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The Reformation; Wars of Charles V. page 2

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In February, 1546, Luther died at Eisleben, and was buried at Wittenberg. The measure of the intellectual and moral grandeur of his character is the hatred still borne towards him by the adherents of the Church which ought rather to cherish a feeling of gratitude to the man who compelled her, in very shame, to self-reform. His breadth of human sympathy, his spiritual genius, his energy, courage, strength of will, and consequent triumph over vast difficulties, have placed him on an eminence of renown in the history of the world from which no criticism or calumny have ever been able to lower him. The death of the reformer appeared to be the signal for war. The Council of Trent, summoned by Pope Paul III., at the emperor's request, had met in 1545. The Lutherans would not attend it, alleging that the Pope, as a party to the dispute, had prejudged their case as that of "heretics." The leaders of the Schmalkaldic League, John Frederick, elector of Saxony, and Philip, landgrave of Hesse, were placed under the ban of the empire, and both sides prepared for the appeal to arms.

When the war opened, disunion and delay injured the cause of the League. With a large force at his command, Charles first subdued the free imperial cities connected with the Lutherans, and other supporters in southern Germany. In April, 1547, the victory of Muhlberg, gained over the Saxony troops near Torgau, on the Elbe, gave the emperor a complete triumph, and placed the elector and Philip of Hesse as prisoners in his hands. The electorate of Saxony was transferred to Duke Maurice, and the Catholic cause in Germany appeared to be safe. Maurice, however, soon resolved to change sides and to join the Lutherans, and made a secret treaty with Henry II. of France, who was willing, on political grounds only, to aid him against the emperor. Maurice, in 1552, marched southwards with a large force, and nearly captured Charles by surprise at Innsbruck, in the Tyrol, while the French king, invading Lorraine as "Protector of the Liberties of Germany," seized the territory of the three bishoprics of Metz, Toul, and Verdun. The emperor, left unaided by the Catholic princes, who were jealous of his power, was compelled to liberate Philip of Hesse, and to conclude, in 1552, the Convention of Passau, granting free exercise of their religion to the Lutherans until the next Diet. In 1555 the Diet of Augsburg concluded the "Religious Peace" which granted, to the Lutheran free cities and princes, freedom of worship, and the retention of ecclesiastical property that had been seized, and gave to the government of each state in Germany the right of tolerating both religions, or of suppressing either the one or the other. Such was, for the time, the settlement reached in Germany, a mere truce between two strongly opposed parties, each believing the other to hold deadly error in religious views, and the Catholics regarding the Protestants as possessors of stolen Church property.

We may briefly notice the wars of Charles V. before dealing with the Reformation in other European countries. The enmity of Francis I. of France towards the emperor arose from the angry jealousy of the French king on his failure as a competitor for election to the empire. In 1522 the allied forces of the emperor and the Pope (Leo X.) drove the French from the Milanese territory, and Francis was prevented from entering Italy by sea through the capture of Genoa by the imperial troops. In the following year the French sovereign made another attempt on Lombardy, but his troops were again driven out in 1524, with the loss, during the retreat, of the Chevalier Bayard, mortally wounded and made prisoner as he gallantly led the rear-guard. As the hero, of spotless fame, lay dying at the foot of a tree, still face to the foe, he replied to some words of pity from their leader, the renegade Constable Bourbon of France, with the rebuke, "I need no pity, dying as a man of honour should; you are to be pitied, fighting against your king, your country, and your oath." Francis then crossed Mount Cenis and entered Milan, but in February, 1525, he was utterly defeated in front of Pavia by the Constable, losing thousands of men in the battle or by drowning in the Ticino, and being taken prisoner along with his brother-in-law the king of Navarre. Several of the greatest nobles and captains of France, and Richard de la Pole, grandson of the duke of Clarence (brother of Edward IV. of England), fighting on the French side, perished on this memorable day. This great victory established the power of Charles V. in northern Italy. The French king, taken as a captive to Spain, obtained his freedom in 1526 by the Treaty of Madrid, in which he renounced his claims to Milan, Genoa, and Naples. On his return to France he repudiated its terms as having been extorted by force. Meanwhile, a general movement in Italy, largely due to the oppressive conduct of the Spanish and other troops of the emperor, was made for the purpose of throwing off the foreign yoke. The people of Naples, Milan, and Genoa, wearied of the presence of garrisons who plundered and murdered at will, were combined with those of Venice, Florence, and the States of the Church, now under Pope Clement VII. (a Medici), in the "Holy League" against Charles, to which Francis and Henry VIII. of England were parties. The Constable, commanding the emperor's troops, defeated the Venetian army, and was then strongly reinforced from Germany and by the viceroy of Naples. Marching southwards, he crossed the Apennines in 1527, entered the upper valley of the Arno, and then made for Rome. The German troops were largely Lutheran, and eager to overthrow the Pope, and they and the Spaniards alike lusted for the spoil of the city. On May 6th, at daybreak, in a thick mist, the place was entered by escalade. The Swiss guard of the Pope and his allies met the assaulting columns with a firm resistance, and the Constable received a mortal wound. Then the place was stormed by furious and superior numbers, and Clement fled for refuge to the Castle of St. Angelo. 40,000 fierce troops, mad with rage and ardent for booty, were in full possession of the capital of the world. The Lutherans destroyed priceless pictures and statues, as idolatrous things; the Spaniards surpassed themselves in cruelty and greed. For seven months the hapless inhabitants were the subjects of every kind of outrage, and the sack of Rome became a scandal to civilisation and a dark blot on the page of history. The Pope, in June, surrendered from lack of provisions, and, held in captivity till September, made his escape in disguise to Orvieto, in Perugia. Henry VIII. and Francis made a fresh alliance against Charles, and French troops entered Italy, took Alessandria, and surprised Pavia. The remains of the army at Rome were led away, by the emperor's commander, wasted by disease, and disorganised by license. Genoa became free by the skilful management of Andrea Doria. The French army went south and blockaded Naples, and the French and Genoese fleets repulsed the Spanish ships which strove to relieve the place. Genoa was lost to the cause by the folly of Francis in offending Doria, and the withdrawal of her ships left the French besiegers in a serious position. Disease wasted their ranks; the enemy's horse harassed them, and nearly all the army ultimately perished. In 1527 the people of Florence, driving out the Medici, the Pope's relatives and supporters, joined France against the emperor, and drew on themselves the enmity of the Pope, who was now anxious to come to terms with Charles. In 1529 the war ended with the Peace of Cambrayy under which Francis paid a large indemnity and renounced his claims on Italy. In 1530 Charles was crowned "King of Italy" and Emperor by the Pope (Clement VII.), at Bologna, being the last holder of the imperial title so distinguished. He was now virtually, in his capacity as king of Spain, master of all the peninsula from the Alps to the extreme south, and throughout Sicily, and the struggle had ended in the humiliation of France, the greatness of Spain, and the slavery of Italy.

Florence was attacked by an army of German cavalry and Spanish infantry, dispatched by the Pope with the consent of Charles. The city was defended by fortifications which had been strengthened under the supervision of Michel-Angelo, and had a militia-force raised at the instance of her famous deceased citizen Niccolo Machiavelli. In order to deprive besiegers of cover, the beautiful suburbs, with their villas and churches, oliveyards and vineyards, pleasant gardens and umbrageous trees, were laid waste for a mile around. An assault was repulsed, and at the end of 1529 the enemy's camp was surprised and much injured in a night attack. In the course of a few months, however, the city was in distress from a strict blockade, and the defeat of a relieving army compelled surrender. The great republic, after 400 years of freedom, was forced to receive the Medici as her masters, and was thus destroyed by the treachery and ambition of one of her own sons, Pope Clement VII. Many patriots were put to death, and the people suffered much during the next six years from the licentious conduct of a Papal garrison. On Clement's death in 1534, his successor, Paul III. (i534-1549), Alessandro Farnese, being desirous of aggrandising his family, rivals of the Medici, strove to help the Florentines against their ruling family, but the attempt failed, and in 1570, when Cosmo the Medici was created Grand Duke of Tuscany by Pope Pius V., Florence ceased to have any independent political life, and became the mere capital of the grand-duchy. Under the successors of Cosmo, seven in number, the last dying in 1737, the state sank into a condition of decay.

Among the expeditions of Charles V. were one against Barbarossa, the piratical ruler of Tunis, in 1535, and another to Algiers in 1541. Tunis was the key of the passage from the west to the eastern basin of the Mediterranean, and in such hands as those of Barbarossa it was a standing menace to the emperor's dominions in Sicily. Charles set forth from Barcelona with a fleet of 600 vessels commanded by Doria of Genoa, having on board a choice body of Spanish, Italian, and German troops. Tunis was captured after some hard righting, and for three days the city was given up to the brutal outrages, admitted even by the Catholic chroniclers, of his licentious soldiers. At this very time, in contrast with the conduct of " Christians," under the banners of the chief Catholic monarch, a grand vizier of the Turkish Sultan was entering Bagdad as a conqueror at the head of wild Asiatic troops, without harm done to a house or human being. Some thousands of Christian slaves were released, and Charles was extolled as a Crusader and knight-errant of chivalry. The attack on Algiers, in which the duke of Alva, and Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, took part, ended in a disgraceful failure (Details may be sought in Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole's charming work The Barbary Corsairs (Story of the Nations series).). In 1536 another war arose between Charles and Francis, when the French king renewed his claim on Milan, on the death of its duke Sforza, who ruled for the emperor. Charles invaded Provence without success, and Francis overran Savoy and Piedmont, while his fleet, in conjunction with that of Barbarossa the corsair, sacked and burned Nizza (Nice).

In 1552 the emperor, at war with Henry II. of France, on account of the French king's seizure of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, as above related, lost many thousands of men in his unsuccessful siege of Metz. Three years later Charles V., worn out by his life's labours in the cabinet and field, resigned the crown of Spain and her colonies, with Naples, Milan, Franche-Comte (a part of Burgundy), and the Netherlands, to his son Philip, and in January, 1556, his. final abdication left the empire to his brother Ferdinand I., already chosen as successor by the electoral princes, along with the hereditary lands of the Hapsburg house. Two years later the ex-emperor died at the monastery of San Yuste (St. Just) in Spain. The history of his rule in Germany had been that of a man who was rather politic than fanatical. In struggling with the Reformation, he had seemed not to be resisting religious freedom absolutely and in itself. He had Protestant allies against the Protestant League, and on one occasion Cardinal Farnese left the imperial camp in disgust because the service of the conventicle was performed beside the sacrifice of the mass. Charles, in Germany, was reduced to concessions and compromises. But elsewhere - in the Netherlands, in Italy, and above all, in Spain - he avenged himself for this extorted hypocrisy, and rigorously applied the principle of unity and constraint in matters of faith. In May, 1558, he wrote from San Yuste to his daughter, then acting as Regent of Spain, on hearing that the doctrines of the Reformation had made their way into Andalusia and Castile, denouncing "so monstrous and insolent an abomination," and counselling its extirpation. A few days before his death, in a codicil to his will, he commanded his son, Philip II. of Spain, Naples, and the Netherlands, to pursue and chastise the heretics with the utmost severity and vigour; to protect the holy office of the Inquisition; and thus "to deserve that our Lord will ensure the prosperity of his reign." The entire history of the execrable bigot to whom these words were addressed shows that the extirpation of heresy, the maintenance of the unity of the faith, by fire and by the sword, were the rule of his policy in every part of his dominions.

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