did not avail against the legions which the great
Consul Marius led against them.  The ponderous Goth was not yet a match
for the finer skill of the Roman, and the invaders were exterminated on
the plain near Aix, 102 B.C.  The women, in despair, slew first their
children, then themselves, a few only surviving to be paraded in chains
at the triumph accorded to Marius on his return to Rome.  Such was the
first appearance of the Teuton in the Eternal City, and the last until
five hundred years later, when the conditions were changed.


At the time of this first invasion the German race was divided into
tribes with no affinity for each other, who were indeed much of the
time in fierce conflict among themselves.  One of these tribes, called
the Cherusci, occupied the southern part of what is now Hanover.  Their
chief, Hermann, had in his youth been taken to Rome as a hostage, and
there had been educated.

Hermann was the first to dream of German unity.  While the infant
Christ was growing into boyhood in Palestine, this Hermann was studying
Latin and history at Rome; and as he read he pondered.  He found that
the Romans had achieved such tremendous power by _combination_.  If his
people would unite and stand as one nation before the world, why might
not they too become great?  These Romans were pleasure-loving and
vicious.  His Germans in their rude homes were just and true.  They did
not laugh at vice; they were rough, but simple and sincere; love bound
the father and mother and children closely together.  The idea of
German unity took possession of Hermann.  He resolved to devote his
life to its accomplishment, and to return to his country and try to
inspire his race with a sense of common brotherhood, and a
comprehensive patriotism.

Julius Cæsar, the great Roman general, was governor of Gaul, and with
one eye fixed on Britain and another on Germany was steadily bringing
Europe into subjection to Rome.

The task of subduing the stubborn Teutons was given by Augustus to
Varus, a trusted general.  In the year 9 A.D., Varus had arrived with
his great army in the heart of Germany.  Little suspecting the plans
and purposes surging in the young man's brain, he leaned upon Hermann,
whom he had known in Rome, as his guide and counselor in a new and
strange land.

Unsuspectingly he marched with his heavily armed legions, as if for a
holiday excursion, into the fastnesses of the Teutoberger Forest, into
which Hermann led him.

When fairly entangled in the dense wood, surrounded by morasses and wet
marshes instead of roads, suddenly there was a thundering war-cry, and
barbarians swarmed down upon him from all sides.  Hundreds who escaped
the rain of arrows were lost in the morasses.  It was not a question of
victory, but of escape, for the entrapped and heavily armed legions.
Only a handful returned to tell the story, and Varus, unable to bear
his disgrace, threw himself upon his sword.

The great Emperor Augustus clothed himself in mourning, let his beard
and hair grow, and cried in the bitterness of his soul, "Varus, Varus,
give me back my legions!"

But Hermann, like many another hero, was not comprehended by the people
he wished to inspire.  He had arrested the tide of Roman conquest in
Germany.  How was he rewarded?  His people could not understand his
dream of unity.  Should they be friends with the Cimbri and Suevi, who
were their enemies?  They suspected his motives.  There were intrigues
for his downfall.  His adored wife, Thusnelda, and his child were
delivered to the Romans and graced a triumph at Rome, and when only
thirty-seven years old, the first heroic character in the history of
Germany was assassinated by his own people.

Our Saxon ancestors, four centuries later, made the British Isles echo
with the songs in which they chanted the praises of this "War Man,"
this "Man of Hosts," who was the "Deliverer of Germany."  Hermann had
not consolidated his people, but he had arrested their conquest and
subjugation by the Romans.  Many, many centuries were to roll away
before his dream of unity was to be realized.

What sort of people were these ancient Germans, for whom Hermann hoped
so much almost nineteen hundred years ago?

They were pagan barbarians, without one gleam of civilization to
illumine the twilight of their existence.  They had no art, no
literature, nor even an alphabet.  They were fierce and cruel; but they
had simple, uncorrupted hearts.  They were brave, truthful, hospitable,
romantic, with instincts singularly just, and a passion for the
mysterious realities of an unseen world.  War and hunting were their
pursuits, the family and domestic ties were strong and abiding, and
over all else, religion was supreme.

Like their Scandinavian kinsmen, they worshiped the gods of their
ancient Aryan ancestors in sacred groves; and offered sacrifices,
sometimes human, to _Wotan_, and _Donar_, or _Thor_, the Thunderer, for
whom they named Thursday, Thorsday, or _Donners-tag_, and in honor of
one of their goddesses, _Freyja_, another was called Frei-tag, or
Friday.  The decrees of fate were read in the flights of birds, or
heard in the neighing of wild horses, and then interpreted to the
people by priestesses, who, clad in snow-white robes, presided also at
the terrible sacrifices.


During the three centuries after Hermann had arrested the flood of
Roman conquest, a civilization of the simplest sort was slowly
developing in Germany, where society was divided into the _free_ and
the _unfree_ classes.

The tribes in the south differed greatly from those in the north.  They
had no settled homes, nor ownership in land.  This was divided among
them every year by lot; one-half of the people remaining yearly at home
to till the soil, and the other half giving their entire time to the
wars which were as perennial as the growing crops of grain.

In the north, however, where lived the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxon
race, conditions very different prevailed.  There the lands were
bestowed in perpetuity upon the most powerful members of the tribes,
and by them handed down to their sons.  The unfree class tilled the
soil, and were thus the serfs of a ruling class, and only freemen could
bear arms.

There were no cities in ancient Germany, only villages which were
composed of rude huts.  A collection of these villages formed a group
which was called a _Hundred_.  Every Hundred had its chief, who was
elected by the people; and the one chosen by the combined will of all
these Hundreds was the chief or King of the tribe.

The chiefs of the Hundreds formed a sort of advisory council to the
King or tribal chief.  But supreme over the will of these chiefs and
their King was the will of the people.  Every village had its _meetings
of the people_, which all freemen were entitled to attend.  The real
governing power lay in these meetings, to which both chiefs of the
Hundreds and the King were compelled to defer.

Was a new King to be elected, or were there grave questions concerning
wars to be considered--they were discussed in advance by the chiefs and
the King.  But the ultimate decision lay with the people themselves; a
general meeting of the whole tribe being required to elect a new King;
the people clashing their arms in token of approval, or shouting their

As all freemen bore arms, there was no distinct military organization.
Every man held himself ready at any moment to respond to a call, and
the army was the people!

About the middle of the third century, numerous small German tribes
became united into large confederacies.  Conspicuous among these were
the Allemani, the Franks, the Saxons, and the Goths.

The Allemani, in the south of Germany, it is said were so called
because of the fact that _all men_ held the land in common.  If this be
so, then the French name for Germany is essentially communistic, and it
is not strange that communism has always found a congenial soil in that

The Franks occupied the banks of the Rhine and of the river Saal.  The
Saxons were spread over North Germany, and the Goths, on both sides of
the river Dnieper, were divided into the Ostro-Goths and the Visi-Goths
(or the East and West Goths).

It was these Visigoths under Alaric who inflicted the deadliest blows
upon the Roman Empire.  The sacking of Rome in 410, and the
establishing of a Gothic kingdom in Spain, shook the very foundations
of that power.  Then the legions could no longer be spared in distant
Britain, which was left to its fate.  And that fate was of deepest
import to us!  The Saxons and the Angles overflowed and absorbed the
land, and Keltic Britain was Teutonized.

So this untamed and untamable Teuton was being spread, like some coarse
but renovating element, over the surface of old Europe.  And with the
occupation of Gaul by the Franks in 481, and the annexing of France to
the Frankish kingdom under Clovis, the process was complete.

I cannot resist the temptation of saying a few words about the
Anglo-Saxon occupation of Britain, which, as it virtually converted us
from Kelts into Teutons, is not a digression.

From the time of Julius Cæsar the island of Britain had been occupied
by the Romans, and in consequence had become partly civilized and
Christianized.  Upon the fall of the empire, the Roman legions were
withdrawn, and the people, left defenseless, became the prey of their
own northern barbarians, the Picts and Scots; the drama of Southern
Europe and the Goths being re-enacted on a diminished scale.  In the
fourth century the Britons implored the Angles and Saxons to come and
protect them from these savages.  Invited as allies, they came as
invaders, and remained as conquerors, implanting their habits, speech,
and paganism upon the prostrate island.  It was the extermination of
this exotic paganism which impelled to those deeds of valor recited in
the Round Table romances, and which made King Arthur and his knights
the theme of poet and minstrel for centuries.

But the Saxon had come to stay, and Teuton and Kelt became merged, much
as do the lion and lamb, after the former has dined!  The Teutonic
Saxon may be said to have dined on the Keltic Briton, and remained
master of the island until the Normans came, six centuries later, and
in turn dominated, and made him bear the yoke of servitude.

Nor was this French-speaking Norman French at all, except by adoption;
being, in fact, the terrible Northman of two centuries before, on
account of whose ravages the noble had intrenched himself in his strong
castle, and the wretched serf had in mortal terror sold himself and all
that he possessed, for the protection of its solid walls and moat; and
thus had been laid the foundations of feudalism.  He it was who, with
longhair reeking with rancid oil, battle-ax, spear, and iron hook--with
which to capture human and other prey--had held France in a state of
unspeakable terror for centuries, but who had finally settled down as a
respectable French citizen in the sea-board province of Normandy, and
in two centuries had made such wonderful improvement in manners,
apparel, and speech that the simple Saxon baron stood abashed before
the splendid refinements of his conquerors.

The origin of this mysterious Northman is unknown; but whatever it was,
or whoever he was, he certainly possessed Aryan germs of high potency.

So the Saxon had built the solid walls of the racial structure upon a
foundation of Britons; and, though with no thought for beauty, had
built well, with strong, true structural lines.  It was the Norman who
finished and decorated the structure, but he did not alter one of these
lines; the speech, traits, institutions, and habits of England being at
the core Saxon to-day, while there is a decorative surface only of

So when the Englishman calls himself, with swelling pride, a Briton, he
speaks wide of the mark.  The Keltic Briton was buried fathoms deep
under seven centuries of Saxon rule, and then, to make the extinction
more complete, was overlaid with this brilliant lacquer of Norman
surface.  And if that mixed product, the English people, have any race
paternity, it is Teutonic, and herein may lie the impossibility of
making the English and Irish a homogeneous people--the English Teuton
and Irish Kelt being in the nature of things antagonistic, the
particles refuse to combine chemically, and can only be brought
together (to use the language of the chemist) in mechanical mixture.


Among the German tribes it was the Goths who had first come under the
civilizing influence of the Christian religion.

As some winged seed is wafted from a fair garden into a dark, distant
forest, and there takes root and blossoms, so was the seed-germ of
Christianity caught by the wind of destiny, and carried from Palestine
to the heart of pagan Germany, where, strange to say, it found
congenial soil.

The story is a romantic one.  A Christian boy in Asia Minor, while
straying on the shores of the Mediterranean, was captured by some
Goths, who took their fair-haired prize home to their own land, and
named him Ulfilas.

The boy, with his heart all aflame for the religion in which he had
been nurtured, told his captors the story of Calvary--of Christ and his
gospel of peace and love; and lived to see the terrible sacrificial
altars replaced by the Cross.

The Goths had no alphabet, so Ulfilas invented one, and then translated
the Bible into their rude speech.  A part of this translation is now
preserved in Sweden and is the earliest extant specimen of the Gothic
language.  This Gothic version of the Lord's Prayer, written by Ulfilas
more than fifteen centuries ago, bears such close resemblance to the
German and English versions that it can be easily read by us to-day;
and makes us realize our own near kinship to those simple barbarians of
the fourth century.

In the year 375, thirty-five years before the sacking of Rome, from the
vast plains lying between Russia and China there had poured into Europe
a terrible race of beings called Huns.  They seemed more like demons
than men.  Insensible alike to fear, to hunger, thirst, or cold, they
appeased their ferocious appetites upon wild roots and raw meat.  These
hideous men ate, drank, and slept on horseback, their no less hideous
wives and children following them in wagons, as they ravaged through
the Continent of Europe.

The Huns, under the leadership of Attila, swept everything before them;
leaving a track of blood and ashes through Germany.

The Goths deserted their lands and homes on account of this brutish
invasion and pressed down into Italy and Southern Gaul; the Ostro-Goths
(or East Goths) becoming in time masters of Italy under King Theodoric,
while the Visigoths (or West Goths), who were already in Southern Gaul,
had overflowed the Pyrenees and established a Gothic empire in Spain
(or Hispania, as it was then called).

It was not alone the Goths who were swept before Attila and his Hunnish
hosts.  The Vandals, the Burgundians, the Longobards were carried by
the same tide into Southern Europe; the Vandals thence into northern
Africa; while the Slavs from the northeast in turn pressed down after
them, and, like the waters of the sea, occupied the lands which they
had deserted.

So this Hunnish invasion was a tremendous upturning force--in itself
bearing no relation to the future result more than the plow to the
future grain; but it was a terrible instrument, used in bringing the
German race into contact with higher civilizations, where, in the
alchemy of time, they were destined to survive not as a nation, but
rather as an element, and where, in the great creative processes, they
were intended to re-enforce the decaying races of Southern Europe with
their rude but uncorrupted vitality.

Of the Huns themselves nothing remained in Europe after the defeat of
Attila, excepting in Dacia, over which they had permanently spread, and
which was later called Hungary.

During this process of re-creating the old races of Southern Europe,
the Roman Empire was perishing.  Its conversion to Christianity in the
fourth century, under Constantine, was too late to save it.  For three
hundred years pagan Rome had been drenching the soil of Southern Europe
with the blood of Christians.  Then this zealous new convert not only
espoused the religion of Christ, but determined by her Church Councils
what that religion meant and what it did not mean, and made fierce war
upon heretics like the Gothic Christians, who knew nothing about these
strange doctrines of which Ulfilas had not told them, nor concerning
which did their simple Gothic Bible say one word!  (A conflict between
_Trinitarianism_ and _Arianism_.)

The Roman Empire was the "_Holy_ Roman Empire," now.  When Constantine
removed his capital to Byzantium, it required two Emperors, an Eastern
and a Western, to govern the crumbling mass.  But as the temporal power
declined, there was at Rome a new and spiritual kingdom which was
expanding and claiming an empire over all Christendom.  The Bishops of
Rome had become Popes.  Gaul or France was now governed by the German
Franks.  And the Frankish Kings in France, and the Visigoth Kings in
Spain, and Christians everywhere must bow to the will of the Pope.

But the Roman Emperors were becoming less and less able to protect
their dominions.  The Teuton Lombards had overrun Italy, and at last
the lowest point of degradation seemed to be reached, when the Imperial
Crown at Byzantium was grasped by Irene, who deposed and blinded her
own son in order to reach the throne once occupied by Augustus.

Who could be more fit to fill this august position at the head of
Christendom than Charlemagne, the great conqueror of men and defender
of the Holy Faith?

The coronation of Charlemagne, King of France and Germany, at Rome, in
the year 800, was a revolt of the West against the sluggard Emperors at
Byzantium; just as his father Pepin's had been, fifty years before, a
revolt against the sluggard Kings of France.

Not for 800 years had there been such a commanding personality on the
earth; not since Cæsar hurled his legions into Gaul and Britain had
there been such a display of military genius and valor, and perhaps
never before such a breadth of intelligence in controlling a vast and
heterogeneous empire.

Thenceforth, Charlemagne and his successors (when crowned by the Pope)
were the successors of the Cæsars and the temporal heads of the Holy
Roman Empire.  Excepting in name the once great empire had ceased to be
Roman.  The rude barbarian race which, in the time of Julius Cæsar, was
buried in the forests of Central Europe, was at the head of
Christendom; and under Charlemagne, a map of the German Empire was a
map of Europe.

Charlemagne acknowledged the Pope who crowned him as his spiritual
sovereign, while, on the other hand, the Pope bowed before the Emperor
who appointed him as his temporal sovereign.  It was a magnificent,
all-embracing scheme of empire, of which the spiritual head was at
Rome, and the temporal at Aix-la-Chapelle.

It seemed as if, by this dual supremacy, Charlemagne had provided for
all possible exigencies of human government.  He rested content, no
doubt thinking he had embodied a perfect ideal in creating a system
which should thus co-ordinate and embrace both the spiritual and
temporal needs of an empire.  But as soon as his controlling hand was
removed unexpected dangers assailed his work.

In less than fifty years from his coronation his three grandsons had
quarreled and torn the empire into as many parts.  With this event
France commenced a separate existence as a kingdom and the Imperial
title belonged alone to Germany (treaty of Verdun, 843).

It was the strong, rough arm of the Goth which had hammered in pieces
the Roman Empire and brought these tremendous results for the Teuton
race; but it was the Frank which had survived as the governing power.

These Franks established a new system of land tenure, which combined
the two opposing systems prevailing in North and South Germany.  They
proclaimed that the land belonged to the Crown.  But the Crown, upon
certain conditions, bestowed it upon landholders who were called
barons.  These barons might hold their land from generation to
generation, so long as these conditions were fulfilled.  They, in like
manner, parceled out their lands into farms, which were held by the
class below them upon like conditions of submission and fealty to them.
The people bound themselves to furnish military service and food, and
to work for their barons a specified number of days in the year, and to
receive in return a certain protection, and a refuge within the castle
of their chief.  The baron was responsible to the count who was his
superior, and the count to the King.

This was the feudal system, which was a net-work of reciprocal duties.
No man, be he peasant or count, could call anything his own unless he
discharged his obligations and responsibilities.

The system met great opposition for a time in South Germany; especially
from Welf, Count of Bavaria, from whom the historic Guelphs are
descended.  But it survived, as we know, increasing in oppressive
weight and rigidity, until for centuries it crushed the life out of


One century after Charlemagne, the kingship of Germany ceased to be
hereditary.  The great nobles, or vassals as they were called, elected
the King, who was crowned at Aix.  And then, after the Pope had crowned
him at Rome (but not until then), he was also King of Italy and Emperor
of the Holy Roman Empire.

The condition of Germany was at this time very disordered.  There were
jealousies and conflicts between the various states composing it and
incessant incursions from those troublesome neighbors, the Magyars or
Hungarians, the Turanian people on their southeast border.  This latter
led to an important phase in the development of Germany.  Henry I.,
father of King Otto the Great, in 924 offered these Hungarians a large
yearly tribute if they would cease to annoy his country.  For nine
years the tribute was paid.  The Germans in the meantime were busily
engaged in building fortresses on their frontier, and walled cities
throughout the land.  These were called _burgs_, and were placed under
the command of counts, who were called _Burgraves_.

So, in the tenth year, when the Hungarians insolently demanded their
tribute, Henry threw a dead dog at their messengers' feet, and told
them that was his tribute in the future.

The Hungarians in a fury poured into Germany.  But--lo! instead of
collections of helpless villages lying at their mercy, there were
walled towns which defied all their efforts to capture, and after some
futile attempts the Hungarians troubled Germany no more.

Another important development of this period was an eventful one for
Europe.  There was a large class of young men, younger sons of nobles,
for whom there was no suitable classification.  They were proud and by
necessity were idle.

This same Saxon King Henry invited these young men to serve the empire
in a new and peculiar way.  They must be men of honor and truth; they
must be devoted and loyal to the Holy Roman Empire; never have injured
a weak woman nor run away in battle; they must be gentle and courteous
and brave, and faithful to the Church.

The men who could take these oaths and make these pledges were called
knights, or _Knechts_, servants of the King.  Thus was created the
order of knighthood, which quickly spread over Europe.

The great Charlemagne, in accepting the crown of the Holy Roman Empire
in 800, unconsciously inflicted a deep injury upon the future Germany.
That glittering bauble, the crown of the Cæsars, was very costly, and
retarded the development of Germany for centuries.

That country needed all her resources and energies at home, to solidify
and develop a great nation during its formative period.

Instead of that, for seven hundred years the ambitions of the Kings of
Germany were diverted from what should have been their first care--the
unity and prosperity of their own nation; and were chasing a
phantom--the re-establishment of the great old empire, with Rome as its
heart and center.

Another mistake made by Charlemagne was far-reaching in its

He little suspected the nature and the latent power existing in that
spiritual kingdom with which he formed so close an alliance.  He feared
not the Church, but the ambitious and scheming nobles.  So, in order to
create a friendly bulwark about the throne, he made some of the
archbishops and bishops secular princes, and bestowed upon them
dominions over which they might reign as sovereigns.

The Church, which had not been growing any too spiritual since it was
adopted by Rome, was more and more secularized when it had Primates
ravenous for wealth and power.

The Pope and Emperor, instead of close allies as Charlemagne had
intended, had finally become jealous and angry rivals.  In the open
warfare which in time developed two political parties came into
being--the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, which represented the adherents
of the Pope and the Emperor.

It was a part of the settled policy of the Popes to stir up strife in
Italy, and thus, by compelling the Emperor to pour his revenues and his
energies into that land, to weaken and undermine him at home.

For the first five hundred years of its existence the Church had been
governed by the bishops of Rome.  In the next five hundred years these
bishops had grown into Popes, who were the spiritual heads of
Christendom.  As the Church was entering upon its third
five-hundred-year lease in the year 1073, the miter was worn by the
fiery monk, Hildebrand, who had become Gregory VII.  This man resolved
to establish the supremacy of the Church over the secular arm of the
government.  As a weak Emperor wore the Imperial crown, the time was
favorable for claiming a religious empire existing by divine right, and
superior to the will of kings and emperors.

In the conflict which followed Henry IV. deposed the Pope--this
creature of his own appointing, who would override the authority of the
power which had created him!  And as a counter-move the Pope
excommunicated the Emperor.

Had Henry stood his ground as he might, for he would have had ample
support from his people, it would have been a gain of centuries for
Europe..  But the ban of excommunication, with its attendant horrors
here, and still worse hereafter--it was more than he could bear.
Affrighted, trembling, penitent, he crossed the Alps in dead of winter,
crept to the castle of Canossa, near Parma, where Hildebrand had taken
refuge; and there this successor to Charlemagne, this ruler of all
Christendom, standing barefoot and clad in sackcloth shirt, humbly
begged admittance.  The Pope's triumph was complete.  So he let him
shiver for three days in cold and rain before he opened the gates and
gave him forgiveness and the kiss of peace.

The Church had never scored so tremendous a victory.  She was supreme
over every earthly authority, and the hands on the face of time were
set back for centuries.  Let Guelph and Ghibelline storm and struggle
as they might, there was no question of supremacy now between temporal
and spiritual heads.  All the lines of power, all the threads of human
destiny led to Rome, and were found at last in the papal hand.

In the three centuries of its existence the empire had been ruled first
by Frank, and then by Saxon emperors.  But the eventful visit to
Canossa led to a new dynasty, the Swabian.  When that humiliated
monarch, Henry IV., crossed the Alps in midwinter, when Europe's
mightiest prince stood woolen-frocked and barefoot upon the snow for
three days, humbly entreating forgiveness, there was one knight who
attended him with marked fidelity.  This was Frederick of Büren, and
verily he had his reward!  The Emperor created him Duke of Swabia, and
bestowed upon him his daughter Agnes as his wife.

The Duke of Swabia then built himself a castle on a high plateau of
land called Hohenstaufen.  But this fortunate duke had also another
great estate called Waiblingen.  So he was Frederick of Hohenstaufen,
and of Waiblingen as well.  The last name had a very conspicuous
destiny awaiting it.

The dukes of Bavaria had been a great power in Germany, ever since that
first stormy Welf, who tried to put down the new-fangled system of
land-tenure which we know as feudalism!

These Welfs were evidently not progressive; they seem in fact to have
been the Tories of ancient Germany.  And when Conrad, grandson of
Frederick, the first Hohenstaufen, was elected King of Germany, there
was a very stormy time.  The people divided into two factions: the
adherents of the new dynasty and the Emperor in the one, and the
malcontents who were led by Welf, Duke of Bavaria, in the other.  As
hostility to the Emperor meant friendship with the Pope, this party of
the Welfs was also that of the papal faction.

The tongue of the Italian could not master the two words Welf and
Waiblingen; which, as they became fastened upon the two political
factions in Italy, were changed to Guelph and Ghibelline.

The Waiblingen family long ago disappeared.  But the ancient name of
Welf is represented to-day by the gracious Queen of England.

The party of the Guelphs in Germany was that of disaffected dukes and
nobles, who from personal or other reasons desired to embarrass the
Emperor, even to the extent of an alliance with his enemy the Pope.

The Ghibellines expressed the anti-papal sentiment of the people, among
whom there was a growing dread and hatred of Romish power, and the time
was approaching when Teutonic patriotism would mean resistance to
Italian priestcraft.

While this antagonism was developing, the most stupendous event in all
history was taking place in Europe.  The Christian conscience--more
sensitive than it is to-day--had been roused to a frenzy of indignation
by Mahomedan outrages in the Holy Land.  That first "European Concert"
had been formed to drive the Mahomedan out of the land, where a concert
of Europe is striving to keep him undisturbed to-day!

This time of a great religious war was not favorable for an anti-papal
policy in Germany.  Conrad allowed himself to be swept into the
current.  He headed a great Crusade in the year 1147.

Not one tithe of his vast host ever reached the Holy Land.  They melted
like the dew before disease, starvation, and the sword of the Moslems
in Asia Minor.

When the despondent Conrad returned to Germany he brought back one
lasting memorial of his ill-fated Crusade.  He had seen at
Constantinople, on the Imperial standard of the Byzantine Emperor, a
double-headed eagle.  This representation of a double empire he
determined to adopt for the emblem of his own, and hence it is that it
exists to-day on the Austrian standard, and upon the coins of Germany
and Austria.

It was well for Germany that, while she was thus torn and distracted by
contending political factions, and while her life blood was being
drained into Italy, Frederick I., or Barbarossa (1152), came to hold
the reins of government as they had not been held since Charlemagne.

This great Hohenstaufen threw his lion-like weight into the controversy
concerning Papal and Imperial supremacy.  He spurned the pretensions of
the Pope and his encroachments upon secular authority.

He claimed that his office was from God--not from the Pope; and that it
was not a whit less sacred than his rival's.  To which the Pope
replied: "Who was the Frank before Pope Zacharias befriended Pepin? and
what is the Teutonic King now, till consecrated by papal hands?  What
he gives, can he not withdraw?"

But the Imperial power never reached such height as under this
imperious, commanding Teuton; who exists now as a half-mythic hero,
honored in picture, statue, song, and legend throughout Germany.  His
reign was a splendid fight against the two antagonists which were
finally to be fatal to the Empire--Italian nationality and the Papacy.

The knighthood established by his Saxon predecessor, in 930, had during
the Crusades expanded into great orders of chivalry throughout Europe.
Frederick Barbarossa fostered and brought the chivalry of Germany to
great splendor.

He also brought to an end the long and destructive feud between the
Welfs and the Waiblingers, pacifying the former by bestowing upon them
the territory of Brunswick; to which fact England owes her present
Queen, who is a daughter of the house of Brunswick.

For many centuries the people believed the legend that their hero had
not died in Palestine; but they pointed to the mouth of a great cavern
on the frowning heights of the Kyfhäuser mountain, where he was said to
be surrounded by his knights in an enchanted sleep; waiting the hour
when he should awaken and descend with his Crusaders, to bring back a
golden age of peace and unity to Germany!


There are three conditions in national life of which all nations more
or less partake.  One is where the elements combine with a tendency
toward organic development; another, where these elements fall apart
with a tendency toward disintegration; and still another, where all
processes, constructive and destructive, are arrested as in a crystal.
The United States, the Ottoman Empire, and China illustrate these three
conditions to-day.

The Teuton, who had been such a powerful element in renovating other
European nations, had thus far seemed incapable of consolidating his
own national life when left to himself.  The tendency was steadily
toward disintegration rather than growth.

This was not alone because the strength of the Teutonic kingdom was
wasted in pursuit of that glittering toy bestowed by the Pope; but on
account of internal strifes and rivalries which employed the hostile
schemes of the Roman Pontiff for their own ends and purposes.

The rivalry with the Pope, in itself a destructive element, was made
still more destructive when it was thus used by disaffected dukes as a
means of annoying and circumventing Emperors whom they disliked.

A Frederick Barbarossa might arrest these processes for a time.  But
one century later the ruin was complete.

Frederick II., the last of the Hohenstaufens, died, leaving an empty
throne and a broken and shattered empire.  It was destined to rise
again and to wear the name and trappings of its former greatness, but,
crippled and degraded, to be in reality a mere shadow and semblance of
what it had once aspired to be--the head of the world.

A period of twenty years then followed, known as the "Great
Interregnum."  A time when there was no King nor Emperor; when robbery
and brigandage became the employment of needy knights, and when great
barons made war upon and waylaid each other on the highways.

It was a time of strange chaos and darkness.  And yet this period,
apparently so unfavorable to growth, brought forth two of the most
pregnant events in the history of Germany.  These were the creation of
the Hanseatic League and the birth of German literature.  The one laid
the foundation of a real national life in which the people should
participate; while the other gave expression to the romantic ideals of
a hitherto silent race.

The great German epic, which is the Iliad of the Middle Ages, was
produced at this darkest hour in the history of Germany.  The
Nibelungen Lied deals with the colossal crimes, loves, and sorrows of
Burgundian kings and princesses at the time of the Hunnish invasion.
And it has been the good fortune of Germany, six hundred years later,
to have a son (Richard Wagner) who has clothed that great epic in music
which matches it in heroic dignity and splendor.

The other event was of deeper import than this.  The burgs, or cities,
which were created as a defense against the Hungarians, had become busy
centers of manufacture and trade, and to some extent of learning.  Many
of them had been made free cities.  That is, they were under the direct
control of the Emperors instead of the hereditary nobles as at first.
These cities enjoyed especial privileges and immunities which drew to
them population and prosperity.  The true policy for German Emperors,
harassed by Italian intrigues and at war with their own archbishops and
disaffected nobles, would have been to form close alliance with these
free cities, and make friends of their burghers and guilds.

When there was no king, no ruler in the land, when robbery ran riot so
that traveling was impossible, two cities, Hamburg and Lubeck, agreed
together to keep order in their neighborhood.  Then Brunswick and
Bremen joined; and at last over a hundred towns had combined together
in what was called the "Hanseatic League."

This Confederacy became the mightiest power in the North of Europe; and
at one time even threatened the overthrow of feudalism, and to convert
West Germany into a federation of free municipalities.

When trades increased in the cities, each trade managed its own affairs
by an organization called a _guild_.  The guilds in the course of time
obtained a share in the government of the towns; and it was the
regenerating power of these guilds which brought about this great
movement.  With their simple ideals of truth, sincerity, and justice,
they were the storehouses of that power which is the real life of a
nation.  As well expect a tree to flourish when its sap is not
permitted to rise, or a man to be well when the blood is obstructed in
his veins, as to look for healthful growth and expansion in a nation
from which the life of its common people is excluded!

Among these early guilds, that of the Meistersingers, which was
chartered in 1340, was of vast importance in the development of the
German people.

It was composed of artisans and governed by the strict, pedantic rules
then existing in the arts of musical and literary composition.

The prizes did not confer as great an honor as those bestowed at
Olympia two thousand years before, but they were sought with an intense

The soul of the Teuton was by nature set to music.  For him that art
was not a luxury reserved for the rich and cultured, but the daily food
which nourished the life of the most untutored.  Within this musical
and literary guild the two arts of music and poetry for centuries
existed in their most elementary form, and were the soil out of which
later came such marvelous blossom and fruit.


Germany, which had always been a loosely compacted mass, was at the
close of the Hohenstaufen dynasty composed of 60 independent cities,
116 priestly rulers, and 100 reigning dukes, princes, counts, and
barons, always rivals and usually at war with each other, in
perpetually changing combinations for attack or defense.

Lying beneath this body of small and struggling sovereigns was a people
in whom was the first dawning consciousness of human rights; which
consciousness was gradually extending to that helpless mass underlying
the whole--the peasantry.

In 1273 the German princes succeeded in electing an Emperor; and the
Great Interregnum was over.

It is a curious fact that the two names _Hapsburg_ and _Hohenzollern_
should have appeared simultaneously in German history.  Rudolf, Count
of Hapsburg, through the influence of his brother-in-law Frederick of
Hohenzollern, Count of Nuremburg, was chosen to fill the vacant throne.
It was during the reign of Albert, son of this first Hapsburg, that the
Swiss first revolted against imperial authority.

Gessler, who had been sent by Albert to subdue the refractory Alpine
shepherds, so exasperated them by his atrocities that he was shot by
William Tell.  It was a long way from Tell to Swiss freedom and
independence.  But the people from that hour never wavered in their
determination not to be serfs to the house of Hapsburg.

The Hanseatic League in North Germany, and the invincibly free spirit
in Switzerland, were the two things of deepest significance at this
time of political chaos.

Side by side with this assertion of political rights, there had
commenced a general intellectual awakening.  The Bishop of Ratisbon,
Albertus Magnus, was so learned in mathematics and in science that
people believed he was a sorcerer.[1]  Godfrey of Strasburg had written
an epic poem about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
Wolfram of Eschenbach had told of the Holy Grail in his Parsifal; and a
learned history of Denmark had been written, without which our own
literature would have suffered immeasurable loss, for in it Shakspeare
found the story of Hamlet!

It was at this time (1356) that the famous "Golden Bull" was issued, a
new electoral system, which reduced the number of electors to seven.

The idea was that as the sun and the seven planets illumined our
heavens, so that great luminary, the German Emperor, should be the
center of a political system composed of seven Electors.

These earthly luminaries, whose duty it was to elect a new Emperor,
were the Archbishops of Mainz, Cologne, and Trèves, and the temporal
princes of Bohemia, Brandenburg, Saxony, and the Palatine of the Rhine.

The very first act of these seven wise men was to place upon the throne
Wenceslas, a brutal madman, who might better have been confined as a

It was during the reign of his brother and successor Sigismund that the
burning of John Huss lighted the conflagration in Bohemia known as the
Hussite War.

John Huss, a professor of the University of Prague, had dared to raise
his voice against the temporal enrichment of a church whose Founder had
not where to lay his head, and who had put behind him the kingdoms of
this earth, when offered to him by Satan!

Huss, for this offense, came under the displeasure of the bishops.
Charges were brought against him that he had maintained the existence
of four Gods, and he was condemned and burnt (1415).

The Hussite war had none of the reforming purpose which led to the
martyrdom they wished to avenge.  It was a mad strife, beginning over
some detail of the Communion Service, and ending in a war between
Bohemian and German, in which for nearly twenty years the country ran
with blood.

At this period an event occurred of trifling significance then, but of
profound importance to future Germany.

In 1411 the Emperor borrowed one hundred thousand florins of Frederick
of Hohenzollern, the Burgrave, or "Count of the Castle," of Nuremburg,
direct descendant from that first Hohenzollern who helped to found the
Hapsburg dynasty.  For this loan Sigismund gave his creditor a mortgage
on the territory of Brandenburg.  Frederick at once took up his
residence there, and subsequently made an offer of three hundred
thousand gold florins more to purchase the territory.  The Emperor
accepted the terms, so the then small state was thereafter the home of
the Hohenzollerns, and was on its way to become Prussia.

Sigismund and his brother Wenceslas belonged to another dynasty, that
of Luxemburg.  But after the death of the former, in 1440, the
Hapsburgs succeeded again to the crown, which they wore until it was
taken off at the bidding of Napoleon in 1806.

Just before the issuance of the Golden Bull, there had occurred that
most revolutionary event, the discovery of gunpowder.  When a man in
leathern jacket could do more than a knight in armor, when safety
depended upon quickness and lightness, and ponderous iron and steel
were fatal--then a momentous change in conditions was at hand!  The
destruction of feudalism was involved in this discovery of 1344.

Under Frederick III., that Hapsburg who came to the throne in 1440, the
Empire seemed to have reached a climax of disorder.  Old things were
passing away, and the new had not yet come to take their place.

On the eastern shore of the Baltic the march of German civilization had
received an almost fatal check.  The "German Order," an organization of
knights intended to keep back the Slavonic tide, had failed to do so.
Holland was becoming estranged from the German Empire.  France had
obtained possession of Flanders.  Luxemburg, Lorraine, and Burgundy
were becoming practically independent; while it began to seem as if
Switzerland were forever lost to Germany.

And now the Hungarians were setting up their new king, the valiant
Hunyadi; and the Bohemians theirs, George of Podjebrod.  Not only were
these kingdoms and principalities slipping away, but the peasants in
the cantons of the Alps, and elsewhere in revolt, were some of them led
by great nobles.

Still another, and perhaps the gravest of all these dangers, was one
which yet darkens our horizon in this closing nineteenth century!

In the year 1250 the Turks had commenced their existence in Asia Minor,
with one little clan, led by one obscure chieftain.  This clan had
grown as if by miracle into a great empire in the East, rivaling in
power that of the Saracens, whose successors they were as the head of
the Mahomedan Empire.  The Turks had been steadily encroaching upon
Germany; had made havoc in Hungary; had devastated Austria, and were
now insolently pressing on toward their goal, the Imperial palace at

While the incompetent and drowsy Emperor Frederick III. was helplessly
viewing these stupendous overturnings, there occurred that other event,
as important in the empire of thought as the invention of gunpowder had
been in that of political institutions.

The invention of printing (1450),--that art preservative of all
arts,--was the greatest step yet taken in the emancipation of the human

The poor inventor was, after the manner of inventors, badly treated.
John Fust, on account of Gutenberg's inability to pay back the money he
had loaned him for his experiment, seized the printing press, and
himself proceeded to finish printing the Bible.

The rapidity with which the copies were produced, and their precise
resemblance to each other, created such astonishment that a report
spread that Fust had sold himself to the devil, with whom he was in

This, together with the identity of names, led Victor Hugo, Klinger,
and other writers to confuse John Fust, the practicer of the Black Art
in mediæval times, with John Fust the printer.  And as the original
Fust had come to stand for the emancipation of the human intellect
through free learning, and as printing was above all else the means for
such emancipation, the coincidence, if such it be, was, to say the
least, remarkable!

When we approach the time of Isabella of Castile and of Columbus, and
when we are confronted with that familiar specter, the Turk, in
Southeastern Europe, we feel that we are in sight of the lights on
familiar headlands, and are not far from port.  We are not very near to
that haven, but we are passing the line which divides the old from the

[1] See chart of Civilization in Six Centuries, "Who, When, and What."


It was not alone in Germany that the old was vanishing.  The movement
in that country was part of a general condition prevailing in England,
France, and Spain; all with the same tendency--the passing of the power
from many small despotisms to one greater one.  It was an advance,
although a slow one, in the path of progress.  Feudalism--that
newfangled system which had so tried the soul of Duke Welf in the ninth
century--was dissolving.

In England the war with France, and the War of the Roses, by
impoverishing the nobles had broken their remaining authority, and that
system which had been gradually perishing since the Conquest was
virtually dead.

In France Louis XI. had cunningly conceived the idea of recovering the
power of the throne by an apparent friendship with the people; and a
combination was thus formed against which a decrepit feudalism could
not long stand.

In Spain the smaller kingdoms had at last been merged into two larger
ones, and by the union of Castile and Aragon under Ferdinand and
Isabella, and the expulsion of the Moors which quickly followed that
event, that country was at last consolidated into one kingdom--in which
feudalism no longer existed as a disturbing power.

In northern Italy also, among that brilliant group of small republics,
there was this same centralizing tendency at work.  Florence had passed
into the strong keeping of the Medici (1434), while Genoa and most of
the Lombard republics were gravitating toward the control of Milan.

It was at this period that there were for the first time formed those
combinations and alliances between the nations of Europe which led
finally to a system existing for the preservation of the _balance of
power_.  In fact, after the various monarchies had assumed these firmer
and more definite outlines, there began a process of weaving them
together into a larger whole; and the threads used in this process are
known as _European diplomacy_, which, as we have recently seen, is
stronger than individual sovereigns!

It was perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the fifteenth century
that the Imperial throne of Germany should be occupied, at this time of
centralizing tendencies, by a man determined not alone to reign but to

Maximilian I., son of the sleepy Frederick III., was chosen by the
electors in 1486.  He was full of energy, intelligence, and heart, and
was, besides, the handsomest prince in Europe, and his wife, Mary of
Burgundy, was the fairest of princesses.

The people, weary of disorder and insecurity, were glad to feel the
touch of a strong hand.  Maximilian firmly planted the foundations of
the house of Hapsburg.  From that time the choice of the Electors was
merely a formal recognition of the hereditary rights of that family.

This prince, standing on the dividing line between the old and new,
possessed the qualities of both.  He was stately, brave, and chivalric,
and at the same time educated according to the highest standards of his
time, devoted to literature, art, and poetry, and with comprehensive
and progressive plans for his kingdom.  He had a sincere desire to
reform abuses.  He introduced into Germany the post office, and the
system for the conveyance of letters, throughout two thousand
independent territories!

The Turks were advancing on the east, the French King was harassing him
on the west, and the Pope always trying to embroil him with other
kingdoms and to drain his Empire.  His was not an easy task.

He was not a Charlemagne nor a Frederick Barbarossa, but he infused
strength and a power of resistance into Germany at a period of extreme
weakness, and he reunited to the house of Hapsburg the kingdoms of
Hungary and Bohemia.

There was evidence that the long thraldom to Rome was passing away, in
the fact that Maximilian assumed Imperial authority without receiving
the crown from papal hands; his father Frederick having been the last
Emperor who made pilgrimage to Rome for that purpose (in 1452).

When Maximilian came to the throne in 1493 an event of transcendent
importance had just occurred.  Europe had learned with amazement that
when the sun disappeared in that mysterious Western Ocean, it passed on
to shine upon other lands beyond--lands teeming with life and riches.

The most fascinating field for adventure the world had ever known was
suddenly opened to Europe, and the magnet of boundless wealth was
transferred from the East to the West.  A stream of adventurous and
rapacious men, from all the lands excepting Germany, was moving toward
the setting sun.

Spain, only recently obscure, poor and struggling to free her land from
an alien race, suddenly found herself mistress of her own territory,
consolidated, and with an empire and resources in the West, practically

The good Queen Isabella, who had been the instrumentality in bringing
about these changes for her country, had the satisfaction of seeing her
kingdom at one bound take its place in the first rank among the nations
of Europe.

Her chief care now was to make alliances for her children suited to
this new position.  She and Ferdinand aimed high.  They secured the
daughter of Maximilian, Emperor of Germany, for their son, who was heir
to the crown of Spain; but the hopes from this union were quickly
blighted, as the young prince suddenly died during the wedding
festivities.  Then another marriage was arranged for their oldest
daughter Joanna with Philip, Maximilian's son, who was also heir to the
Imperial throne.

But Isabella's sorrows matched her triumphs and successes in magnitude.
Joanna became hopelessly insane.  Another daughter, who married the
King of Portugal, was buried in the same grave with the infant who was
expected to unite the crowns of Spain and Portugal, while for her
youngest child Katharine was reserved the unhappy fate of becoming the
wife of Henry VIII. of England.

It is sad to remember that this admirable woman, in her intense desire
to drive heretic Jews out of her country, was prevailed upon, by her
confessor Torquemada, to establish the Inquisition in Spain.  Believing
as she devoutly did that heresy meant eternal death, and little
suspecting the engine for cruelty it was to become, this kindest and
best of women may be forgiven for this fatal mistake.

Overwhelmed by private griefs and sorrows, Isabella died in 1506,
leaving her crazed daughter Joanna a widow, with two sons, the elder
six years old.  She would have been consoled could she have known that,
in thirteen years from that time, this grandson would wear not alone
the crown of Spain, but the great Imperial crown of Germany, and would
be lord of a greater empire, and wield more power, than any living


The period of Maximilian's reign was a bridge which spanned two
colossal events: the discovery of America and the Reformation.  When
this Emperor died in 1517, a greater work was at hand than any he or
his predecessors had ever accomplished, and the humble man who was to
be its instrument was destined to become a power above all princes, and
to shake the Church of Rome to its foundation after an undisturbed
reign of a thousand years.

The Reformation had long been preparing in the hearts of the people.
The persecutions of the Albigenses in France, the Waldenses in Savoy,
and the burning of Huss and of Jerome, had all come from the growing
conviction that the Bible was the only true source of Christian truth
and doctrine.

The art of printing had made this well of pure truth accessible to all,
and there was a deep though unspoken belief in the hearts and minds of
the people that a church grasping at secular power and riches had
wandered far from the simple teachings of its Founder.

These smoldering fires were very near to the surface when Maximilian
died.  Charles, his grandson, was then King of Spain.  The ambitious
Francis I. of France struggled hard for the crown laid down by the
Emperor, but, in 1519, it was placed upon the head of his rival, and
Charles V. was the first of whom it could be said that the sun never
set upon his dominions.

At this most critical moment in the history of the world, the fate of
Europe was in the hands of three men: Charles V., Emperor of Germany;
Francis I., King of France, and Henry VIII., King of England.

Charles, half Fleming and half Spaniard, had the grasping
acquisitiveness of the one nation, and the proud, fanatical cruelty of
the other.  Small of stature, plain in feature, sedate, quiet, crafty,
he was playing a desperate game with Francis I. for supremacy in Europe.

Francis, handsome as an Apollo, accomplished, fascinating, profligate,
was fully his match in ambition.  Covering his worst qualities with a
gorgeous mantle of generosity and chivalrous sense of honor, he was the
insidious corrupter of morals in France, creating a sentiment which
laughed at virtue and innocence as qualities belonging to a lower class
of society.

Each of these men was striving to enlist Henry VIII. upon his side, by
appealing to the cruel caprices of that vain, ostentatious, arrogant
King, who in turn tried to use them for the furthering of his own
desires and purposes.

It was a sort of triangular game between the three monarchs--a game
full of finesse and far-reaching designs.  If Charles attacked Francis,
Henry attacked Charles, while the astute Charles, knowing well the
desire of the English King to repudiate Katharine and make Anne Boleyn
his queen, whispered seductive promises of the papal chair to Wolsey,
who was in turn to establish his own influence over his royal master by
bringing about the marriage with Anne, upon which the King's heart was
set, and then be rewarded by securing Henry's promise of neutrality for
Charles, in his designs of overreaching Francis--and, after that, the
road to Rome for the aspiring cardinal would be a straight one!

It was an intricate diplomatic net-work, in which the thread of Henry's
desire for the fair Anne was mingled with Wolsey's desire for
preferment, and both interlaced with the ambitious, far-reaching
purposes of the other two monarchs.

All these events were very absorbing, and while they were splendidly
gilding the surface of Europe in the first half of the sixteenth
century, it seemed a small matter that an obscure monk was denouncing
the Pope and defying the power of the Catholic Church.  Little did
Charles suspect that, when his victories and edicts were forgotten, the
words of the insolent heretic would still be echoing down the ages.

A few years later, and the Apollo-like beauty and false heart of
Francis I. were dissolving in the grave; Henry VIII. had gone to
another world, to meet his reward--and his wives; and Charles V. was
sadly counting his beads in the monastery of St. Jerome, at Juste,
reflecting upon the vanity of human ambitions.  But the murmur of
protest from the unknown monk had become a roar--the rivulet had
swollen into a threatening torrent.  As it is the invisible forces that
are the most powerful in nature, so it is the obscure and least
observed events that have accomplished the most tremendous revolutions
in human affairs.

But before all this had happened, in the year 1517, when it had not yet
occurred to Henry's sensitive conscience that his marriage with
Katharine, his brother's widow, was illegal, and while Charles V., that
sedate young man, who "looked so modest and soared so high," was
quietly revolving plans for the extension of his empire, Pope Leo X.,
the pious Vicar of Christ upon earth, and elegant patron of Michael
Angelo and Raphael, found his income all too small for his magnificent
tastes.  It does not seem to have occurred to him that his tastes were
too costly for his income; he simply recognized that something must be
done, and at once, to fill his empty purse.  But what should it be?  A
simple and ingenious expedient solved the perplexing problem.  He would
issue a proclamation to his "loving, faithful children," that he would
grant absolution for all sorts of crimes, the prices graduated to suit
the enormity of the offense.  We have not seen the proclamation, but
doubt not it was in most caressing Latin, for can anything exceed the
velvety softness of the gloves worn on the hands which have signed
papal decrees?

Simple lying and slander were cheap; perjury and sins against chastity
more costly; while the use of the stiletto, of poison, and the hired
assassin could be enjoyed only by the richest.  It worked well.  In the
hopeful words of a pious dignitary, "as soon as the money chinks in the
coffer, the soul springs out of purgatory."  Who could resist such
promise?  Money flowed in swollen streams into the thirsty coffers,
many even paying in advance for crimes they intended to commit!

Martin Luther was the one man who dared to stand up and denounce this
tax upon crime, this papal trade in vice.  The people had at last found
a voice and a leader.

Protestantism, which had long been maturing in silence and in darkness,
sprang full-armed into existence, and was the first thing to confront
Charles when he assumed the Imperial crown.

He, no doubt, thought that he would soon be able to dispose of the new
heresy, as had his royal father and mother in Spain disposed of heretic
Jews a few years before.  But this new specter of Protestantism would
not down!

When Charles called together an assembly of states (or Diet) at Worms,
in 1521, he supposed he was going to deal with one obscure monk,
leading an obscure movement.  But it assumed quite a different aspect
when Luther, the culprit, was sustained by two great electors and many
princes of his realm; and when a long list of grievances against the
Papacy was formally presented by several states, which he was firmly
told he would be required to redress!

The princes were in earnest.  They began to seize church property, to
send monks and nuns adrift, and to make free with gold and silver
vessels and treasure belonging to the Church.

This time of confusion was used by one ambitious ruler for his own
ends.  The German, or Teutonic, order was a knightly organization
created expressly to hold the frontier against the Slavonic people.
After the year 1230 this order held Prussia, which they ruled like
princes.  The Margrave of Brandenburg, who was at the time of the
Reformation Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, realized his
opportunity in the existing disorder.  He made himself sovereign over
Prussia, and annexed the possessions of the Teutonic order to his

But it was not alone the princes who saw their opportunity in this time
of overturning.  The wrongs of the peasants were very real and very
grievous, and of long, long standing.  The entire burden of taxation
rested on them--the archbishops and the nobles and the _gentlemen_ all
being exempt!

When the Reformation began the _bauer_, or peasantry, believed that
their hope lay in the abolishing of Catholicism and of the feudal

It takes a very small spark to fire a train of gunpowder.  When the
Countess of Lüpfen ordered the peasants on her estate to spend their
Sundays in picking strawberries and gathering snail shells for
pincushions, she dropped such a spark!  They refused, and the revolt
spread, gathering in fury as it moved like a cyclone through the German
states.  All throughout Germany there are to be seen, to-day, ruined
castles which tell the story of this "Peasants' War" (1525).  Hideous
atrocities were committed, and, as has so often happened, the cause of
a people whose grievances were real and heartrending was so stained
with crime that sympathy with and pity for their sufferings were
obliterated.  Even Luther--whose followers they claimed to be--said of
them, "they should be treated as a man would treat a mad dog."

The bold stand taken by Luther against this rebellion strengthened him
with the princes.  Not only Saxony, Hesse, and Brunswick and many free
cities, but the Augustine order of monks, a part of the Franciscans,
and a number of priests had embraced the new doctrine contained in the
"Augsburg Confession," the creed or summary of belief which was
prepared by Luther's friend, Philip Melancthon.

The principles asserted in this were that men are justified by faith
alone; that an assembly of believers constitutes a Church; that
monastic vows, invocation of saints, fasting, celibacy, etc., are

Such were the chief points in the celebrated "Confession," which was
signed by the Protestant cities and princes in 1530.

So while Charles was engaged in his great game of finesse with Francis
I. and Henry VIII. for preponderance in Europe--while the Turks were
pressing toward Vienna on the east, and the French into Flanders on the
west, and while the Pope, who should have been his ally, jealous of his
power was circumventing and weakening him so far as he could, worse
than all else, the foundations of the Protestant Church were being
permanently laid in Germany.

The two great aims of the Emperor were to restore papal supremacy over
Christendom and firmly to unite Germany and Spain.  But how could he do
the one, when at the hour of a great schism in the Church, a jealous
Pope was trying to weaken his hands?  Or the other, when Germany was
always suspicious of him because he was a Spaniard, and Spain because
he was a Hapsburg?

Charles was profound in his methods, crafty and powerful; but
circumstances were stronger than he.  In order to succeed at one point,
he had to weaken himself at another.  He could do nothing in repelling
the Turks or the French, unless aided by the Protestant states.  And
these states would only give assistance in exchange for concessions to
their cause, while Francis I., as crafty as he, found a sure way to
circumvent his rival in giving aid to the Protestants.

The new faith was spreading not only in Germany, but in Denmark,
Sweden, and England.  The movement in Switzerland diverged somewhat in
character under Zwingli, another Reformer, and the new Protestantism
began to have its own schismatics.

Calvin in Geneva rejected Luther's doctrine of _justification by
faith_, and for it substituted that of _election_.  The doctrine that
men were predestined to heaven or hell was thereafter held by that
branch of the Church known as Reformers, as distinguished from the
Lutherans, while from the _protest_ of Saxony, Brandenburg, Brunswick,
Hesse, and fifteen imperial cities against the decree outlawing Luther
and his doctrines, the name Protestants took its rise, which included
Lutherans and Reformers alike.

The famous Schmalkaldian League was so called from the little Hessian
town where the Protestant princes assembled in 1530 and made a solemn
promise of mutual support against the Emperor; when they also entered
into a secret treaty with Francis I., and received promises of support
from the Kings of England, Sweden, and Denmark.

In 1540 the strength of the Catholics had been re-enforced by the order
of Jesuits, which was founded by Ignatius Loyola.  This order made the
suppression of Protestant doctrines its chief task.

Meyerbeer has, by his great opera, made so famous the strange tragedy
enacted at Münster in 1534 that it must have brief mention, although it
was only a bit of driftwood in the great current of events.  A
religious sect called the Anabaptists was led by a Dutch tailor, John
of Leyden, who claimed to be inspired.  The chief things he was
inspired to do were to crown himself king, to introduce polygamy, and
to cut off the heads of all who resisted his decrees!  For more than a
year the city was held by this madman and his associates; and then the
tragedy was concluded by the torturing to death of the tailor-king and
his chief abettors; their bodies being left suspended in iron cages
over the Cathedral door at Münster.  This grewsome story is the one
used by Meyerbeer in his opera of "Le Prophète."

In 1552 Charles saw his ambitious plans for the government of the world
failing at every point.  By the treaty of Passau, religious freedom had
been conceded to the Protestants; and while his army was needed to
fight the Turks in Hungary, Henry II. of France (who had succeeded
Francis I., 1547), in league with the Protestant states, was invading

Sick at heart and failing in health, the weary Emperor (1556) resolved
to lay down the heavy crown he had worn for thirty-six years.

To his son Philip II. he gave the Netherlands, Naples, Spain, and the
American Colonies, while the Imperial title, and the German-Austrian
lands passed to his brother Ferdinand I.

The singular cause of his death, two years later, makes us wonder
whether his unfortunate mother Joanna could have transmitted to her son
the insanity which darkened her own life.

At the monastery at St. Juste to which the Imperial monk had retired
after his abdication, he yielded to a morbid whim to rehearse his own
funeral.  The grave-clothes were damp.  He was seized with a chill, and
after a brief illness died (1558).

Charles had been thwarted in his two great aims of establishing the
supremacy of his Church, and the permanent union of Germany and Spain.
But perhaps his bitterest disappointment was in not being permitted to
leave the Imperial crown to his son Philip.

His brother Ferdinand, although firmly Catholic, was a just and
moderate prince, who had always favored conciliatory measures to the
Protestants while the course of Philip II., in the Netherlands, soon
showed how heavily his hand would have rested upon Germany.  He
appointed the Duke of Alva Spanish governor in that unfortunate
territory.  Never had cruel king more cruel agent in carrying out his
policy.  Torture, fire, and sword were the instruments intended to
subjugate, but which in the end brought about the independence of

The prelates of the Church in 1543 had come together in what was called
the "Council of Trent," with the avowed object of reforming abuses
which had crept into the Church.  The real purpose, however, was to
examine the foundations of that venerable structure, to discover where
it had been injured in the assaults made upon it since 1517, and to
strengthen it where it seemed to need new supports.

In 1563, after eighteen years' deliberation, the work of this Council
was finished.  The cardinal doctrines of purgatory, absolution,
celibacy, invocation of saints, censorship of press, etc., etc., were
reaffirmed, and terrible anathemas pronounced against such as should
reject them.

Thus was created a chasm which nothing could ever bridge, eternally
dividing the old religion from the new.

Another tremendously re-enforcing agent was at work in Loyola's Society
of Jesus, which was to be to the Church what the brain is to the human
body.  In 1540 Loyola's ten disciples received the papal blessing.  In
1600 there were ten million Jesuits, and in 1700 twenty millions!


It was the invincible march of Protestantism in the land of its birth
which brought about this buttressing of the old belief and this
adopting of fresh methods for its efficiency.

When Ferdinand died in 1564 the great majority of the German people had
become Protestants.  The Empire was honeycombed with the new faith.
Even in Austria, that everlasting stronghold of Papacy, the Catholics
were in a minority.  True to the traditions of the past, Bavaria, the
home of the ancient Welfs, was the one thoroughly zealous and obedient
champion of the Pope in all Germany.

It seemed as if the great conflict was almost over.  But it had not
even commenced!

The history of this great movement would have been very different, had
it been carried on steadily under one leader.  But it had four!  Those
devout souls who believed they had found in the simple gospel truths of
Protestantism a religion in which all might unite were soon convinced
of their mistake.

Lulled by the apparent triumph of the new faith, reformers set about
the task of defining the belief and correcting the errors of Protestant
doctrine.  To the followers of Calvin the belief of the Lutherans
became almost as abhorrent as Papacy itself, while the Lutherans were
again subdivided into an extreme and a moderate party; the one
following to the letter the doctrines of Luther, and the other the more
modified views of Melancthon.  Not only men but states were divided and
in bitter strife over these differences, so that the Emperor Ferdinand
had said, "Instead of being of one mind they are so disunited, have so
many different beliefs, the God of truth surely cannot be with them!"

It is apparent now that the issue underlying all this upheaval was
deeper than anyone then knew.  The real struggle was not for the
supremacy of Romanist or Protestant; not to determine whether this
dogma or that was true and should prevail, but to establish the right
of every human soul to choose its own faith and form of worship.  The
great battle for human liberty had commenced, and the Romish Church had
been shaken to its foundations not because its doctrine was false, but
because it was a _despotism_!

From the abdication of Charles V. to 1600 was a period of political
tranquillity in Germany.  The reign of two conciliatory sovereigns,
Ferdinand I., and his son Maximilian II., tended to produce a
surface-calm, which, although ruffled, was not broken by the stern and
despotic reign of Rudolf II., who succeeded in 1576.

It was a half century of unfruitful and sullen waiting--waiting for a
future which no one could divine.  Protestantism was not blossoming;
but the seed was germinating amid elements good and evil, strangely
mingled together.

While the Reformation was the leading fact in Europe at this period,
another event had created a new and pervading atmosphere, in which all
else existed.  The impulse given to civilization by the taking of
Constantinople by the Turks (1452), and the consequent disseminating of
Greek culture throughout Europe, was a transforming event in the
history of civilization.  Literature, art, music, took on new forms and
thrilled with a new life.  The activity of the human mind manifested
itself in everything.  It was an age of great men and great things.
Copernicus, followed by Tycho Brahe, Galileo, and Kepler, brought order
into the heavens.  The Medici in Italy, who were guiding these new and
enriching streams which had set in from the East, helped to produce a
wonderful art period, which swept in successive tides over Europe.
Fainting and sculpture reached their climacteric.  Music, still in its
infancy, developed into the new forms of opera and oratorio.[1]  And
while these things were happening, a mysteriously inspired man--seeming
to hold as in a crucible the wisdom distilled from all ages and all
human experiences--was writing immortal plays in England!

The Teuton race does not take on the graces of life very quickly.  The
serious and sincere German mind must inspect the idea first, and then
become thoroughly imbued with it, before the hand will act!  But when
the Teuton roots do begin to draw upon the soil, they strike deep and
hold firmly, and know just what they are going to do with the rising
sap; concerning themselves much more about that than the foolish
branches and leaves!

So this new light did not at once flood Germany, but its influence was
felt there.  Thought was quickened, knowledge increased, art and
science began to flourish, wealth accumulated, and the people became
less simple and more luxurious in their ways of living.  The King of
Spain was occupied in his hopeless attempt to subdue the Netherlands,
and Hungary and Austria were still struggling with the Turkish invasion.

Such was the condition at the beginning of the seventeenth century.  In
spite of the material advance there was a feeling of impending
misfortune.  But the magnitude of the coming disaster none then could
have imagined or dreamed.

The fatal circumstance was that the Protestants were divided into two
angry and hostile camps, at the very time when the Catholics, under the
teachings of the Jesuits, were uniting with solid front against them.
The Thirty Years' War would never have been undertaken against a united
adversary who held four-fifths of Germany!

During the despotic reign of Rudolf II. the Protestants for their
protection formed a Union with the Elector Palatine Frederick at its
head.  Thereupon the Catholic princes also united in a _Catholic
League_ under Maximilian of Bavaria.  The forces were now gathering for
the great explosion.  Matthias had succeeded his brother Rudolf as

When a great storm is impending, it takes only a trifling disturbance
in equilibrium to precipitate it.

Such a disturbance occurred in Prague (1618) over a church which the
Protestants were erecting.  An angry mob armed itself, burst into the
Imperial Castle at Prague, and flung out of the window two Catholic
Bohemian nobles.

With this act of violence commenced the Thirty Years' War, which lasted
through three reigns, those of Matthias, Ferdinand II., and Ferdinand
III., and caused unparalleled misery in Germany.

Two years from that day the Protestant faith was obliterated in the
realm of Austria, and the progress of a hundred years was wiped out.
In three years more, not only Austria, but Germany, was in a worse
condition than she had known for centuries--the wretched people, a prey
to both parties, were slaughtered, robbed, driven hither and thither,
and a country only recently rejoicing in its material prosperity was a
waste and a ruin.

The Imperial troops were splendidly led by two great generals--Tilly
and Wallenstein.  The Protestant nations--England, Holland, Denmark,
and Sweden--looked on in dismay as they saw a powerful and triumphant
Protestantism being wiped out of existence in the land of its birth.

By 1629 Ferdinand II. considered his power re-established absolutely
over all Germany.  He issued what was called the "Edict of
Restitution," which ordered the restoration of all Protestant territory
to Catholic hands.  Wallenstein, in addition to this, declared that
reigning princes and a national diet should be abolished and all power
centered in the Emperor!  Indeed this Wallenstein was minded to play
the dictator as well as general.  He traveled in regal state, with his
one hundred carriages, one thousand horses, fifteen cooks, and fifteen
young nobles for his pages!

This taste for splendor was, like Wolsey's, his undoing.  People began
to fear the ambitious leader, and Ferdinand dismissed him.  With rage
and hate in his heart he retired to Prague to await developments.

Twelve years of war in horrible form had wrought utter ruin and broken
the spirit of the Protestants.  But help and hope suddenly came in 1630.

Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, with his heart all aflame with zeal
to defend the falling cause of Protestantism in Germany, is the
knightliest figure which adorns the pages of history.

We in this present age have reached a point of development when,
without the quivering of an eyelash, we can hear of the destruction of
suffering peoples, even if it involves the principles and things most
sacred to us.  Whether it be the effacing of Christianity in Crete, or
of liberty in Cuba, the motto of practical men and nations is--"hands

Gustavus Adolphus had not learned that potent phrase.  He was still in
that undeveloped condition when the elemental impulses of the heart
sway men's action.  And without a regret, without an enfeebling doubt,
he could turn his back upon a throne and an adoring people, in defense
of an imperiled Protestantism in another land.

From the moment his foot touched the soil of Germany on that 4th of
July, 1630, life and hope revived.  The Emperor Ferdinand laughed and
called him the "Snow King," who would melt away after one winter.  But
when one city after another was stormed and taken, when he left behind
him a path of religious liberty and rejoicing--when Tilly was no longer
able to cope with this Snow King and Wallenstein had to be recalled,
and when it looked as if the work of twelve years might be undone, then
Ferdinand no longer laughed!

Wallenstein would only return upon conditions which actually made him
the lord and Ferdinand the subject.  Having thus become absolute master
of the Imperial cause, he confidently set about the task of defeating

The Queen of Sweden had joined her husband in Germany.  On the 27th of
October, 1632, he took leave of her.  As he passed through the country,
the people fell on their knees, kissing his garments, calling him
Deliverer.  He exclaimed, "I pray that the wrath of the Almighty may
not be visited upon me, on account of this idolatry toward a weak and
sinful mortal."

Before the great conflict began he made an address to his Swedes, and
then the whole army united in singing Luther's grand hymn, "A tower of
strength is our Lord!"

For hours the battle raged furiously, and while the issue was trembling
in the balance, the sight of the riderless horse of the Swedish King,
covered with blood and wildly galloping to and fro, told the awful
story.  The terrified animal had carried him with a shattered arm right
into the enemy's ranks, where he was instantly shot.

While Wallenstein was retreating to Leipzig, the body of this most
royal of kings was lying under a heap of dead, so mutilated by the
hoofs of horses as to be almost unrecognizable.

The Protestant cause had lost its soul and inspiration.  But, in
falling, the heroic king had so broken the enemy that there was a long
pause in hostilities.  And the wily general retired again to Prague,
there to evolve new plans for his own aggrandizement.

At this crisis a new champion arose.  It was not to be expected that
Richelieu, who had been putting down Protestantism with an iron hand in
France, would feel sympathy for the Protestant cause in Germany!  But
that wary primate and minister was not going to stand on a little
matter of religion, when he saw an advantage to be gained for France!

He had long ago determined how this conflict should end.  He did not
intend to permit Imperial Germany under Ferdinand to rise to ascendancy
in Europe.

With the weight of France thrown into the scale when the Imperial cause
was already so shattered by Gustavus, it was easy to see how it must

Wallenstein secretly opened negotiations from Prague with the French
ambassador, and steadily disregarded the Emperor's orders to return to
his command.  The project was that he should go over to the Protestant
side in return for the crown of Bohemia.

A general whom the traitor trusted, in turn betrayed him to the
Emperor.  Six soldiers, under the pretense of bearing dispatches,
entered his room.

"Are _you_ the traitor who is going to deliver your Emperor's troops to
the enemy?" shouted one of the men.

Wallenstein realized that his hour had come.  He said not a word, but
stretched out his arms and silently received his death-blow.

With an invading French army in Germany, under the famous Marshals
Turenne and Condé, looking about for choice bits of territory for
France, a religious war had become a political one.  It lasted until
1648, when the "Peace of Westphalia" concluded the most desolating
struggle in the history of wars.

And what had been gained?  The very principle for which it was
undertaken was surrendered.  Entire religious freedom was granted to
Protestants (excepting in Austria); four great states were lost to the
empire; a population of seventeen millions was reduced to four
millions, with Imperial authority abridged and broken.

France took Alsace, and Sweden Pomerania.  Holland and Switzerland were
recognized as independent States.  The supreme power was invested in
the Reichstag, and the several German princes were made almost
independent.  The empire, as a unity, had been reduced to a shadow.

The devastation which had been wrought by those thirty terrible years
cannot be described.  Its details are too awful to be dwelt upon.
Famine had converted men into wild beasts, who formed themselves into
bands, and preyed on those they caught.

Such a band was attacked near Worms and was found cooking in a great
caldron human legs and arms!

The spirit of the people was broken.  Germany had been set back two
hundred years.  And for what?  Not to accomplish any high purpose, not
even from mistaken Christian zeal, but simply to carry out the despotic
resolve of the Catholic Church to rule the minds and consciences of all
men through its Popes and priesthood.  It was the old battle commenced
six centuries before.  Had Henry not gone to Canossa in 1073, there had
been no Thirty Years' War in 1618!

[1] For a comprehensive understanding of this period see Chart of
Civilization in Six Centuries, "Who, When, and What."


For seven hundred years, from the treaty of Verdun (843), to Charles V.
(1520), Germany had held the leading position in Europe as the head of
the "Holy Roman Empire."  The reality had been gradually departing from
that alluring title; and now, with the Peace of Westphalia, it was gone.

With a large body of its people accorded full rights, while they were
engaged in open war upon the Roman Church, the last link binding
Germany to Rome was broken.  The Holy Roman Empire was now the German

And, in very fact, it was no empire at all, but a loose confederacy of
miniature kingdoms, administered without any regard to each other, and
in great measure independent of Imperial authority.

Great changes had taken place throughout Europe.  Louis XIV. was King
of France.  In England Charles I. had lost his throne and his head, and
Cromwell was laying the foundations of a power more enduring than that
of Tudor or Stuart.  Spain was rapidly declining, and the new Republic
of Holland ascending in the scale.  Sweden was supreme in the North,
and Russia just beginning to be recognized as a power in Europe.
Venice and the Italian republics were crumbling to pieces; while across
the sea, on the coast of America, a few English, Dutch, and Swedish
colonies were struggling into existence.

Richelieu was dead, but the fortunes of France were in the keeping of
one quite as ambitious for her as was the Great Minister.  There was a
new aspirant for headship in Europe.  When Ferdinand III. died, Louis
XIV. tried hard to be elected his successor.  He spent money freely
among the Electors, and was only defeated by the sturdy opposition of
Brandenburg and Saxony.

Of the people of Germany there is really nothing to tell in the years
which followed the Peace of Westphalia.  Spiritless and disheartened in
their ruined cities, they seemed to have lost all national spirit and
even religious enthusiasm.  They languidly saw the Catholic Hapsburgs
becoming absolute in the land, while the Court at Vienna and the
smaller German Courts were absorbed in establishing servile imitations
of the Court at Versailles.  Churches and schoolhouses were in ruins,
but palaces were being built in which the fashions of the French Court
were closely imitated, and princes were trying to unlearn their native
language and to install that of a cormorant French King, who was
planning to devour their demoralized empire!

The one exception among the German rulers of this time was Frederick
William of Brandenburg, the "Great Elector."  This incorruptible German
lost no time in learning French.  As soon as peace was declared he set
about restoring his wasted territory.  He organized a standing army and
built a fleet, and he used them, too, to recover Pomerania from Sweden
and to circumvent the French King, and so enlarged his boundaries and
strengthened his authority that Brandenburg, now next in size to
Austria, was treated with the respect of an independent power, and the
name of Hohenzollern began to shine bright even beside that of Hapsburg.

From the year 1667 until 1704 Germany was the center of the Grand
Monarch's ambitious designs.  In 1687, while Prince Eugene was leading
a German army against the Turks, and while German princes, excepting
the Great Elector, were engaged in copying French fashions, two
powerful French armies suddenly appeared upon the Rhine, and the great
war which was to involve all Europe had commenced.

It was not love for Germany which brought Holland, England, Spain, and
Sweden into this war with France, but fear of the advancing power of a
King who aspired to be supreme in Europe.

In the year 1700, an event occurred which intensified the situation.
Charles II., the last of the half Castilian and half Hapsburg kings of
Spain descended from Charles V., died without children, and that
country was looking for the next nearest heir in foreign lands from
which to choose a new king.  Of the two it found, one was son of the
Emperor of Germany and the other grandson of Louis XIV.  It was a
choice of evils for Europe; as in one case the German Empire with Spain
annexed would be a preponderating power, as in the time of Charles V.;
and in the other, the grasping Louis would be far on the road to the
very end which Europe had combined to defeat!

Inflammable oil, poured on fire, does not make a fiercer blaze than did
this question of the _Spanish Succession_ at that time.  The
embarrassing thing for Louis was that, when he had married the Infanta,
he had solemnly renounced the throne of Spain for her heirs!  But the
Pope, with whom the ultimate decision lay, had more need of the rising
house of Bourbon than of the waning Hapsburg, so, after "prayerful
deliberation," he concluded that the King might be absolved from that
little promise, and that Philip V. was rightful King of Spain.

There was rage in Vienna.  The Emperor Leopold I. and his disappointed
son the Archduke Karl declared they would wrest the throne from Philip
and have vengeance upon Louis, who with swelling pride was declaring
that "the Pyrenees had ceased to exist."

When Leopold called upon the German states to arm, the Great Elector of
Brandenburg was dead.  But his son Frederick took advantage of the
opportunity.  He would assist the Emperor on one condition, that he be
permitted to assume the title of King!  An embarrassment arose in the
fact that traditional custom permitted only one King among the Electors
(King of Bohemia), and therefore the Elector of Brandenburg could not
be also King of Brandenburg.

The difficulty was overcome by adopting for the new kingdom the name of
his detached duchy of Prussia, that province which had been snatched
from Russia by the Teutonic knights long before, and had then been
appropriated by that masterful Hohenzollern who was then head of the
Order, as his own kingdom.  It was this high-handed proceeding which
thereafter inseparably linked the name of Hohenzollern with that of

So, in 1701, the Elector and his wife traveled in midwinter to
Königsberg, almost in the confines of Russia, where he was crowned
Frederick I. of Prussia, and then returned to Berlin in Brandenburg,
which thereafter remained his capital.  And so it was that Prussia--the
name of a small Slavonic people on the frontier--became that of the
entire kingdom of which Berlin was the capital.

England and Holland were in alliance with Leopold--not for the sake of
setting up the Hapsburg, but rather to put down the great Bourbon who
began to wear the prestige of invincibility.  England entered the
alliance languidly at first, but when the French king threw down the
glove by recognizing the exiled Stuart (son of James II.) as the heir
to her throne, she needed no urging and sent the best of her army into
Germany under the command of the man who was going to destroy that
prestige of invincibility, and to hold in check the arrogant king.

Marlborough and Prince Eugene formed a combination too strong for
Louis.  Marlborough's great victory at Blenheim in 1704 virtually
decided the contest, although it continued for many years longer.  He
was created Duke of Marlborough and received the estate of Blenheim as
his reward.

But the long war outlived the enthusiasm it had created.  England grew
tired of fighting for the Hapsburgs; there were court intrigues for
Marlborough's downfall, and finally he was recalled, and cast aside
like a rusty sword.  Louis, too, had grown old and weary, and so in
1713 the Peace of Utrecht terminated the long struggle.  Philip V. was
left upon the throne of Spain, with the condition that the crowns of
Spain and France should never be united.

The disappointed Archduke Karl had now succeeded to the Imperial throne
as Karl VI.  If the life of a nation be in its people, there was really
no Germany at this time.  There was nothing but a wearisome succession
of wars and diplomatic intrigues, and new divisions and apportionments
of territory.  Prussia was expanding and Poland declining, while
Hungary and Naples, and Milan and Mantua, were fast in the grasp of
Austria.  Indeed, to tell of the territorial changes occurring at this
period is like painting a picture of dissolving elements, which form
new combinations even as you look at them.

At the North, too, there were these same changing combinations, where
had arisen two new ambitious kings.  Charles XII. of Sweden and Peter
the Great of Russia were at war; and Denmark and Poland were lending a
hand to defeat the Swedish King.  Peter the Great was extending his
Baltic provinces and preparing to build his new capital of St.
Petersburg (1709); but Charles XII. was defeated by Prussia and
Hanover, in his attempt to make of Sweden one of the great powers of
Europe.  His death in 1718 ended that dream.

Not since the infamous Irene's deposition at Byzantium had there been a
woman on the throne of the Cæsars.  When Karl VI. issued the decree
called the "Pragmatic Sanction," providing that the crown should
descend to female heirs in the absence of male, he forged one of the
most important links in the chain of events.  This secured the
succession to his little daughter Maria Theresa, who was born in 1717.
The link had need to be a strong one, for there were to be twenty years
of effort to break it.  But it held.

At about this same time there was another important link forging in
Prussia, where Frederick William I. had succeeded his father Frederick
I. as king.  By these two events the long spell was to be broken.

Volumes have been written about this fierce, miserly King Frederick
William and his coarse brutalities.  But his reign was the rough,
strong bridge which led to a Frederick the Great, and the reign of the
Great Frederick was that other bridge which led to a powerful and
dominating kingdom of Prussia,--from which was to spring a new German

If Frederick William was a tyrant of the most savage sort, on the other
hand he organized industry, finance, and an army.  If he was a miser in
his family, he brought wealth and prosperity to his people.  If he beat
and cudgeled his own son for playing the flute, he left that son a
kingdom and an army which were the foundation of his greatness.

His hatred for all that was French, for art, for the formalities and
even the decencies of life, was an enraged protest against the
prevailing affectations and artificiality of his time.

We can imagine how the polished and refined Court at Vienna must have
regarded this Prussian King.  Austria, entirely Catholic, in a state of
moral and intellectual decline, sat looking backward and sighing for
the return of the spirit of the Middle Ages.  Prussia, altogether
Protestant, had set her face toward a future which was to be greater
than she dreamed.

In 1736 Maria Theresa was married to Francis of Lorraine.  In 1740 she
succeeded her father Karl VI., on the Imperial throne; and that very
same year Frederick William of Prussia died, and was succeeded by his
son, who was to be known as Frederick the Great.

Through the barren period succeeding the Thirty Years' War some vital
processes were going on; indeed that most vital of all processes,
thought, was active.  Broken into fragments as by an earthquake, the
people had been left without one healing touch from the hands of their
infatuated rulers.  It was a sorry spectacle to see those German
princes gayly arraying themselves in French finery while their country
was a ruin.  Did they not know that a wound might better not heal at
all, than to begin by forming new tissue at the top!

Whatever capacity Germany had for being, was in those neglected
fragments.  If she ever developed into greatness it must be along the
line of their elemental tendencies, and by being German, not French.

So a nation, helpless, broken, disorganized, out of harmony with itself
and with others, could not act, but it could think.  And in this time
of chaos and confusion there commenced mighty stirrings in the thought
of Germany.  Slumbering in that chaos were the germs of wonderful music
and a wondrous literature.

The gloomy and despondent Spinoza had found peace in discovering that
the reality of things was not in political overturnings, nor in the
disappointing facts and phenomena which we call life, but in the
_Eternal Order_, of which we are all a part.

He might have discovered the same sustaining truth in religion; but
Spinoza's mind led him to seek it instead in a philosophical system
which should harmonize the discordant facts of existence.  This was the
foundation of German speculative philosophy, which took possession of
the German mind and which by progressive steps was to lead to a union
with a science, _founded_ upon the despised facts of life--and finally,
whether they wished it or not--a harmonizing of both with RELIGION.

With deeply philosophical mind the great German, Leibniz, was
investigating the truths of the natural world; and Handel also belongs
to this time of soul-awakening during a period of national neglect and
depression, while at this very time there was also borne in a
stimulating wave from England, where Newton had revealed the
fundamental law and the "ETERNAL _order_" of the _physical_ universe.

It would seem like a dim twilight to us if we should go back to it now;
but then these new lights were very dazzling, almost blinding people
with their splendor.


It was into such a world as this that Frederick the Great was ushered
in 1712.  Few children, be they princes or peasants, have ever had a
more unhappy childhood.  If he had not been born to be a King,
Frederick's tastes would have led him to be a musician or a poet.  A
son whose chief pleasures consisted in playing the flute, and reading
French books, became an object almost of aversion to the austere
Frederick William.  In the midst of severities past belief Frederick
obtained most of his education in secret, at the hands of French
_émigrés_, who formed his taste after French models, the influence of
which could be traced throughout his life.  His passion for music was
pursued also in the same secret way.

The tyranny and the beatings to which he was subjected became at last
so intolerable that, when he was eighteen years old, Frederick
determined to run away.  His adored sister Wilhelmine was his
confidante.  His bosom friend, Lieutenant Von Katte, was his
accomplice.  A letter to Von Katte, written at this time, fell into
other hands and was sent to the King.

The barbarities which followed make one think this Hohenzollern should
have been in a madhouse instead of on a throne.  It was a small matter
that he beat his son until his face was covered with blood, for he had
done that before; but he sent him as a prisoner of state to Prussia.
He then annulled the sentence of imprisonment passed by the
court-martial upon Von Katte, and ordered his immediate execution.  To
inflict more suffering he ordered that the hanging take place before
the window of the cell where his son was confined!

When this was carried into effect the young prince fainted, and lay so
long insensible that it was thought he was dead.

The King then insisted that he be tried by court-martial; and when the
court decided that it had no authority to condemn the Crown Prince, he
overruled the decision and ordered his execution.

The horror and indignation caused by this extended as far as Vienna.
The Emperor Charles VI. informed the King of Prussia that the Crown
Prince could only be condemned capitally at an Imperial Diet.  The King
answered, "Very well; then, I will hold my own court on him at
Königsberg.  Prussia is my own and outside the confines of the empire,
where I can do as I please."

But the fury of this madman was abating.  He did not resent it when a
daring attendant reminded him that "God also ruled--even in Prussia."
Finally he was satisfied with humiliating his son by making him work
for one year in the lowest position in the departments of the

At the wedding festivities of his sister Wilhelmine, Frederick secreted
himself among the servants in humble attire.  He was discovered, and
the King, who must have been in a genial mood that night, pulled him
forth from his hiding, and leading him to the trembling queen said,
"Here, madam, our Fritz is back again!"  And the reconciliation made
three aching hearts glad.

For the ten succeeding years Frederick was permitted to reside in his
own castle near Potsdam, and the relations with his father became
kinder and almost cordial.  The son in his castle pursued his
philosophical studies, corresponded with Voltaire, and played the flute
to his heart's content.

But he did other things too, as the future demonstrated.  The study of
profound subjects, conversation, and intimate friendships with learned
men, trained his active mind to wonderful acuteness, and when he
applied this to the study of history, when he read of the dignity of
kings, and of what stuff greatness was made in the past--he formed his
own ideals for the future.  When Frederick William died in 1740 he was
prepared to take the reins of government with a comprehensiveness of
grasp of which his austere father was incapable, and with clearly
defined plans to make Prussia great.

Six months later Maria Theresa succeeded to her father's throne.  She
had no fear of this young flute-playing King of Prussia, and was fully
occupied in defending her own Imperial rights, which were assailed by
the Elector of Bavaria, who claimed to be Emperor Karl VII., by virtue
of a descent superior to hers.

But the war of the _Austrian Succession_, in which she was soon
involved, was quickly overshadowed by a greater conflict, which was
immediately commenced by the bold and ambitious young Prussian King.

He claimed, by virtue of some obscure transaction in the past, that
Silesia belonged to him.  But he gallantly offered, if it was returned
to him, to support Maria Theresa's cause in the fight with her kinsman
of Bavaria over the succession.

The offer was rejected, and almost before the ink in the correspondence
was dry, a Prussian army, with Frederick at its head, was in the heart
of the disputed province.

Two characteristics marked Frederick's movements--the perfect secrecy
with which they were planned, and the swiftness with which they were
carried out.  He formed his own plans, and even his Prime Minister did
not know of their existence until he was ordered to execute them.  The
cunning methods then prevailing in Courts, by which foreign ambassadors
defeated designs while they were maturing, were powerless against this
young King, as none but himself knew what was going to happen.  He gave
his personal and unremitting care to every detail of government, and
astonished his people by the prodigies of labor he performed, and the
sacrifices of his time, rest, and comfort.

Of course this ancient wrong done his family in the matter of Silesia
was only a pretext.  Frederick had made up his mind at Potsdam that
Prussia must be solidified by bringing together her detached provinces,
and he had long ago drawn a new map in his mind, which should include

Nature had endowed him with a bold and aspiring genius.  He had a
consciousness of strength, combined with a belief that he was a chosen
instrument appointed by fate to perform a definite work: the raising of
Prussia to the first rank in the German empire.

When we see Frederick's ideal of a despotic personal government, with a
divinely appointed ruler leading his country to greatness, independent
of ministers and advisers,--it is easy to recognize the model which is
being studied by a certain young ruler in Europe to-day!

There was another strong personality on the throne at Vienna.  To have
her crown threatened by a powerful combination, and at the same time a
war of conquest waged against her in her own Austria, was a heavy
burden to be borne by a young girl of twenty-four years.  But Maria
Theresa maintained herself with astonishing bravery and firmness.  She
listened to the counsels of her ministers, and then decided for
herself; even her husband Francis being unable to sway her judgment.

France, Spain, and Saxony sustained the claims of the Bavarian Archduke
to her throne; and when a French army was on the Danube and Vienna
threatened, she fled to Hungary and made a personal appeal to the
Hungarian Diet to stand by her.  She promised the restoration of rights
for which they had been contending, and by her personal charm and
radiance captured the wavering nobles, who placed on her head the crown
of St. Stephen.  They cheered wildly as she galloped up "the king's
hill," and waved her sword toward the four quarters of the earth in
true Imperial fashion.

Then she appeared before the Diet in their national costume with her
infant son Joseph in her arms, and in an eloquent speech depicted the
dangers which beset her, and the enthusiastic nobles drew their sabers,
shouting, "We will die for our _King_, Maria Theresa!"

This saved Vienna.  The support of Hungary arrested the advance toward
the capital, and the invading army moved instead on to Prague, where
her rival was crowned King of Bohemia, and later at Frankfort was
proclaimed Emperor Karl VII.

While these distracting combinations were engrossing the young
sovereign, Frederick had invaded Silesia, and when the second Silesian
war ended in 1742, Prussia held that province, and was enriched by 150
large and small cities, and about 5000 villages.

England, Holland, and Hanover now came to the support of Maria Theresa
against Karl VII. and his French ally.

The wary Frederick saw that, with such a coalition, Austria's success
was certain, and he also saw that, if victorious, her next step would
be to try to recover Silesia.  So he offered to join France in support
of Karl VII., and threw himself into the war of the Austrian succession.

This lasted three years longer and was concluded by the Peace of
Dresden (1745), which again confirmed Prussia in the possession of
Silesia, left Maria Theresa's husband wearing the disputed Imperial
title as Francis I., and to Frederick left the more unique and renowned
title of "the Great," which was bestowed by acclamation on his return
to Berlin.

Frederick's first care was to heal the wounds inflicted by the two
Silesian wars.

It is interesting to speculate upon what this man might have been, had
his childhood been spent in an atmosphere of kindness and love, and had
his heart and intelligence been symmetrically nurtured and trained.

But he was trained as the tree is trained which is blasted in its youth
by lightnings, then twisted and distorted by hands which defeat its
natural tendency upward and sunward!

An eager and impressionable boy with warm affections, acute
intelligence, and a strong sense of justice had been subjected to
inhuman barbarities in his own home.  In his heart-hunger he turned to
pursuits for which he had a passionate love, and was nourished in
secret upon a poisonous diet.  A nature which in the fire of his youth
had been full of generous enthusiasms was embittered by suffering, and
then became cold and cynical under the teachings of Voltaire.

So fascinated had he become with this man that he regarded him as the
most exalted of beings, and his friendship a treasure above all others.
Faith, hope, love, and filial respect were, through this influence,
destroyed in the germ before they had time to unfold; and in the place
of everything sacred was a cynical cold-blooded search after what these
philosophers of the eighteenth century were pleased to call--_truth_.
And the way to discover this truth was to analyze, dissect, and then to

So there had been created a strangely composite man, compounded of
elements native to himself, to that undeveloped barbarian Frederick
William, and to Voltaire!  Joined to a strong practical common sense in
the management of affairs was a passion for insincere, unsound, and
shallow French ideals.  And combined with the most despotic and
arbitrary of wills, was an inflexible regard for the right of the
humblest.  While he despised the beliefs of Protestant and Catholic
alike, he declared "I mean that every man in my kingdom shall have the
right to be saved in his own way."  And he secured that right for his
people, too!

His rule was a despotism, but it was a despotism of intelligence and
justice.  He called himself the first official servant of the state,
and no clerk in his kingdom gave such faithful service as he.  He arose
at four o'clock in the morning.  He made himself personally acquainted
with every village and landed estate in his kingdom, which he treated
as if it were a great private enterprise and interest, for which he was

He was a reformer without heart; a King intent upon the well-being of
his people, without tenderness; a leader prepared, if need be, not to
lead, but to drag Prussia with a rough hand up the rugged path of
virtue and prosperity; and determined to make his nation great, whether
it wanted to be or not!

There were many pleasanter companions and gentler fathers in his day.
There were sovereigns who did not terrify wrong-doers and children on
the street with uplifted canes.  But this Frederick, with character
scarred and distorted, was the one man in Europe who was converting a
kingdom into a POWER, and the one man of his age whom history would
call GREAT!

But such a being as this, one who has turned to adamant in heroic mold,
cannot sympathetically comprehend the finer currents about him.  There
was going on, quite unnoticed by King Frederick, an awakening in the
German mind, and while he was building a structure of material
greatness, there had commenced, unobserved by him, another structure,
which was to be the chief glory of Germany.

The passion for speculative thought awakened by Spinoza was stirring
the German soul to its depths.  Kant had found that Spinoza's _Eternal
Order_ must be a _Moral Order_.  That the moral instincts which guided
mankind, and were the all in all, were the God in us, the in-dwelling
of the Divine.  Thus was embodied the essence of Christianity in a new
and speculative philosophy.

Klopstock and Lessing were creating a national literature, which
revealed for the first time the strength, resources, and unsuspected
beauty of their own language, and which was for the first time being
used to express a genius untouched by foreign influence.

But all unconscious of this new, rushing stream of life, Frederick was
entertaining Voltaire, spending his evenings in listening to the latest
satirical verses of that vain and gifted Frenchman, and laughing at the
latest witty epigram from Paris.

It had been one of Frederick's dreams, in his youth, to have his great
friend some day reside in his Court.  In 1750 this was realized, and
the King and the poet settled down to what was to be an everlasting
banquet of sympathetic tastes and opinions, seasoned with mutual
admiration and friendship!

Frederick felt that he was something of a poet himself, and that he was
only prevented by cares of state from letting the world find it out.
The wily Frenchman had been the literary confidant of his royal friend,
and many pages of verses had been submitted to him during their long
correspondence, and had received flattering commendation from the great
critic.  So one of the pleasantest features in this closer
companionship was expected to be this drop of honeyed praise to sweeten
the evening after the day's work was done.

But Frederick's verses bored Voltaire very much, and the royal host
began to discover that his great guest was selfish, and cold, and
jealous, and even malignant.  The nimbus of fascination began to fade.
He could be cutting and satirical as well as Voltaire.  The great poet
was no less hungry for praise than he, and it was an easy matter to
yawn and be bored by his verses, too.  And so they became gradually
estranged, and finally enemies.  They parted in anger, and Voltaire
returned to France, to write bitter satires about the King, whose
character and ideals he had been one of the chief agents in forming.

There was then in Germany a man whose glory was to outshine Voltaire's
or that of any contemporary in Europe, even as the sun does the stars.
But Frederick's ear could not detect music in his own language, nor was
his stunted soul attuned to the native and sublime harmonies of
Goethe's genius.


There had been a time when two nations in Europe could fight each other
to the death without disturbing their neighbors, but since there had
developed in the sixteenth century that larger unity of European
states, there was no such isolated security.

So when, in 1755, England and France came into collision over the
boundaries of their American colonies, the shock was felt all over
Europe.  Just as the earthquake which swallowed up Lisbon at that very
time had made the shores of Lake Ontario tremble, so the peace of
Germany, which had lasted for eleven years, was broken by an event in
far-off Canada.

The two contending parties, England and France, began after the fashion
of the time to look about for allies.  Maria Theresa, who had
invitations from both countries to join them, was considering which
could best serve her own private interests.  England, since 1714, had
been ruled by Hanoverian kings, which practically annexed her to
Hanover.  It was by no means sure that she could get assistance from
that nation in recovering Silesia--which was to be the price of her
alliance.  She decided that her best policy was to secure the aid of
Louis XV., who would be glad to help her in her plans against
Frederick, in return for the assistance of Austria in this war with

As astute and profound as any statesman in Europe, this wonderful
Empress adopted means and methods entirely feminine to carry out her
immense design.

She knew that Elizabeth, Empress of Russia, was mortally offended with
the King of Prussia, on account of some disparaging remarks he had made
about her, so she deftly used that to her own advantage.
Then--perfectly understanding how to reach the enslaved Louis XV.--she
wrote a flattering letter to Mme. de Pompadour, then in the full tide
of her ascendency over the king.

With the greatest secrecy these negotiations were carried on, and at
last the compact between the three great powers was concluded and
everything ready to commence a war upon Prussia in the spring of 1757;
even to the agreement as to the way in which they should cut up and
divide among themselves the kingdom of Prussia!

Frederick, through secret agents, was perfectly well informed of their
plans.  He saw that his ruin was determined upon, and could only be
prevented by unhesitating courage.  He determined to anticipate them.
Before the allied armies were ready, he made one of his catlike leaps
into the neutral territory of Saxony, and was in Dresden, half way to
Prague, with seventy thousand men.

This so disconcerted the plans of the allies that there was a pause,
and conferences were held, in which it was concluded to ask Sweden to
join the coalition.  Finally, that almost forgotten body, the Diet of
the German Empire, formally declared war against Prussia, and the Third
Silesian War, or the Seven Years' War, had commenced.

As the avowed object of this great combination was not the recovery of
Silesia but the dismemberment of the kingdom, to deprive Frederick of
his royal title, and to reduce him to a simple Margrave of Brandenburg,
it is easy to see the incentive he had to great deeds.

England and a few small German States were his allies; but, as George
II. heartily disliked him, he received small assistance from him, and
stood practically alone with half of Europe allied against him.

There were great victories and great defeats during the seven years
which followed.  There were times when the cause of Prussia seemed
lost, and other times when that of the Allies appeared hopeless.  But
the tide of victory more often set toward Frederick's standard than
that of his adversaries.  He defeated the Austrians at Prague; the
Imperial and French army at Rossbach; a Russian army at Zorndorf; and
these and a hundred other names stand in the annals of Prussia for
monumental courage, daring, and sacrifice.

In the confused narrative of advancing and retreating armies, of
battles and of slaughter, but one distinct impression remains.  That is
amazement--amazement that so many thousands were willing at the bidding
of one ambitious man to die, to lay down their bodies in that heap of
dead, for Prussia's greatness to rise upon!  That not one was ready to
reproach him for having brought these calamities upon them for the sake
of Silesia; but instead, with twenty thousand still lying unburied upon
one field, that they respond with infatuated enthusiasm to his appeal
for more!

But Prussia owes her rise to just such infatuation as this.
_Acquisition_ and _conquest_ are written on her foundation stones, the
chief of which were laid by her Great Frederick.

It is pleasant to tell of peace once more.  The Allies, wearied of the
long war, gradually withdrew from Austria.  Being unable to carry it on
alone, Maria Theresa was compelled to abandon her dream of ruining
Frederick.  With bitterness of heart and humiliation she consented to
give up Silesia forever as the price of a peace she did not desire.  In
1763, the articles were signed (the Peace of Hubertsburg) and the Seven
Years' War was over.

Frederick was now called "the Great" throughout Europe; and Prussia
took her place among the "Five Great Powers."

The next thing to be done was to repair the desolation left by seven
years of war.  Nearly fifteen thousand houses were in ashes.  So many
men had been consumed in the army that there were not enough left to
till the fields, nor horses to draw the harvest.

The practical King, anticipating this, had been enforcing the
cultivation of the much despised potato; and this useful tuber saved
Prussia and Silesia from famine, and some of their neighbors as well.
For as many as twenty thousand famishing people came from the trampled
and burnt corn-fields of Bohemia to feed upon the Prussian potato and

Again the people set about the oft-repeated task of repairing the
devastation of war.  Indeed for 150 years they had always been either
enduring the horrors of a great conflict, or healing its wounds and
building up the waste places it had made.  Can we wonder that they were
strong and serious?  The weaklings were winnowed out by these great
storms, and the chastened souls of those who survived knew little of
pleasure.  Religion, which had once been their solace and refuge, had
lost much of its power on account of the bitterness of sectarian strife.

A few men groping for a solution of the problems of sin and suffering,
and for the meaning of this troubled existence, thought they had found
it in the new philosophy.  France, under the teachings of Voltaire and
Rousseau, had cast off the restraints of religious faith without
providing any substitute, but Germany, more provident, was building a
spacious house for the soul's refuge when the old was demolished;
untrammeled freedom of thought was inscribed upon its doors, and
PHILOSOPHY was enshrined within!

All this tumultuous inner life was growth: the growth and unfolding of
a great and earnest soul; and the awakening of new capacities for being
and doing.  There was a rapturous surprise in discovering these
capacities, and speculative thought and literature became an absorbing


At the close of the Seven Years' War, Maria Theresa had spent the
twenty-three years of her reign in a fruitless struggle with Frederick.
Instead of dismembering his kingdom and reducing him to a plain
Margrave of Brandenburg, she had lost Silesia and was compelled to
listen to the praises of her enemy resounding through Europe and to
hear him called "the Great."

It was a bitter pill for her nine years later, when she had to confer
with the Prussian King as an equal, over the partition of Poland, and
to see him further enriched by a goodly slice of that unhappy country.

But before that event, and just two years after the conclusion of the
war, Francis I. died (1755).  He had worn the title, but she had
wielded the power and guided the events ever since that day when, with
her infant son in her arms, she had captured the Hungarian Diet at

And now that son was Joseph II.  But the scepter was still in reality
to remain with her while she lived, and in fact her name was to be the
last ray of splendor which should illumine the throne of Austria.  But
these were sunset glories after a long and troubled day, while in
Prussia was the brightness of the dawn.

That friendship with Louis XV. so eagerly sought by Maria Theresa led
to a very momentous alliance of a different sort.  The Empress and the
French King together arranged a marriage between her fair young
daughter Marie Antoinette and Louis, the young Dauphin of France.

How should the Empress of Austria, born, nurtured, and fed in the very
center of despotism--not hearing or heeding the current ideas about
human rights and freedom--entirely misunderstanding the past, the
present, and the future--how should she suspect the terrific forces
which were accumulating beneath the throne of France, or that it would
become a scaffold for her child?  Hapsburg and Bourbon, to her mind,
were realities as fixed and enduring as the Alps.

She saw no special significance in the fact that thirteen English
colonies in America were in rebellion and setting up a novel form of
government for themselves.  That was England's affair, not hers, and
would in time, like other rebellions against properly constituted
authority, be put down.

She did not live to see the end of this struggle, nor the events to
which it led in France.  Her death occurred in 1780.  Her son, Joseph
II., strange to say, was imbued with the new ideas of human rights.
Great was the astonishment of Frederick and of Europe, when this young
man set about the task of establishing a new and progressive order of
things in Austria; and it was a strange spectacle to behold a Hapsburg
trying to force upon his people reforms they did not desire, and rights
which they did not know how to use.

His plans were high and noble, but he failed to see that they were too
sweeping and too suddenly developed to be permanent.  His people were
not ripe for emancipation from old shackles, which they had grown to
like and venerate.  In striving to free the church from the Jesuits,
and to emancipate the serfs in Hungary, he had accomplished nothing,
and had created chaos.  Depressed by the failure in his great design of
reformation, Joseph's health gave way.  He died in 1790 and was
succeeded by his brother Leopold II.

It is not to be supposed that Frederick felt much sympathy with the
free young Republic established in America.  And if he sent a sword of
honor to Washington in 1783, it was because he recognized the greatness
of the man; and perhaps, too, because he felt a malicious pleasure in
the humiliation of George III.!

The intellectual awakening which this King had failed to understand had
wrought a mighty change in Germany.  Lessing had been the first to
break away from an enfeebling imitation of French _Sentimentlalism_.
The genius of Goethe and Schiller awakened a new spirit in literature,
that of _Romanticism_, and there commenced that intellectual convulsion
known as _Sturm und Drang_, or storm and stress period.  While Goethe
and Schiller were supreme in the kingdom of letters, Herder and the
Schlegels were great in history and criticism; Humboldt and Ritter in
geographical science; Fichte, Hegel, Schelling, and Kant in philosophy;
Fouqué and Tieck in imagination, and Jean Paul Richter in the
mysterious ether of transcendental thought.

When Karl August called Goethe to his Court in Saxe-Weimar, among that
group of other illustrious authors, and gave to Weimar the name of the
"German Athens," it was a Golden Age for Germany.

It is interesting to recall that it was Luther who gave the first
impulse to this movement, by revealing to the people the riches of
their own tongue.  In his translation of the Bible, and in his hymns,
so grandly simple, he created the modern German language.

The influence of Luther was felt in another art, too.  The enthusiasm
awakened by the singing of his hymns revolutionized the form of
ecclesiastical music.  In this Golden Age in Germany music, too, had
become a great art, with such immortal names as Mozart, Gluck, Haydn,
and Beethoven; and the period of great orchestration also had

Although Frederick's tastes led him so strongly to letters and to
music, these two arts had attained this rich development in Germany
without any assistance from him.  When he died in 1786 the monument he
left was a Kingdom of Prussia; equal in rank with any of the Great
Powers of Europe, enlarged in territory, rich in population, with a
great army and an overflowing treasury.

As Frederick the Great had no son, this splendid inheritance passed to
his nephew Frederick William II.

With the new ascendency of Prussia in the German Empire, a process
which had long been going on was accelerated.  That empire had become a
fiction, a form from which the substance had long ago departed; almost
its only remaining relic being an Imperial Diet, where thirty solemn
old men supposed they were holding the venerated structure together by
weaving about it, and repairing, the thin, worn threads of tradition.

The German Empire had in its best time existed by grace of God and
force of circumstances, more than by reason of a sound and perfect
organism.  It always struggled with fatal inherent defects.  Its life
currents never flowed freely and had been growing more and more
sluggish for centuries.  And now, they had ceased to flow at all.
There was no vital relation whatever between its various parts.  Of
national feeling there was absolutely none.  Lessing, one of the
greatest Germans of that time, said, "Of the love of country I have no

And what was there to inspire patriotism in this great empty shell of
despotism!  The shattered lifeless old structure was wrong at its very
foundation.  It was built upon feudal injustice; that injustice which
compelled the people to bear the whole burden of taxation, from which
it exempted the nobility and the clergy.  England had long ago
redressed this grievous wrong.  France was just preparing to free
herself from it by a tremendous convulsion.  Germany had been offered
emancipation at the hands of her enlightened and gracious Emperor
Joseph, but so spiritless and benumbed had she become that she could
not understand his message.

He was attempting a vain task in trying to infuse new life into the
empire.  There were no living channels to convey the current.  The only
thing to be done with it was to sweep it away--and the man and the time
for doing this were close at hand.  The surface calm which existed
while Leopold II. was repairing the disorder left by his reforming
brother Joseph, was the calm which precedes the hurricane.

[1] See Chart of Civilization in Six Centuries, "Who, When, and What."


The energies which were to transform the face of Europe had been
gradually centering in France.  They commenced when Voltaire and
Rousseau made it the fashion to scoff at the Church.  Then, as religion
and morality are closely allied, virtue became also a subject of
ridicule.  The spirit animating this was supposed to be a reforming
spirit.  It was an effort to free the people from the fetters of
ecclesiasticism.  Naturally, this led to assaults upon other fetters,
other prevailing abuses.  The vices of the Court were held up to
view--its extravagance and luxury; all of which people were reminded
that _they_ had to pay for.

Just at this time the Colonies in North America threw off the English
yoke because of this very matter of taxation unjustly imposed, and
France enthusiastically helped them to establish a free republic and to
humiliate her rival!

Frenchmen returned from the United States and contrasted the fresh
vigor and purity of its institutions with the decrepit corruptions in
France.  The current began to flow very swiftly now.  A Richelieu or a
Louis XIV. would have been powerless to arrest the mad forces which
quickly developed.  What could the feeble, well-intentioned Louis XVI.
do!  He was like a skiff caught in the rushing rapids of the Niagara
River.  It was only a question of how long he could hold on to passing
twigs and branches before he should go over the precipice.  In 1793
Europe read with shuddering horror of his execution, and nine months
later Maria Theresa's daughter--the beautiful, the adored Marie
Antoinette--sat in a cart with her arms pinioned behind her, as she was
driven to the scaffold.

The men who had guided this storm in its beginnings had themselves been
engulfed in it, and a French republic was proclaimed which had been
erected upon a tragedy unparalleled in Europe.

It was a horrible avenging of centuries of wrong and oppression.  But
its purpose was thoroughly accomplished.  No vestige of the old
tyrannies remained.  If France was again enslaved, the fetters would
have to be forged anew!

The powers of Europe were not only filled with horror and indignation
at the means by which this was accomplished, but they saw with alarm a
pestilential republic, in imitation of that one across the sea, at
their very doors.

They formed a combination, called the First Coalition, for its
overthrow.  If the states of Europe had really acted in concert, the
life of the new republic would have been very brief.  But Austria was
jealous of Prussia, and Prussia was jealous of the close friendship
forming between Austria and England, withdrew from the alliance, and
made peace with the French republic.

Catherine, Empress of Russia, for reasons of her own also declined to
join the coalition.  While all Europe was thus engaged she thought it a
good time to settle some scores with the Turks and to look after
Poland, where a revolution was in progress.  So, while the German
Empire was engaged in suppressing republicanism in France, Frederick
William II. of Prussia offered his services to Catherine to overthrow
the independence of Poland.

Kosciusko vainly defended that unhappy country.  With the fall of
Warsaw, 1794, it ceased to exist as one in the family of nations.

So Austria had been left practically alone to put down the new
republic, which was developing wonderful strength while these languid
and inefficient efforts were being made against it; for even Austria
was diverted by what was going on in Poland, and fearful that she was
not going to get her share of the spoils.

Marie Antoinette's brother Leopold had died the year before his
sister's execution and his son Francis II. was Emperor of Germany.  The
government of this new republic which had caused such a stir in Europe
was a very simple affair.  Five men who were called Directors were at
its head, and an obscure young man of twenty-six, named Napoleon
Bonaparte, had been given command of the army, with Italy as its field
of operations.

No doubt Francis thought it would be an easy matter to deal with France
after the more important matter of the partition of Poland was disposed
of.  Little did he suspect that the time was approaching when he would,
at the bidding of that young man, take off his Imperial crown, and that
Napoleon Bonaparte would rise to ascendency in Europe upon the ruins of
the German Empire.

In 1796 the young Corsican led a ragged, unpaid army into Italy.
Without supplies, and almost without ammunition, he had audaciously
planned to make the invaded country pay the expenses of the war waged
against it.

He pointed to the Italian cities, and said to his soldiers, "There is
your reward.  It is rich and ample; but you must conquer it."  He knew
the French character and how in words brief, concise, forcible to
address them like another Cæsar addressing his legions; to create
incentives to glory, and to inspire enthusiasm as never man did before.

He also knew the infirmities of his adversaries, and how to play upon
them as Cæsar did upon the rivalries and jealousies of the Gauls, and
so to make the characteristics of Frenchmen, of German, and of Italian
all serve him.  He knew how to confound the enemy with new and
unexpected methods, which rendered unavailing all which military
science and experience had before taught.

In a brief time central Italy lay open before him, and princes,
trembling at his vengeance, were suing for peace and offering money and
treasure to procure it.  Even then he was planning to make of Paris
another Rome, and to adorn her with the jewels which had been worn by
the proud Italian cities.  So he demanded rare collections of paintings
as the price of safety.  The Duke of Parma laid at his feet priceless
treasures of art; and even the Pope purchased neutrality by the payment
of twenty-one million francs, one hundred costly pictures, and two
hundred rare manuscripts.

When the treaty of Campo Formio was signed in 1797, Napoleon had won
fourteen battles, and had subjugated Italy.  The German Empire had lost
all of its Italian possessions, which were now grouped together into a
Cisalpine Republic, under the protectorship of France.  Another
Helvetic Republic was set up in Switzerland under the same
protectorate.  And then Napoleon scornfully tossed Venice as an apple
of discord into the lap of the Emperor, in exchange for the
Netherlands.  And another republic under a French protectorate was
created in Holland.

As the left bank of the Rhine had already been ceded to France, that
country, which had been only four years before in a state of political
chaos, was at the head of Europe.

What would she not do at the bidding of the man who could accomplish
such things?  He dramatically conceived the idea of crippling England
by threatening her Asiatic possessions, and led an army into Egypt.
There every bulletin, every address to his army, added to the glamour
of his name.  Even the Pyramids were made to serve his consummate art
and ambition!

Although his fleet was destroyed by Nelson and his army left in
perilous position, he was needed at home, and returned with all the
arrogance of a conqueror.  He was appointed Generalissimo over the army
by an enraptured France, and then swept aside the five Directors and
appointed himself and two others Consuls.

A second coalition was now formed against France, consisting of
England, Russia, and Austria, and there followed another campaign in
which Napoleon made permanent the results of the previous ones in
Italy.  By the treaty of peace in 1801, the three republics created by
him were formally recognized, and the princes of Germany, in
compensation for their losses, had apportioned among them the dominions
of the priestly rulers.

Thus at one blow were abolished one hundred states governed by
archbishops, bishops, and other clerical dignitaries, and one of the
foundation stones of the empire, laid by Charlemagne himself, was

This extraordinary man, dreaming of universal empire, superstitiously
believed that Fate intended him to hold Europe in his hand.  But we can
see now that he was designed by that remorseless Fate for a very
different purpose, and a very brief office.  He was a terrible
instrument, which she intended to use for one specific purpose, and
then to cast him aside.

This work was the destruction of the Romano-Germanic Empire.  That
lifeless mass, whose oppressive weight had crushed the life and hope
out of Central Europe for centuries, needed some tremendous force from
without to break up its time-encrusted rivets.  And that force was now
in the hands of a workman who supposed he was engaged in rearing a
great edifice for himself.  Instead of which he was overturning, and
plowing, and harrowing Germany, and preparing the ground for new forms
of political life; and nothing more effectually pulverized the old
tyrannies than this secularization of the priestly dominions.  When,
added to this, we see the extinction of a multitude of petty states and
the abolition of the special privileges of nearly a thousand "Imperial"
noble families, we realize how he was relieving Germany from the
incubus which had paralyzed her for centuries.


The eighteenth century closed upon a strangely altered Europe.  France
was the ruling power on the Continent.  Prussia had hidden herself in a
timid neutrality, and left Austria to fight with foreign allies for the
life of the empire.  That battle had been a losing one, and now Francis
II. sat upon a trembling throne and bore a title which had no longer
any meaning.

But Napoleon was building his own edifice.  In 1803 he had himself
declared First Consul for life, and in 1804 he assumed the title of
Napoleon, Emperor of the French.  His coronation took place at Paris,
where he compelled the Pope to come and perform that ceremony.

Then, after changing the groups of Italian republics into a Kingdom of
Italy, he crowned himself, after the fashion of the Emperors whose
successor he meant to be, with the Iron Crown of Lombardy.

He had entered upon the most daring scheme ever attempted in Europe: to
convert the whole Continent into one vast empire, with the kings and
princes over the several nations all subject to him.

Then there was a third coalition from which Prussia still held aloof,
and which was composed of England, Austria, Russia, and Sweden.
Alexander I. was now Emperor of Russia, and the timorous and
unpatriotic policy of Prussia was guided by Frederick William III., who
had succeeded his father Frederick William II.

The Prussian King, influenced by antagonism to Austria and by the hope
of obtaining safety and reward for Prussia, stubbornly maintained his
attitude of neutrality, while the German Empire was receiving its
death-blow at Austerlitz.  That "battle of the three Emperors," as it
is called, was a paralyzing defeat to the Allies.

Prussia ignominiously received Hanover as her reward, and seventeen
German states, including Bavaria, Baden, Würtemberg, and
Hesse-Darmstadt, formally separated themselves from the German Empire
and declared themselves subject to the French Emperor.  This was known
as the Rheinbund.

The German Empire was now reduced to three separate bodies: the
Rheinbund, a federation of states giving willing allegiance to
Napoleon; _Prussia_, practically in alliance with her destroyer; and
_Austria_, helpless in that destroyer's grasp, while he, sitting in the
Imperial Palace at Vienna, dictated terms of peace.

The Empire was broken beyond repair.  On the 6th of August its
dissolution was formally announced.  Francis II. abdicated the Imperial
crown and assumed the title of the "Emperor of Austria."

It was not the people of Prussia who bartered their allegiance to the
fatherland for peace and for Hanover.  It was their King and princes
who brought this stain upon them, and their beautiful Queen Louise,
mother of the late Emperor William, had pleaded in vain with the King
to pursue a loyal and patriotic course.

The punishment came swiftly.  The insatiate conqueror had no thought of
leaving a great state like Prussia undisturbed.  And soon it developed
that his plan was also to create a northern bund under his
protectorate, which would be composed of the Prussian states on the
northern coast.

Forced in her own defense to take up arms, Prussia suffered a terrible
defeat at Jena, 1806.  The conqueror for whose friendship Frederick
William had sacrificed his country was in Berlin.  The beautiful
Prussian Queen who, he knew, had used her influence against him, was
treated with the grossest insolence, while for the cowed people
recently in revolt, and now prostrating themselves, he did not restrain
his contempt.

The Peace of Tilsit (1807) determined the full measure of Prussia's
retribution.  Her Polish acquisitions were made into a "Grand Duchy of
Warsaw," under a French protectorate.  One half of the rest of her
territory was converted into a kingdom of Westphalia, over which
Napoleon's brother Jerome was king.  To the remainder of Prussia was
assigned the burden of an immense indemnity, and the maintenance of a
French army in her territory.

But the cup of humiliation was not drained until later when, standing
with the Continent under his feet, Napoleon compelled the Prussian King
to join the Rheinbund with what was left of his kingdom, to furnish
France with troops, and thus to become tributary to his designs upon

Napoleon in the meantime, in an hour's interview with Alexander of
Russia, had by the magic of his influence secured that Emperor's
friendship.  All this excellent man was fighting for was the peace of
Europe!  And he disclosed to Alexander his plan that they two should be
the eternal custodians of that peace; which was to be secured by
restraining the arrogance of England; and that was to be done by
destroying her commercial prosperity.  All of Europe was to be
forbidden to trade with that country.  There was to be a Continental
blockade against a "nation of shopkeepers."  Alexander was completely
won, and he promised not to molest his new friend in his benevolent

The provinces dependent upon France were now divided up into kingdoms
and principalities, and to make his own control over them more assured,
Napoleon placed members of his own family and personal friends upon the
various thrones.

His brother Louis was created King of Holland.  His brother-in-law
Murat was made King of Naples; Eugene Beauharnais, his step-son,
Viceroy of Italy.  Jerome Bonaparte, as we have seen, was King of
Westphalia, and his brother Joseph he had already made King of Spain,
in the time he could spare from more important matters in Germany.

And what was the real sentiment in Germany concerning this man at such
a time?  We hear that ninety German authors dedicated books to him and
that servile newspapers were praising him; and we know that one of the
immortal compositions of Beethoven was inspired by him.  But we must
recollect that he was too colossal and too dazzling to be accurately
measured, except from a distance.  Even yet we are almost too near to
him for that, and the world is as divided in its estimate of Napoleon
as of the true meaning of Shakspeare's "Hamlet."  It is an eternal
controversy.  He was a monstrous creation; colossal in his plans,
colossal in his grasp of the forces about him, colossal in ambition, in
selfishness, in cruelty, and in intelligence.

Napoleon realized the value of hereditary grandeur.  He had been able
to climb without it; but the sons who would succeed him as masters of
Christendom must have the dignity of ancestry to fortify them.  No
blood but the Hapsburg was fit for this great office.  He swept away
Josephine as remorselessly as he had the Pope in Rome, and compelled
Francis II. to bestow his daughter Marie Louise upon the man who had
stripped him of his Crown and his Empire, and who was steadily
absorbing what remained of his dignity.

The marriage took place in 1810, and with his Hapsburg Empress,
Napoleon established a temporary court at Dresden.

Then there commenced the process which was intended finally to engulf
all the separate German kingdoms in one universal abyss.  The Kingdom
of Holland was first annexed to the French Empire; then North Germany
was swallowed up in the same way; the same fate evidently being
intended next for the Rheinbund.  The satellites had begun to fall into
the sun!


To the man guiding these astounding changes it seemed a very small
matter then that a handful of Tyrolese peasants were in revolt against
the French King in Bavaria; nor that a small group of philosophers,
poets, and men of letters, were consulting together in Prussia over the
shame of their betrayal by their rulers, and considering plans for
guiding a popular movement for the emancipation of Germany.

But these were the first stirrings of a force Napoleon had not before
had to contend with.  He had fought with kings and princes and proud
aristocracies clinging to their ancient splendor and possessions, but
his armies had never been face to face with _patriotism_.

He had not met it, because it did not exist in the German Empire until
he himself made its existence possible by breaking up the old stifling
tyrannies.  Now a few patriotic and courageous men all over Germany
were combining, and inciting the people to revolt; an association
called "The League of Virtue" was created.  Then the Tyrolese peasants
were subdued and their leader Hofer was shot in cold blood by
Napoleon's orders.  The King of Prussia was ordered to suppress the
"League of Virtue," and French spies supposed they were uprooting
patriotism by reporting it as treason to France.

Napoleon was at this moment at the climax of his greatness.  He decreed
that Rome should be annexed to his empire, and that his infant son
should receive the title "King of Rome," which title should thereafter
belong to the oldest son of the French Emperor.  What if this did bring
curses upon his name?  He was now beyond the reach of blessings or
curses from men; and probably was rather pleased than otherwise when
Alexander I. threw off their sentimental friendship and defied him, by
abandoning the plan of a Continental blockade for the ruin of England.

Now he was free to develop his gigantic plan.  Does anyone suppose that
the conquest of Russia was all of that plan?  Far from it!  There is
every reason to believe that it was his intention, after Russia was
subdued, to press on into Asia and to expel the English from their
precious India!

Not since the days of Attila had there been seen such an army as was
led into Russia--six hundred thousand men, of whom only one out of
twenty was ever to return!  And was it the lives of Frenchmen that he
was spending so lavishly?  Not at all.  This great host was composed
chiefly of Germans, Austrians, Prussians, Saxons, Bavarians, Swiss, who
should have been fighting for their own liberation at home.

Lest Prussia should revolt in his absence the wary Napoleon garrisoned
that kingdom with sixty thousand French troops, and took the sons of
Prussia with him for the great human sacrifice in Russia.

It was the 7th of September when the great army moved.  On and on they
marched for two months through a silent and deserted land, only to
reach at last a mysteriously silent city.  Had a whole people fled at
his approach?  Napoleon took up his quarters in the Kremlin.  Suddenly
fires broke out in a hundred places.  The city became a roaring
furnace.  In vain did they try to stay the conflagration.  In a few
hours Moscow, his rich prize, was a mass of ruin and ashes.

Napoleon waited for a message from Alexander begging for peace; but
none came.  Then the snowflakes began to fall and fierce winds began to
sweep down from the north.  At length his stubborn pride had to bend.
He sent his messengers to Alexander--still there was no answer.
Provisions were failing, and there were leagues and leagues of deep and
white snow between him and food for his famishing soldiers.

Then the Russians came.  How could this starved, benumbed, frightened
wreck of a great army stand before the Cossacks?  The story of that
"retreat" could never be written.  Men, hollow-eyed and gaunt with
misery, flung away their arms and fought with each other like wolves
for a morsel of bread or a dead horse.

On the 5th of December Napoleon quietly slipped away, leaving the
freezing, famishing victims of his ambition to make their own way back
as they could; knowing that for all, save a fragment, of that mighty
host the snow must be a winding sheet.

When Frederick William III. accepted that last humiliation and sent a
Prussian army in the train of the conqueror to fight his battles, while
Frenchmen guarded Prussians at home, the indignation was deep and
wide-spread.  Three of his best generals, Blücher and two others,

The Prussian contingent in the great invading army, which was under
General York, had escaped many of the horrors of the retreat; and had
returned with seventeen thousand out of the sixty thousand which had
entered Russia.

This Prussian commander, as soon as he crossed the line with his
soldiers, on his own responsibility abandoned the French and arranged a
treaty of neutrality with the Russian general.  Frederick disavowed the
act, but it was received by the people of Prussia with wild enthusiasm.
York called an assembly together at Königsberg, and boldly ordered that
all men capable of bearing arms should be mustered into the Prussian

The force of public sentiment revealed by this was too overwhelming for
the King to oppose.  It swiftly swelled into a popular uprising in
which all classes took part.  It was the first great patriotic movement
in Germany; and to Prussia belongs the glory of having initiated it.
It was the Prussian people who converted their whole male population
into an army and their country into an arsenal, and with one voice, and
animated by one heart, refused longer to bear the degradation put upon
them by their King.  Hitherto the people had been led by their rulers.
Now for a brief time they were going to be leaders, reluctantly
followed by kings and princes.

Within five months two hundred and seventy thousand men were under arms
and Frederick had been obliged to declare war against the Emperor of
the French, in alliance with Russia and Sweden.  Austria remained
neutral, but the Rheinbund, with only two exceptions, still held to

Napoleon by the irresistible magic of his influence assembled an army
nearly as large as the one he had just sacrificed in Russia.  The
campaign opened in April (1813).  By June his star seemed to be waning,
and Austria offered to mediate a peace.  Napoleon insulted Metternich,
who brought the proposals, and Francis II. joined the allies against
his son-in-law.  In October the end arrived.

The battle of Leipzig was to the people of Germany what Jena and
Austerlitz had been to Napoleon.  The news of this great victory was
electrifying.  From the Baltic to the Alps the air resounded with

There are no persuasions needed to make people leave a sinking ship.
Jerome Bonaparte fled from his kingdom of Westphalia--the Rheinbund
dissolved--Holland, Switzerland, Italy fell away.  Wurtemberg joined
the allies and the great movement for emancipation became national, not

The allied princes offered to Napoleon that the Rhine, the Alps, the
Pyrenees, and the sea should be the frontiers of France.  Still
believing in his invincibility, he scorned the proposition.  His star
had certainly deserted him, for while he was collecting his broken
forces in Germany, and while hope was reviving over small victories,
the allied armies, unknown to him, were advancing on Paris!

He learned it too late.  History holds no picture more powerfully
impressive than that of this man waiting at Fontainebleau, twelve
leagues from Paris, still believing in his power to retrieve, and
unconscious that he is already deposed!  And the magic of his
influence, the power of the spell he cast over mankind, is illustrated
by the fact that even now, knowing him to have been a tyrant and a
scourge as we do, rejoicing in his defeat as we must, we still cannot
look at that picture without a moistened eye and almost a regret at his

Alexander, and Frederick William, and the allied armies were in Paris,
which had capitulated, and at their bidding had consented to the
deposition of Napoleon.

On the 6th of April, 1814, Louis XVIII., brother of the murdered Louis,
was proclaimed King of France, and to the man who had been master of
Europe was assigned--the island of Elba on the coast of Italy.

But in March of the following year, while sovereigns were still
wrangling over the disorder he had left, and while Talleyrand was
scheming for his new master as faithfully as he had for the old, the
startling news came that Napoleon had landed in France.  Louis XVIII.
vanished into thin air before the man whom the people were receiving
with wild acclamations of delight.

Europe again united, and again Napoleon was seen advancing, as of old,
with a great army.  Blücher was in command of one division of the
allied armies and Wellington of the other.

The battle of Waterloo began on the morning of the 18th of June, 1815.
To England was to belong the glory of Napoleon's final downfall.
Wellington accomplished his defeat, and then Blücher came in time to
make that defeat an annihilation.

The mistake of the year before was not to be repeated.  From that
moment until his death at St. Helena, in 1821, Napoleon was a prisoner
and an exile.  He had finished the work he had been appointed to do,
and Fate had flung him aside!


Now came the difficult task of reconstruction and redistribution of
territory.  In what form should they arise out of this chaos?  The
dream of the people, like that of Hermann eighteen hundred years
before, was of a German UNITY; not a renewal of the empire, but a great
and new national life, in some firmer and truer form than it had yet
known.  But these were only dreams, vague and without any practical
ideas as to their realization.

In the meantime men well versed in the arts and tricks of governing
were deciding how all should be arranged.  The plan proposed by
Metternich, that master of diplomacy, who was minister to the Emperor
of Austria, was the one adopted.

There was to be a confederation of thirty-nine German states.  The _Act
of Union_, by which this was effected, had a pleasant sound to the ear
of the German people.  But the Union existed only in a mutual defense
against foreign foes, and a mutual aid in keeping the people of Germany
well in check!  The one outward and visible expression of this _Unity_
was in a _General Diet_, to be held at Frankfort, under the presidency
of Austria!

And this was what the _people_ who had liberated their country were to
receive as their reward!  They were in no way recognized; were to
possess no political power; the right of suffrage was not bestowed, and
the Diet was prohibited from making any change in this form of
confederation, except by a _unanimous_ (_!_) vote.  The German people
were practically effaced and lost sight of in an autocratic
confederation of states, with the Austrian Empire at its head.

That empire had received back its Italian possessions.  Prussia had
recovered Westphalia and her territory on the Rhine, and given up her
Polish territory to Russia.  Belgium and Holland had been merged into a
kingdom of the Netherlands.  Saxony, Wurtemberg, and Bavaria, which
states had been made kingdoms by Napoleon, were permitted to remain
such.  Switzerland was a republic; and by the successful diplomacy of
Talleyrand, Alsace and Lorraine, those insecure possessions, passed to

Such were some of the territorial adjustments.  That the rulers of
these kingdoms were reactionary in their purposes soon became apparent.
One of the first acts of the King of Wurtemberg was to court-martial
and cashier the general who had gone over to the German side at the
battle of Leipzig!  If none had gone over to the German side, where
would have been the kingdom of Wurtemberg?  In Mecklenburg the people
were openly declared serfs.  The Elector of Hesse-Cassel gave evidence
that he was looking backward by putting his soldiers into the dress of
the last century and powdered queues, and almost without exception the
sovereigns were trying to construe the provisions of the _Act of Union_
in a way to give the least liberty to the German people.

The currents of German thought and feeling move slowly, but they are
deep and persistent.  They had never been intemperate in their desires
for freedom, but had simply asked for a government which should be more
in conformity with the existing views of human rights.  Their
disappointment had been profound and bitter.  The fathers earnestly
talked over their wrongs at home, while their more fiery sons at the
universities made speeches, sang songs, and banded themselves together
into societies, with mottoes and badges and insignia, all under the
same inspiring ideas,--UNION AND FREEDOM.

This began to look like Revolution.  The freedom of the press was
abolished.  The formation of societies among students and mechanics was
prohibited, and the universities were placed under the immediate
control of the government.  A savage police system was established.
Hundreds of young men were thrown into prison, and hundreds more fled
the country.

But while this repression produced a calm surface, it did not change
the conditions beneath.  In the meantime a "Holy Alliance" had been
formed between Russia, Austria, and Prussia, for the purpose of
repressing aspirations toward liberty in other lands, where this
pestilential modern spirit was also rife.

But in 1830 there was a popular uprising in France.  Charles X.,
another brother of the murdered Louis, had been pursuing a reactionary
policy precisely similar to the one employed by the sovereigns in
Germany.  It was too late to do that in France.  The people with small
ceremony flung the Bourbon aside, and set up a constitutional monarchy
with Louis Philippe at its head.  This stirred anew the latent feeling
in Germany.  The people did not rise in a body, but so threatening did
it appear that the Diet quickly yielded certain reforms and concessions
for fear of more extreme resistance.

Francis II. died in 1835, and was succeeded by an almost imbecile son,
Ferdinand I.  In 1840 Frederick William III. of Prussia also died, and
Frederick William IV., his son, became King.  Metternich was now
guiding the affairs of Austria, and William von Humboldt was the
adviser of the new Prussian King, who inspired the people with a hope
of better things.  But while this King fostered science and art, he
gave little care to the redressing of political wrongs, and things
drifted toward a crisis.

Again a revolution in France reacted upon Germany.  In 1848, Louis
Philippe was cast aside as unceremoniously as had been his predecessor,
and a Republic was proclaimed, with Louis Napoleon, nephew of the great
Napoleon, at its head.

This new Bonaparte was a son of Louis Bonaparte, whom his imperial
brother had made King of Holland.  He married Hortense, the daughter of
Josephine.  So Fate intended that a child of the discarded Josephine,
and not of Napoleon, should rule over France.

The proclamation of a republic in France awoke the slumbering forces of
revolution in Europe.  Not in one place, nor in two, did the fires
spring up, but simultaneously in every German state.  Hungary, led by
Kossuth, was in revolt, and fighting to the death to be freed from the
Hapsburgs.  In Italy Victor Emmanuel, the young King of Sardinia, was
trying to drive the Austrian governor of Milan out of the kingdom, and
when checked, he shook his sword at the advancing Austrians and said
prophetically, "_There shall yet be an Italy!_"  And while these things
were going on in Italy and in Hungary, men were fighting in the streets
of Vienna.  The ozone of freedom had penetrated even to that last
stronghold of despotic sentiment.  The Emperor Ferdinand abdicated in
this time of agitation, and his young nephew, Francis Joseph, ascended
the Austrian throne.

The things the people were demanding in every state were: freedom of
speech and of the press; the right of every man to bear arms; of all to
assemble when and where they liked for political or other purposes;
trial by jury; and the abolition of the hated Diet, with a complete
reorganization of the state governments.

The princes were terrified.  It seemed as if their expulsion, like that
of Louis Philippe, was at hand.

And so it was, and would have ensued, had the people known their power
or how to use it.  But gradually the opportunity was lost.  Concessions
were made, new liberties were gained, but the _Unity_ they hungered for
was to come in another and unexpected way, and for ten years the
confederation was to exist practically unchanged.

Still, although the fruits of their efforts seemed meager in comparison
with what had been hoped, there had been one great concession made.
The Diet, under the pressure of the crisis, had consented to steps
which led finally to the formation of a National Parliament.

When that parliament met at Frankfort, German patriots believed the
hour of liberation had struck.  Full of hope and confidence they
thought the end was attained, when six hundred men of character and
intelligence came together to formulate a new plan of union based upon
_The Sovereignty of the People_!

But such a task requires something more than patriotism and enthusiasm,
and theoretic views about human rights.  It needs practical political
experience, and clearly defined plans for action.  After vainly trying
to harmonize conflicting opinions a plan of union was finally adopted,
and Frederick William IV. was elected "Hereditary Emperor of Germany."

All save the smaller states refused to accede to the proposed plan, and
Frederick William himself declined the proffered title, saying, "They
forget that there are princes still in Germany, and that I am one of

So the attempt at reorganization was a miserable failure, and the
national parliament gradually dissolved.  In the meantime the
revolutionary fires in Europe had burned out.  Hungary was again
submissive in the grasp of the Hapsburgs, and Austria was also once
more supreme in Italy; while the French republic, which had lighted
this conflagration, had become a monarchy.

The national party had developed no great leader, had shown no ability
to grasp its opportunity.  The people, disheartened and in sullen
disappointment, saw the old Bund-Diet restored at Frankfort, in 1851,
and found themselves back in a slightly improved and amended
confederation, still under the headship of Austria.

Then Louis Napoleon's assumption of Imperial power, in 1851, gave
renewed strength to the German rulers.  It demonstrated the instability
of popular governments, and the sure return to the good old methods of
their fathers, as soon as the temporary madness of the people had

So all things conspired to depress aspiration and to make the hopes
awakened in 1848 a tantalizing delusion.  It was not night, but it was
a very dark and dreary day for patriotism in Germany.  The country was
under a spell which no one knew how to break.

In 1857 Frederick William IV. was stricken with apoplexy, and his
brother, Prince William, was appointed Prince Regent.

The new emperor of the French, with oppressive sense of the greatness
of his name, was looking about for opportunities to be Napoleonic.  In
1856 he had formed an alliance with England against Russia.  The fact
of the alliance of itself gave weight to the rather flimsy fabric of
his greatness, while the results of the Crimean War added much to its
solidity.  In the year 1859 Italy was vainly struggling to free herself
from the grasp of Austria.  Mazzini, the exalted dreamer, and
Garibaldi, the soldier and patriot, with Cavour, the no less patriotic
statesman, though with different ends in view, were working together
for the destruction of the Austrian yoke, which must be preliminary to
any form of Italian nationality.  The astute statesman saw in the
ambition of Napoleon III. a means to that end.

When Napoleon promised an "Italy free from the Alps to the Apennines,"
and when the splendid victory of Magenta was quickly followed by that
of Solferino, and when the young Francis Joseph, with tears in his
eyes, ordered the retreat of his defeated army over the Mincio, the
dream of centuries seemed about to be realized.  Then came the
startling news that the two emperors were in consultation at
Villafranca over the terms of peace!  Venice was not to be liberated.
There was to be a consolidation of the Italian kingdoms "under the
honorary Presidency of the Pope"--whatever that meant--and a "general
amnesty" was declared.  It was with sullen rage that the disappointed
patriots saw Nice and Savoy handed over to France, and Rome garrisoned
with French troops, while a French emperor was posing as the liberator
of an Italy which was not liberated!  But although the mills of the
gods were moving slowly, they were going to grind exceeding fine.
Victor Emmanuel and a regenerated Italy were not far off, and for
Germany there was at hand a new era.

Frederick William IV. died, and in 1861 William I. was crowned King of


King William's youth was far behind him.  He had already spent a long
life (sixty-four years) and had never expected to occupy a throne.  He
had not the brilliant qualities of his brother, he did not concern
himself much about science or letters; but he was profoundly impressed
with the responsibilities of his position; and it at once became
apparent that Prussia had a wise and sagacious King, who would make her
well-being his sole care and ambition.

His first act was a thorough reorganization of the army.  Then he
looked about him for a man wise enough and strong enough for him to
lean upon.  Baron Otto von Bismarck-Schönhausen had just returned from
St. Petersburg, where he had been Prussian ambassador.

He was a conservative of the extreme type, hated and feared by the
liberal and national party no less than Metternich.  But no man better
than he comprehended the policy of Austria, and all the complicated
threads composing the web of German politics.

The choice of this man for minister to the King augured ill for the
liberals.  The outlook had never been darker than at this hour before
the dawn.

But great political storms, like storms of another sort, are full of
surprises.  The ominous storm clouds we have feared roll away and
vanish in calm, and the little ones, not larger than a man's hand,
suddenly expand and darken our sky.  A fateful storm was gathering for
Germany in the duchy of Schleswig-Holstein.

Of the nature of the Schleswig-Holstein entanglement someone (Was it
Beaconsfield?) wittily said that there were only two men in Europe who
understood it, himself and another; and the other was dead.  But that
was a mistake.  There was a man in Prussia who understood it, and who
lived to use it for his own far-reaching designs.

The principal threads in the tangled web were as follows:

The two adjacent dukedoms of Schleswig and Holstein, which constitute a
sort of natural bridge about 150 miles long and 50 miles wide, between
Denmark and Prussia, are, by the way, the land of nativity for the
Anglo-Saxon race, the Angles having inhabited Schleswig, and the Saxons
Holstein, at the time they so kindly protected the Britons from the
Picts and Scots.

So it is probable that every member of the Anglo-Saxon family has some
ancestral root running back to that fertile strip of pasture land.

It had for many years been under the Danish protectorate, the King of
Denmark being, by virtue of his position, also Duke of
Schleswig-Holstein, just as the German Emperor is now King of Prussia
by virtue of his imperial office.

But this little people was by no means merged with the Danish by this
arrangement; on the contrary, they preserved very jealously their own
traits and ancestral traditions.  Among these was the exclusion of
women from the royal succession--the Salic law, framed by their Frank
ancestors centuries before on the banks of the river Saale, being part
of their constitution.  Hence, when King Frederick VII. of Denmark died
in 1862 without male heir, and King Christian IX. became King, the
people of the two dukedoms hotly refused to recognize him as their
lawful ruler, but claimed their right of reversion to Duke Frederick
VIII., who was in the direct male line of succession.

Had the Salic law prevailed in Denmark, this Duke Frederick (father of
the present young Empress of Germany) would now be King of Denmark
instead of Christian IX.  But it did not exist, so Christian, father of
the Dowager Empress of Russia--of the Princess of Wales--and of King
George of Greece--became, in 1862, lawful King of Denmark, with rights
unimpaired by female descent.

Schleswig-Holstein revolted against being held by a ruler who,
according to her constitution, was not the terminal of the royal line,
and insisted upon bestowing herself instead upon the German Duke
Frederick VIII.  Denmark naturally resisted.  Salic law or no Salic
law, the dukedoms were hers, and should stay.  Of course Austria, as
the head of the German confederation, had to be consulted, and she
thought well of uniting with Prussia to compel the cession of the twin
dukedoms, which would have been quickly absorbed had not the European
powers intervened and forbidden this encroachment upon the rights of

It was just at this crisis that Bismarck was appointed prime minister
of Prussia, and commenced his series of brilliant moves upon the
European chessboard.

King Christian of Denmark, pleased with his success in retaining the
refractory states, determined to go still farther; that is, to adopt a
new constitution separating these Siamese twins, which should, in fact,
detach Schleswig from Holstein, incorporating it permanently with

This was in direct violation of the treaty with the Great Powers made
in London, 1852, and afforded the needed pretext for war.

The moment and the man had arrived.  Bismarck, with the intuition of a
good player, saw his opportunity, pushed up the pawn,
Schieswig-Holstein, and said, "Check to your king."

The Prussian and Austrian troops poured into Denmark, and in a few
short weeks the blooming isthmus had ceased to be Danish and had become

Austria generously said, "We will divide the prize.  Schleswig shall be
Prussian, and Holstein Austrian."

Could anything be more odious to the Prussians?  The long arm of
Austrian tyranny stretching way over their land, up to their northern
seaboard!  It might better have become Danish.  But all things come to
him who waits, and--Bismarck waited.

Neither Austria nor the German people had the slightest comprehension
of the Minister's deep-laid plans.  When he said that the German
question could "only be settled by blood and steel," the people
construed it as the brutal utterance of despotism.  And when it looked
as if they might be involved in a war with Austria over this paltry
Holstein affair they were stunned, and believed that a desperate man
was leading Prussia to her ruin for his own ambitious purposes.  What
could they with their nineteen millions of people do against Austria,
with her fifty millions!

But Bismarck cared not and heeded not.  He was too intent upon his
game.  He knew what no one else seemed to know, that there was no
chance for Germany until she was emancipated from Austria.

Again he pushed up his useful little pawn and said "check," but this
time to the Emperor of Austria.  Ah! here was a game worth watching.
Europe and America, too, were willing to let their morning coffee get
cold in studying the moves.  Francis Joseph did not see as far into the
game as his astute adversary, whose keen eye was focused at long range
upon a renewed Germany, in which there should be no Austria.

The conflict was short (only seven weeks), but the preparation had been
thorough.  The 3d of July will long be remembered by Germany.  King
William was there; the Crown Prince was there, now become "Unser
Fritz," by his superb military achievements, the ideal prince and
soldier of modern Europe; and Königgrätz, like Waterloo, decided the
game.  Francis Joseph was checkmated.  A galling servitude to Austria
existed no more.  What wonder that the people were glad, or that Unser
Fritz was their idol, and Bismarck became their demigod!

A great physician correctly diagnoses the disease before he treats it.
Bismarck knew why the attempts at a German union had been futile.  He
knew such a union never could exist until Austria was eliminated from

An overwhelming revulsion in sentiment followed.  The man whom the
despotic element had leaned upon became the adored leader of the
liberal party.  He had no sentimental theories about human rights.  His
personal tendencies were toward despotism rather than freedom.  But he
had the acuteness to recognize the advantages which would be derived
from a liberal policy and the ardent support of the _people_.

A new confederation of states was formed called the _North German
Union_, with a parliament elected by the people.  It was composed of
all the states except Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Baden.

The several states were united under a general Federal Government,
somewhat like that of the United States of America, of which the King
of Prussia was _President_, and Bismarck was _Chancellor_.

This new union was Protestant and Prussian, and forever separated from
all that was Catholic and Austrian.  In five short years what a change!
Truly, "blood and iron" had proved a wonderful tonic for Germany!

In the year 1763 Prussia won the province of Silesia after a seven
years' war with Austria.  Just one century later, in 1866, a war of
seven weeks with that same power placed her at the head of a firmly
consolidated German nation.  A result so astonishing from a conflict so
brief must ever be a phenomenon in history; and had it been necessary,
seven years would not have been too long to struggle for such a reward.

And what of poor little Schleswig-Holstein, that land of our race
nativity?  If she had indulged in any innocent expectation of benefit
from such brilliant espousal of her cause she was disappointed.  And
she must have realized that she had been only the humble hinge upon
which the door of opportunity had swung open for Germany.


There was a man in France to whom these overturnings were especially
distasteful.  Napoleon III., sitting in brand-new splendor upon his
newly created throne, was industriously engaged in building up an
empire and a reputation upon Napoleonic lines.  These lines of course
were despotic.  So the triumph of liberalism in Germany, the creation
of a new political power with Austria and despotism cast out, was a
severe blow to his policy and to his prestige.  It weakened him in
Europe, where he aspired to headship, and at home, where he should be
considered invincible, not alone in arms, but in statecraft.

The Crimea, Magenta, and Solferino had been splendid decorations to his
reign; but they looked tame and insignificant since this transforming
_Seven Weeks' War_.  Then, too, his magnificent scheme of an empire in
Mexico, with a Hapsburg ruling under a French protectorate--that had
miserably failed.  And now there had suddenly arisen, as if out of the
ground, a new political Germany, which rivaled France in strength.
Frenchmen began to ask whether this man was, after all, such a great
leader, and destined to wear the mantle of his uncle!

Obviously the thing to do was to recover his waning prestige by a
splendid victory over this new power of which Prussia was the head.

If the Emperor had any misgivings they were swept away by the beautiful
Empress Eugénie, who, intensely Catholic, saw in the ascendency of
Protestant Prussia, and the humiliation of Catholic Austria, an impious
blow at the Catholic faith in Europe.

So the war was determined upon.  Only one obstacle existed.  There was
nothing to fight about!  But that could be overcome, and in 1870 a
pretext was found.

Queen Isabella had been expelled from Spain, and there existed that
perennial source of disturbance in Europe, a vacant Spanish throne.
From among the several candidates, Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern, a
relative of William I. of Prussia, was chosen.

The French ambassador Benedetti received instant orders to demand of
King William that he should prohibit Prince Leopold from accepting the

The King made answer that "not having advised it, he could not forbid
it."  However, to the disappointment of the Emperor, the Hohenzollern
prince voluntarily declined, and the way to a war seemed closed again.

But the Empress Eugénie was intent upon her object, and the war-fever
had taken deep hold upon the people of France.  So the fateful dispatch
was sent to Benedetti--"Be rough to the King."

The kindly old King William was peacefully sunning himself at Ems, when
the ambassador discourteously approached him and made an abrupt demand
for a guarantee that no Hohenzollern should _ever_ occupy the throne of
Spain.  The words and the manner were offensive--as they were intended
to be.

The King, recognizing an intended impertinence, without replying turned
away and left Benedetti standing.  Here was the opportunity.  The
telegraph swiftly bore the news that the French ambassador had been
publicly insulted by the King of Prussia.  France was in a blaze of
indignation.  These Prussians should be taught that the great French
Empire was not to be insulted with impunity.

Not a shadow of doubt existed as to the result.  The French army was
invincible, and the southern German states would be glad at the
deliverance.  They would welcome an invading army, and perhaps Hesse
and Hanover also would revolt and the new Prussian confederation would
fall to pieces in their hands.  The birthday of Napoleon I., the 15th
of August, must be celebrated in Berlin!

Such were the wild expectations when the French army moved, bearing
away with it the boy Prince Imperial, that he might witness for himself
his father's triumphs, and receive an object lesson, as it were, in
avenging insult to the imperial dignity, which would one day be in his

This was the way it looked in France.  How was it in Germany?  There
was no north and no south German.  Men and states sprang together as a
unit, showing how vital was the bond which had existed only for four
years.  It was no longer a German race combining with a common purpose,
but a German nation instinct with one life, and solemnly resolved to
defend it or to perish.  In only eleven days an army of four hundred
and fifty thousand soldiers was under the command of Moltke, with the
Crown Prince Frederick William leading one of the three great divisions.

In less than three weeks, instead of waging an aggressive war in
Germany, the French were fighting for their existence on their own soil.

In less than a month the French Emperor was a prisoner, and in seven
months his empire was swept out of existence; the Germans were in
Paris--and King William, Unser Fritz, Bismarck, and Von Moltke were
quartered at Versailles.

France had given up Alsace and Lorraine, had agreed to pay an indemnity
of _five thousand millions_ of francs, and was glad to have peace even
at that price!

The surrenders of Metz (August 4), and of Sedan (September 2), were
monumental disasters, and history would be searched in vain for such a
crushing defeat of a proud and strong nation as was consummated by the
Treaty of Peace signed at Paris on the 10th of May, 1871.

Even the three southern states, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, and Baden, had
participated in this Franco-Prussian war.  So the last barrier to a
completed union was removed, and a dramatic climax occurred in the Hall
of Mirrors at Versailles on the 18th of January, 1871.

In that very hall where Richelieu, and Louis XIV., and Louis XV. had
schemed to entangle and cripple and rob Germany, and where Napoleon I.
had plotted the destruction of the German Empire, Ludwig II., King of
Bavaria, in the name of the rest of the German states, laid their
united allegiance at the feet of King William of Prussia, begging him
to assume the crown and with it the title of "Hereditary Emperor of the
German Empire."

It is a curious fact that Bavaria, which had always been a thorn in the
side of the Empire, which from the time of the first Duke Welf had
stood for all that was conservative and despotic and reactionary,
should have taken the initiative in the final act which set a seal upon
the triumph of liberalism in Germany.  It was recompense full and ample
for the trouble she had given in the past!

The return to Germany was a march of triumph.  The popular enthusiasm
knew no bounds.  It was less than ten years since those days of gloom
and depression.  What a change had been wrought!  Was it all done by
blood and iron?  They had been mighty factors certainly, but they had
been used by a masterful intelligence, which had also recognized the
power of _patriotism_.  The empire which was immediately organized was
simply a renewal of the _North German Union_.

The dream of Hermann had at last been realized.  There was a United

When in 1888 Emperor William I. sank under the weight of years and the
crown rested upon the head of his son Frederick, that adored prince was
no longer in the full tide of victorious youth, but being borne by a
swiftly ebbing tide beyond the reach of earthly honors.  He was a
stricken and indeed a dying man when the opportunity came to carry out
the policy he had intended for Germany.

What that policy was we shall never know, nor whether it would have
been a safe and a wise one.  We are sure it would have been beneficent,
for no gentler, kindlier prince ever had power and opportunity.

The distrust of him manifested by the conservative party, and notably
by Bismarck, and one still nearer to him, leads us to believe that he
leaned too strongly toward the ideal of the patriots of 1860.  But we
shall never know.  We can only conjecture whether in Frederick's death
Germany escaped a danger or missed an opportunity.

The unseemly dissensions, the heartbreaking complications, which
tormented this dying man make one of the saddest chapters in history;
and his reign of five months can scarcely be matched in suffering.  At
last it was ended.  The untarnished soul and tortured body parted
company, and William II. reigned in his stead.

It is not the province of history to pass judgment upon the living.
When the young Emperor William II. dismissed his great chancellor, he
assumed the full responsibility of his empire.  Whether he has the
intelligence and the wisdom required to control, unaided, the forces at
home, or to guide his bark amid the whirl of European currents, later
histories will tell.

But one thing is very certain.  Time spent to-day in riveting
antiquated chains upon Germany is time thrown away; and the ruler who
desires his work to be permanent must turn his back upon medievalism
and must realize that the true source of abiding power in his country
is that sentiment which emancipated her from Napoleon in 1814, and
which in 1871 made of her a UNITED GERMANY.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Short History of Germany" ***

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