The Brandenburg Countries, till they become related to the Hohenzollern Family which now rules there, have no History that has proved memorable to mankind. There has indeed been a good deal written under that title; but there is by no means much known, and of that again there is alarmingly little that is worth knowing or remembering.
Pytheas, the Marseilles Travelling Commissioner, looking out for new channels of trade, somewhat above 2,000 years ago, saw the country actually lying there; sailed past it, occasionally landing; and made report to such Marseillese "Chamber of Commerce" as there then was:—report now lost, all to a few indistinct and insignificant fractions. [Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, t. xix. 46, xxxvii. 439, &c.] This was "about the year 327 before Christ," while Alexander of Macedon was busy conquering India. Beyond question, Pytheas, the first WRITING or civilized creature that ever saw Germany, gazed with his Greek eyes, and occasionally landed, striving to speak and inquire, upon those old Baltic Coasts, north border of the now Prussian Kingdom; and reported of it to mankind we know not what. Which brings home to us the fact that it existed, but almost nothing more: A Country of lakes and woods, of marshy jungles, sandy wildernesses; inhabited by bears, otters, bisons, wolves, wild swine, and certain shaggy Germans of the Suevic type, as good as inarticulate to Pytheas. After which all direct notice of it ceases for above three hundred years. We can hope only that the jungles were getting cleared a little, and the wild creatures hunted down; that the Germans were increasing in number, and becoming a thought less shaggy. These latter, tall Suevi Semnones, men of blond stern aspect (oculi truces coerulei) and great strength of bone, were known to possess a formidable talent for fighting: [Tacitus, De Moribus Germanorum, c. 45.] Drusus Germanicus, it has been guessed, did not like to appear personally among them: some "gigantic woman prophesying to him across the Elbe" that it might be dangerous, Drusus contented himself with erecting some triumphal pillar on his own safe side of the Elbe, to say that they were conquered.
In the Fourth Century of our era, when the German populations, on impulse of certain "Huns expelled from the Chinese frontier," or for other reasons valid to themselves, began flowing universally southward, to take possession of the rich Roman world, and so continued flowing for two centuries more; the old German frontiers generally, and especially those Northern Baltic countries, were left comparatively vacant; so that new immigrating populations from the East, all of Sclavic origin, easily obtained footing and supremacy there. In the Northern parts, these immigrating Sclaves were of the kind called Vandals, or Wends: they spread themselves as far west as Hamburg and the Ocean, south also far over the Elbe in some quarters; while other kinds of Sclaves were equally busy elsewhere. With what difficulty in settling the new boundaries, and what inexhaustible funds of quarrel thereon, is still visible to every one, though no Historian was there to say the least word of it. "All of Sclavic origin;" but who knows of how many kinds: Wends here in the North, through the Lausitz (Lusatia) and as far as Thuringen; not to speak of Polacks, Bohemian Czechs, Huns, Bulgars, and the other dim nomenclatures, on the Eastern frontier. Five hundred years of violent unrecorded fighting, abstruse quarrel with their new neighbors in settling the marches. Many names of towns in Germany ending in ITZ (Meuselwitz, Mollwitz), or bearing the express epithet Windisch (Wendish), still give indication of those old sad circumstances; as does the word SLAVE, in all our Western languages, meaning captured SCLAVONIAN. What long-drawn echo of bitter rage and hate lies in that small etymology!
These things were; but they have no History: why should they have any? Enough that in those Baltic regions, there are for the time (Year 600, and till long after Charlemagne is out) Sclaves in place of Suevi or of Holstein Saxons and Angli; that it is now shaggy Wends who have the task of taming the jungles, and keeping down the otters and wolves. Wends latterly in a waning condition, much beaten upon by Charlemagne and others; but never yet beaten out. And so it has to last, century after century; Wends, wolves, wild swine, all alike dumb to us. Dumb, or sounding only one huge unutterable message (seemingly of tragic import), like the voice of their old Forests, of their old Baltic Seas:—perhaps more edifying to us SO. Here at last is a definite date and event:—
"A.D. 928, Henry the Fowler, marching across the frozen bogs, took BRANNIBOR, a chief fortress of the Wends;" [Kohler, Reichs-Historie (Frankfurth und Leipzig, 1737), p. 63. Michaelis, Chur-und Furstlichen Hauser in Deutschland (Lemgo, 1759, 1760, 1785), i. 255.]—first mention in human speech of the place now called Brandenburg: Bor or "Burg of the Brenns" (if there ever was any TRIBE of Brenns,—BRENNUS, there as elsewhere, being name for KING or Leader); "Burg of the Woods," say others,—who as little know. Probably, at that time, a town of clay huts, with dit&h and palisaded sod-wall round it; certainly "a chief fortress of the Wends,"—who must have been a good deal surprised at sight of Henry on the rimy winter morning near a thousand years ago.
This is the grand old Henry, called, "the Fowler" (Heinrich der Vogler), because he was in his Vogelheerde (Falconry or Hawk-establishment, seeing his Hawks fly) in the upland Hartz Country, when messengers came to tell him that the German Nation, through its Princes and Authorities assembled at Fritzlar, had made him King; and that he would have dreadful work henceforth. Which he undertook; and also did,—this of Brannibor only one small item of it,—warring right manfully all his days against Chaos in that country, no rest for him thenceforth till he died. The beginning of German Kings; the first, or essentially the first sovereign of united Germany,—Charlemagne's posterity to the last bastard having died out, and only Anarchy, Italian and other, being now the alternative.
"A very high King," says one whose Note-books I have got, "an authentically noble human figure, visible still in clear outline in the gray dawn of Modern History. The Father of whatever good has since been in Germany. He subdued his DUKES, Schwaben, Baiern (Swabia, Bavaria) and others, who were getting too HEREDITARY, and inclined to disobedience. He managed to get back Lorraine; made TRUCE with the Hungarians, who were excessively invasive at that time. Truce with the Hungarians; and then, having gathered strength, made dreadful beating of them; two beatings,—one to each half, for the invasive Savagery had split itself, for better chance of plunder; first beating was at Sondershausen, second was at Merseburg, Year 933;—which settled them considerably. Another beating from Henry's son, and they never came back. Beat Wends, before this,—'Brannibor through frozen bogs' five years ago. Beat, Sclavic Meisseners (Misnians); Bohehemian Czechs, and took Prag; Wends again, with huge slaughter; then Danes, and made 'King Worm tributary' (King Gorm the Hard, our KNUT'S or Canute's great-grand-father, Year 931);—last of all, those invasive Hungarians as above. Had sent the Hungarians, when they demanded tribute or BLACK-MAIL of him as heretofore, Truce being now out,—a mangy hound: There is your black-mail, Sirs; make much of that!
"He had 'the image of St. Michael painted on his standard;' contrary to wont. He makes, or RE-makes, Markgrafs (Wardens of the Marches), to be under his Dukes,—and not too HEREDITARY. Who his Markgraves were? Dim History counts them to the number of six; [Kohler, Reich-Historie, p. 66. This is by no means Kohler's chief Book; but this too is good, and does, in a solid effective way, what it attempts. He seems to me by far the best Historical Genius the Germans have yet, produced, though I do not find much mention of him in their Literary Histories and Catalogues. A man of ample learning, and also of strong cheerful human sense and human honesty; whom it is thrice-pleasant, to meet with in those ghastly solitudes, populous chiefly with doleful creatures.] which take in their order:—
"1. SLESWIG, looking over into the Scandinavian countries, and the Norse Sea-kings. This Markgraviate did not last long under that title. I guess, it, became Stade-and-Ditmarsch afterwards.
"2. SOLTWEDEL,—which grows to be Markgraviate of BRANDENBURG by and by. Soltwedel, now called Salzwedel, an old Town still extant, sixty miles to west and north of Brandenburg, short way south of the Elbe, was as yet headquarters of this second Markgraf; and any Warden we have at Brandenburg is only a deputy of him or some other.
"3. MEISSEN (which we call Misnia), a country at that time still full of Wends.
"4. LAUSITZ, also a very Wendish country (called in English maps LUSATIA,—which is its name in Monk-Latin, not now a spoken language). Did not long continue a Markgraviate; fell to Meissen (Saxony), fell to Brandenburg, Bohemia, Austria, and had many tos and fros. Is now (since the Thirty-Years-War time) mostly Saxon again.
"5. AUSTRIA (OEsterreich, Eastern-Kingdom, EASTERNREY as we might say); to look after the Hungarians, and their valuable claims to black-mail.
"6. ANTWERP ('At-the-Wharf,' 'On-t'-Wharf,' so to speak), against the French; which function soon fell obsolete.
"These were Henry's six Markgraviates (as my best authority enumerates them); and in this way he had militia captains ranked all round his borders, against the intrusive Sclavic element. He fortified Towns; all Towns are to be walled and warded,—to be BURGS in fact; and the inhabitants BURGhers, or men capable of defending Burgs. Everywhere the ninth man is to serve as soldier in his Town; other eight in the country are to feed and support him: Heergeruthe (War-tackle, what is called HERIOT in our old Books) descends to the eldest son of a fighting man who had served, as with us. 'All robbers are made soldiers' (unless they prefer hanging); and WEAPON-SHOWS and drill are kept up. This is a man who will make some impression upon Anarchy, and its Wends and Huns. His standard was St. Michael, as we have seen,—WHOSE sword is derived from a very high quarter! A pious man;—founded Quedlinburg Abbey, and much else in that kind, having a pious Wife withal, Mechtildis, who took the main hand in that of Quedlinburg; whose LIFE is in Leibnitz, [Leibnitz, Scriptores Rerum Brunswicensium, &c. (Hanover, 1707), i. 196.] not the legiblest of Books.—On the whole, a right gallant King and 'Fowler.' Died, A.D. 936 (at Memmleben, a Monastery on the Unstrut, not far from Schulpforte), age sixty; had reigned only seventeen years, and done so much. Lies buried in Quedlinburg Abbey:—any Tomb? I know no LIFE of him but GUNDLING'S, which is an extremely inextricable Piece, and requires mainly to be forgotten.—Hail, brave Henry: across the Nine dim Centuries, we salute thee, still visible as a valiant Son of Cosmos and Son of Heaven, beneficently sent us; as a man who did in grim earnest 'serve God' in his day, and whose works accordingly bear fruit to our day, and to all days!"—
So far my rough Note-books; which require again to be shut for the present, not to abuse the reader's patience, or lead him from his road.
This of Markgrafs (GRAFS of the Marches, MARKED Places, or Boundaries) was a natural invention in that state of circumstances. It did not quite originate with Henry; but was much perfected by him, he first recognizing how essential it was. On all frontiers he had his GRAF (Count, REEVE, G'REEVE, whom some think to be only GRAU, Gray, or SENIOR, the hardiest, wisest steel-GRAY man he could discover) stationed on the MARCK, strenuously doing watch and ward there: the post of difficulty, of peril, and naturally of honor too, nothing of a sinecure by any means. Which post, like every other, always had a tendency to become hereditary, if the kindred did not fail in fit men. And hence have come the innumerable Markgraves, Marquises, and such like, of modern times: titles now become chimerical, and more or less mendacious, as most of our titles are,—like so many BURGS changed into "Boroughs," and even into "Rotten Boroughs," with Defensive BURGhers of the known sort: very mournful to discover. Once Norroy was not all pasteboard! At the heart of that huge whirlwind of his, with its dusty heraldries, and phantasmal nomenclatures now become mendacious, there lay, at first, always an earnest human fact. Henry the Fowler was so happy as to have the fact without any mixture of mendacity: we are in the sad reverse case; reverse case not yet altogether COMPLETE, but daily becoming so,—one of the saddest and strangest ever heard of, if we thought of it!—But to go on with business.
Markgraviates there continued to be ever after,—Six in Henry's time:—but as to the number, place, arrangement of them, all this varied according to circumstances outward and inward, chiefly according to the regress or the reintrusion of the circumambient hostile populations; and underwent many changes. The sea-wall you build, and what main floodgates you establish in it, will depend on the state of the outer sea. Markgraf of SLESWIG grows into Markgraf of DITMARSCH and STADE; retiring over the Elbe, if Norse Piracy get very triumphant. ANTWERP falls obsolete; so does MEISSEN by and by. LAUSITZ and SALZWEDEL, in the third century hence, shrink both into BRANDENBURG; which was long only a subaltern station, managed by deputy from one or other of these. A Markgraf that prospered in repelling of his Wends and Huns had evidently room to spread himself, and could become very great, and produce change in boundaries: observe what OESTERREICH (Austria) grew to, and what BRANDENBURG; MEISSEN too, which became modern Saxony, a state once greater than it now is.
In old Books are Lists of the primitive Markgraves of Brandenburg, from Henry's time downward; two sets, "Markgraves of the Witekind race," and of another: [Hubner, Genealogische Tabellen (Leipzig, 1725-1728), i. 172, 173. A Book of rare excellence in its kind.] but they are altogether uncertain, a shadowy intermittent set of Markgraves, both the Witekind set and the Non-Witekind; and truly, for a couple of centuries, seem none of them to have been other than subaltern Deputies, belonging mostly to LAUSITZ or SALZWEDEL; of whom therefore we can say nothing here, but must leave the first two hundred years in their natural gray state,—perhaps sufficiently conceivable by the reader.
But thus, at any rate, was Brandenburg (BOT or Burg of the BRENNS, whatever these are) first discovered to Christendom, and added to the firm land of articulate History: a feat worth putting on record. Done by Henry the Fowler, in the Year of Grace 928,—while (among other things noticeable in this world) our Knut's great-grandfather, GORMO DURUS, "Henry's Tributary," was still King of Denmark; when Harald BLUETOOTH (Blaatand) was still a young fellow, with his teeth of the natural color; and Swen with the Forked Beard (TVAESKAEG, Double-beard, "TWA-SHAG") was not born; and the Monks of Ely had not yet (by about a hundred years) begun that singing, (Without note or comment, in the old, BOOK OF ELY date before the Conquest) is preserved this stave;—giving picture, if we consider it, of the Fen Country all a lake (as it was for half the year, till drained, six centuries after), with Ely Monastery rising like an island in the distance; and the music of its nones or vespers sounding soft and far over the solitude, eight hundred years ago and more.
Merie sungen the Muneches binnen Ely Tha Cnut ching rew therby: Roweth enites near the lant, And here we thes Muneches saeng. Merry (genially) sang the Monks in Ely As Knut King rowed (rew) there-by: Row, fellows (knights), near the land, And hear we these Monks's song.
See Bentham's History of Ely (Cambridge, 1771), p, 94.] nor the tide that refusal to retire, on behalf of this Knut, in our English part of his dominions.
That Henry appointed due Wardenship in Brannibor was in the common course. Sure enough, some Markgraf must take charge of Brannibor,—he of the Lausitz eastward, for example, or he of Salzwedel westward:—that Brannibor, in time, will itself be found the fit place, and have its own Markgraf of Brandenburg; this, and what in the next nine centuries Brandenburg will grow to, Henry is far from surmising. Brandenburg is fairly captured across the frozen bogs, and has got a warden and ninth-man garrison settled in it: Brandenburg, like other things, will grow to what it can.
Henry's son and successor, if not himself, is reckoned to have founded the Cathedral and Bishopric of Brandenburg,—his Clergy and he always longing much for the conversion of these Wends and Huns; which indeed was, as the like still is, the one thing needful to rugged heathens of that kind.
Five hundred miles, and more, to the east of Brandenburg, lies a Country then as now called PREUSSEN (Prussia Proper), inhabited by Heathens, where also endeavors at conversion are-going on, though without success hitherto. Upon which we are now called to cast a glance.
It is a moory flat country, full of lakes and woods, like Brandenburg; spreading out into grassy expanses, and bosky wildernesses humming with bees; plenty of bog in it, but plenty also of alluvial mud; sand too, but by no means so high a ratio of it as in Brandenburg; tracts of Preussen are luxuriantly grassy, frugiferous, apt for the plough; and the soil generally is reckoned fertile, though lying so far northward. Part of the great plain or flat which stretches, sloping insensibly, continuously, in vast expanse, from the Silesian Mountains to the amber-regions of the Baltic; Preussen is the seaward, more alluvial part of this,—extending west and east, on both sides of the Weichsel (VISTULA), from the regions of the Oder river to the main stream of the Memel. BORDERING-ON-RUSSIA its name signifies: BOR-RUSSIA, B'russia, Prussia; or—some say it was only on a certain inconsiderable river in those parts, river REUSSEN, that it "bordered" and not on the great Country, or any part of it, which now in our days is conspicuously its next neighbor. Who knows?—
In Henry the Fowler's time, and long afterwards, Preussen was a vehemently Heathen country; the natives a Miscellany of rough Serbic Wends, Letts, Swedish Goths, or Dryasdust knows not what;—very probably a sprinkling of Swedish Goths, from old time, chiefly along the coasts. Dryasdust knows only that these PREUSSEN were a strong-boned, iracund herdsman-and-fisher people; highly averse to be interfered with, in their religion especially. Famous otherwise, through all the centuries, for the AMBER they had been used to fish, and sell in foreign parts.
Amber, science declares, is a kind of petrified resin, distilled by pines that were dead before the days of Adam; which is now thrown up, in stormy weather, on that remote coast, and is there fished out by the amphibious people,—who can likewise get it by running mine-shafts into the sandhills on their coast;—by whom it is sold into the uttermost parts of the Earth, Arabia and beyond, from a very early period of time. No doubt Pytheas had his eye upon this valuable product, when he ventured into survey of those regions,—which are still the great mother of amber in our world. By their amber-fishery, with the aid of dairy-produce and plenty of beef and leather, these Heathen Preussen, of uncertain miscellaneous breed, contrived to support existence in a substantial manner; they figure to us as an inarticulate, heavy-footed, rather iracund people. Their knowledge of Christianity was trifling, their aversion to knowing anything of it was great.
As Poland, and the neighbors to the south, were already Christian, and even the Bohemian Czechs were mostly Converted, pious wishes as to Preussen, we may fancy, were a constant feeling: but no effort hitherto, if efforts were made, had come to anything. Let some daring missionary go to preach in that country, his reception is of the worst, or perhaps he is met on the frontier with menaces, and forbidden to preach at all; except sorrow and lost labor, nothing has yet proved attainable. It was very dangerous to go;—and with what likelihood of speeding? Efforts, we may suppose, are rare; but the pious wish being continual and universal, efforts can never altogether cease. From Henry the Fowler's capture of Brannibor, count seventy years, we find Henry's great-grandson reigning as Elective Kaiser,—Otto III., last of the direct "Saxon Kaisers," Otto Wonder of the World;—and alongside of Otto's great transactions, which were once called MIRABILIA MUNDI and are now fallen so extinct, there is the following small transaction, a new attempt to preach in Preussen, going on, which, contrariwise, is still worth taking notice of.
About the year 997 or 996, Adalbert, Bishop of Prag, a very zealous, most devout man, but evidently of hot temper, and liable to get into quarrels, had determined, after many painful experiences of the perverse ungovernable nature of corrupt mankind, to give up his nominally Christian flock altogether; to shake the dust off his feet against Prag, and devote himself to converting those Prussian Heathen, who, across the frontiers, were living in such savagery, and express bondage to the Devil, worshipping mere stocks and stones. In this enterprise he was encouraged by the Christian potentates who lay contiguous; especially by the Duke of Poland, to whom such next-neighbors, for all reasons, were an eye-sorrow.
Adalbert went, accordingly, with staff and scrip, two monks attending him, into that dangerous country: not in fear, he; a devout high-tempered man, verging now on fifty, his hair getting gray, and face marred with innumerable troubles and provocations of past time. He preached zealously, almost fiercely,—though chiefly with his eyes and gestures, I should think, having no command of the language. At Dantzig, among the Swedish-Goth kind of Heathen, he had some success, or affluence of attendance; not elsewhere that we hear of. In the Pillau region, for example, where he next landed, an amphibious Heathen lout hit him heavily across the shoulders with the flat of his oar; sent the poor Preacher to the ground, face foremost, and suddenly ended his salutary discourse for that time. However, he pressed forward, regardless of results, preaching the Evangel to all creatures who were willing or unwilling;—and pressed at last into the Sacred Circuit, the ROMOVA, or Place of Oak-trees, and of Wooden or Stone Idols (Bangputtis, Patkullos, and I know not what diabolic dumb Blocks), which it was death to enter. The Heathen Priests, as we may conceive it, rushed out; beckoned him, with loud unintelligible bullyings and fierce gestures, to begone; hustled, shook him, shoved him, as he did not go; then took to confused striking, struck finally a death-stroke on the head of poor Adalbert: so that "he stretched out both his arms ('Jesus, receive me thou!') and fell with his face to the ground, and lay dead there,—in the form of a crucifix," say his Biographers: only the attendant monks escaping to tell.
Attendant monks, or Adalbert, had known nothing of their being on forbidden ground. Their accounts of the phenomenon accordingly leave it only half explained: How he was surprised by armed Heathen Devil's-servants in his sleep; was violently set upon, and his "beautiful bowels (pulchra viscera) were run through with seven spears:" but this of the ROMOVA, or Sacred Bangputtis Church of Oak-trees, perhaps chief ROMOVA of the Country, rashly intruded into, with consequent strokes, and fall in the form of a crucifix, appears now to be the intelligible account. [Baillet, Vies des Saints (Paris, 1739), iii. 722. Bollandus, Acta Sanetorum, Aprilis tom. iii (DIE 23; in Edition venetiis, 1738), pp. 174-205. Voigt, Geschichte Preussens (Konigsberg, 1827-1839), i. 266-270.] We will take it for the real manner of Adalbert's exit;—no doubt of the essential transaction, or that it was a very flaming one on both sides. The date given is 23d April, 997; date famous in the Romish Calendar since.
He was a Czech by birth, son of a Heathen Bohemian man of rank: his name (Adalbert, A'lbert, BRIGHT-in-Nobleness) he got "at Magdeburg, whither he had gone to study" and seek baptism; where, as generally elsewhere, his fervent devout ways were admirable to his fellow-creatures. A "man of genius," we may well say: one of Heaven's bright souls, born into the muddy darkness of this world;—laid hold of by a transcendent Message, in the due transcendent degree. He entered Prag, as Bishop, not in a carriage and six, but "walking barefoot;" his contempt for earthly shadows being always extreme. Accordingly, his quarrels with the SOECULUM were constant and endless; his wanderings up and down, and vehement arguings, in this world, to little visible effect, lasted all his days. We can perceive he was short-tempered, thin of skin: a violently sensitive man. For example, once in the Bohemian solitudes, on a summer afternoon, in one of his thousand-fold pilgrimings and wayfarings, he had lain down to rest, his one or two monks and he, in some still glade, "with a stone for his pillow" (as was always his custom even in Prag), and had fallen sound asleep. A Bohemian shepherd chanced to pass that way, warbling something on his pipe, as he wended towards looking after his flock. Seeing the sleepers on their stone pillows, the thoughtless Czech mischievously blew louder,—started Adalbert broad awake upon him; who, in the fury of the first moment, shrieked: "Deafness on thee! Man cruel to the human sense of hearing!" or words to that effect. Which curse, like the most of Adalbert's, was punctually fulfilled: the amazed Czech stood deaf as a post, and went about so all his days after; nay, for long centuries (perhaps down to the present time, in remote parts), no Czech blows into his pipe in the woodlands, without certain precautions, and preliminary fuglings of a devotional nature. [Bollandus, ubi supra.]—From which miracle, as indeed from many other indications, I infer an irritable nervous-system in poor Adalbert; and find this death in the Romova was probably a furious mixture of Earth and Heaven.
At all events, he lies there, beautiful though bloody, "in the form of a crucifix;" zealous Adalbert, the hot spirit of him now at last cold;—and has clapt his mark upon the Heathen country, protesting to the last. This was in the year 997, think the best @@@@@ Antiquaries. It happened at a place called FISCHHAUSEN, near Pillau, say they; on that, narrow strip of country which lies between the Baltic and the Frische Haf (immense Lake, WASH, as we should say, or leakage of shallow water, one of two such, which the Baltic has spilt out of it in that quarter),—near the Fort and Haven of Pillau; where there has been much stir since; where Napoleon, for one thing, had some tough fighting, prior to the Treaty of Tilsit, fifty years ago. The place—or if not this place, then Gnesen in Poland, the final burial-place of Adalbert, which is better known—has ever since had a kind of sacredness; better or worse expressed by mankind: in the form of canonization, endless pilgrimages, rumored miracles, and such like. For shortly afterwards, the neighboring Potentate, Boleslaus Duke of Poland, heart-struck at the event, drew sword on these Heathens, and having (if I remember) gained some victory, bargained to have the Body of Adalbert delivered to him at its weight in gold. Body, all cut in pieces, and nailed to poles, had long ignominiously withered in the wind; perhaps it was now only buried overnight for the nonce? Being dug up, or being cut down, and put into the balance, it weighed—less than was expected. It was as light as gossamer, said pious rumor, Had such an excellent odor too;—and came for a mere nothing of gold! This was Adalbert's first miracle after death; in life he had done many hundreds of them, and has done millions since,—chiefly upon paralytic nervous-systems, and the element of pious rumor;—which any Devil's-Advocate then extant may explain if he can! Kaiser Otto, Wonder of the World, who had known St. Adalbert in life, and much honored him, "made a pilgrimage to his tomb at Gnesen in the year 1000;"—and knelt there, we may believe, with thoughts wondrous enough, great and sad enough.
There is no hope of converting Preussen, then? It will never leave off its dire worship of Satan, then? Say not, Never; that is a weak word. St. Adalbert has stamped his life upon it, in the form of a crucifix, in lasting protest against that.
Meanwhile our first enigmatic set of Markgraves, or Deputy-Markgraves, at Brandenburg, are likewise faring ill. Whoever these valiant steel-gray gentlemen might be (which Dryasdust does not the least know, and only makes you more uncertain the more he pretends to tell), one thing is very evident, they had no peaceable possession of the place, nor for above a hundred years, a constant one on any terms. The Wends were highly disinclined to conversion and obedience: once and again, and still again, they burst up; got temporary hold of Brandenburg, hoping to keep it; and did frightful heterodoxies there. So that to our distressed imagination those poor "Markgraves of Witekind descent," our first set in Brandenburg, become altogether shadowy, intermittent, enigmatic, painfully actual as they once were. Take one instance, omitting others; which happily proves to be the finish of that first shadowy line, and introduces us to a new set very slightly more substantial.
In the year 1023, near a century after Henry the Fowler's feat, the Wends bursting up in never-imagined fury, get hold of Brandenburg again,—for the third and, one would fain hope, the last time. The reason was, words spoken by the then Markgraf of Brandenburg, Dietrich or Theodoric, last of the Witekind Markgraves; who hearing that a Cousin of his (Markgraf or Deputy-Markgraf like himself) was about wedding his daughter to "Mistevoi King of the Wends," said too earnestly: "Don't! Will you give your daughter to a dog?" Word "dog" was used, says my authority. [See Michaelis Chur und Furstlichen Hauser, i. 257-259: Pauli, Allgemeine Preussische Staats-Geschichte (Halle, 1760-1769), i. 1-182 (the "standard work" on Prussian History; in eight watery quartos, intolerable to human nature): Kloss, Vuterlandische Gemalde (Berlin, 1833), i. 59-108 (a Bookseller's compilation, with some curious Excerpts):—under which lie modern Sagittarius, ancient Adam of Bremen, Ditmarus Merseburgensis, Witichindus Corbeiensis, Arnoldus Lubecensis, &c. &c. to all lengths and breadths.] Which threw King Mistevoi into a paroxysm, and raised the Wends. Their butchery of the German population in poor Brandenburg, especially of the Priests; their burning of the Cathedral, and of Church and State generally, may be conceived. The HARLUNGSBERG,—in our time MARIENBERG, pleasant Hill near Brandenburg, with its gardens, vines, and whitened cottages:—on the top of this Harlungsherg the Wends "set up their god Triglaph;" a three-headed Monster of which I have seen prints, beyond measure ugly. Something like three whale's-cubs combined by boiling, or a triple porpoise dead-drunk (for the dull eyes are inexpressible, as well as the amorphous shape): ugliest and stupidest of all false gods. This these victorious Wends set up on the Harlungsberg, Year 1023; and worshipped after their sort, benighted mortals,—with joy, for a time. The Cathedral was in ashes, Priests all slain or fled, shadowy Markgraves the like; Church and State lay in ashes; and Triglaph, like a Triple Porpoise under the influence of laudanum, stood (I know not whether on his head or on his tail) aloft on the Harlungsberg, as the Supreme of this Universe, for the time being.
Whereupon the DITMARSCH-STADE Markgrafs (as some designate them) had to interfere, these shadowy Deputies of the Witekind breed having vanished in that manner. The Ditmarschers recovered the place; and with some fighting, did in the main at least keep Triglaph and the Wends out of it in time coming. The Wends were fiercely troublesome, and fought much; but I think they never actually got hold of Brandenburg again. They were beginning to get notions of conversion: well preached to and well beaten upon, you cannot hold out forever. Even Mistevoi at one time professed tendencies to Christianity; perhaps partly for his Bride's sake,—the dog, we may call him, in a milder sense! But he relapsed dreadfully, after that insult; and his son worse. On the other hand, Mistevoi's grandson was so zealous he went about with the Missionary Preachers, and interpreted their German into Wendish: "Oh, my poor Wends, will you hear, then, will you understand? This solid Earth is but a shadow: Heaven forever or else Hell forever, that is the reality!" SUCH "difference between right and wrong" no Wend had heard of before: quite tremendously "important if true!"—And doubtless it impressed many. There are heavy Ditmarsch strokes for the unimpressible. By degrees all got converted, though many were killed first; and, one way or other, the Wends are preparing to efface themselves as a distinct people.
This STADE-AND-DITMARSCH family (of Anglish or Saxon breed, if that is an advantage) seem generally to have furnished the SALZWEDEL Office as well, of which Brandenburg was an offshoot, done by deputy, usually also of their kin. They lasted in Brandenburg rather more than a hundred years;—with little or no Book-History that is good to read; their History inarticulate rather, and stamped beneficently on the face of things. Otto is a common name among them. One of their sisters, too, Adelheid (Adelaide, NOBLENESS) had a strange adventure with "Ludwig the Springer:" romantic mythic man, famous in the German world, over whom my readers and I must not pause at this time.
In Salzwedel, in Ditmarsch, or wherever stationed, they had a toilsome fighting life: sore difficulties with their DITMARSCHERS too, with the plundering Danish populations; Markgraf after Markgraf getting killed in the business. "ERSCHLAGEN, slain fighting with the Heathen," say the old Books, and pass on to another. Of all which there is now silence forever. So many years men fought and planned and struggled there, all forgotten now except by the gods; and silently gave away their life, before those countries could become fencible and habitable! Nay, my friend, it is our lot too: and if we would win honor in this Universe, the rumor of Histories and Morning Newspapers,—which have to become wholly zero, one day, and fall dumb as stones, and which were not perhaps very wise even while speaking,—will help us little!—
The Ditmarsch-Stade kindred, much slain in battle with the Heathen, and otherwise beaten upon, died out, about the year 1130 (earlier perhaps, perhaps later, for all is shadowy still); and were succeeded in the Salzwedel part of their function by a kindred called "of Ascanien and Ballenstadt;" the ASCANIER or ANALT Markgraves; whose History, and that of Brandenburg, becomes henceforth articulate to us; a History not doubtful or shadowy any longer; but ascertainable, if reckoned worth ascertaining. Who succeeded in Ditmarsch, let us by no means inquire. The Empire itself was in some disorder at this time, more abstruse of aspect than usual; and these Northern Markgrafs, already become important people, and deep in general politics, had their own share in the confusion that was going.
It was about this same time that a second line of Kaisers had died out: the FRANKISH or SALIC line, who had succeeded to the SAXON, of Henry the Fowler's blood. For the Empire too, though elective, had always a tendency to become hereditary, and go in lines: if the last Kaiser left a son not unfit, who so likely as the son? But he needed to be fit, otherwise it would not answer,—otherwise it might be worse for him! There were great labors in the Empire too, as well as on the Sclavic frontier of it: brave men fighting against anarchy (actually set in pitched fight against it, and not always strong enough),—toiling sore, according to their faculty, to pull the innumerable crooked things straight. Some agreed well with the Pope,—as Henry II., who founded Bamberg Bishopric, and much else of the like; [Kohler, pp. 102-104. See, for instance, Description de la Table d'Aute1 en or fin, donnee a la Cathedrale de Bale, par l'Empereur Henri II. en 1019 (Porentruy, 1838).] "a sore saint for the crown," as was said of David I., his Scotch congener, by a descendant. Others disagreed very much indeed;—Henry IV.'s scene at Canossa, with Pope Hildebrand and the pious Countess (year 1077, Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire waiting, three days, in the snow, to kiss the foot of excommunicative Hildebrand), has impressed itself on all memories! Poor Henry rallied out of that abasement, and dealt a stroke or two on Hildebrand; but fell still lower before long, his very Son going against him; and came almost to actual want of bread, had not the Bishop of Liege been good to him. Nay, after death, he lay four years waiting vainly even for burial,—but indeed cared little about that.
Certainly this Son of his, Kaiser Henry V., does not shine in filial piety: but probably the poor lad himself was hard bested. He also came to die, A.D. 1125, still little over forty, and was the last of the Frankish Kaisers. He "left the REICHS-INSIGNIEN [Crown, Sceptre and Coronation gear] to his Widow and young Friedrich of Hohenstauffen," a sister's son of his,—hoping the said Friedrich might, partly by that help, follow as Kaiser. Which Friedrich could not do; being wheedled, both the Widow and he, out of their insignia, under false pretences, and otherwise left in the lurch. Not Friedrich, but one Lothar, a stirring man who had grown potent in the Saxon countries, was elected Kaiser. In the end, after waiting till Lothar was done, Friedrich's race did succeed, and with brilliancy,—Kaiser Barbarossa being that same Friedrich's son. In regard to which dim complicacies, take this Excerpt from the imbroglio of Manuscripts, before they go into the fire:—
"By no means to be forgotten that the Widow we here speak of, Kaiser Henry V.'s Widow, who brought no heir to Henry V., was our English Henry Beauclerc's daughter,—granddaughter therefore of William Conqueror,—the same who, having (in 1127, the second year of her widowhood) married Godefroi Count of Anjou, produced our Henry II. and our Plantagenets; and thereby, through her victorious Controversies with King Stephen (that noble peer whose breeches stood him so cheap), became very celebrated as 'the Empress Maud,' in our old History-Books. Mathildis, Dowager of Kaiser Henry V., to whom he gave his Reichs-Insignia at dying: she is the 'Empress Maud' of English Books; and relates herself in this manner to the Hohenstauffen Dynasty, and intricate German vicissitudes. Be thankful for any hook whatever on which to hang half an acre of thrums in fixed position, out of your way; the smallest flint-spark, in a world all black and unrememberable, will be welcome."—
And so we return to Brandenburg and the "ASCANIEN and BALLENSTADT" series of Markgraves.
This Ascanien, happily, has nothing to do with Brute of Troy or the pious AEneas's son; it is simply the name of a most ancient Castle (etymology unknown to me, ruins still dimly traceable) on the north slope of the Hartz Mountains; short way from Aschersleben,—the Castle and Town of Aschersleben are, so to speak, a second edition of Ascanien. Ballenstadt is still older; Ballenstadt was of age in Charlemagne's time; and is still a respectable little Town in that upland range of country. The kindred, called GRAFS and ultimately HERZOGS (Dukes) of "Ascanien and Ballenstadt," are very famous in old German History, especially down from this date. Some reckon that they had intermittently been Markgrafs, in their region, long before this; which is conceivable enough: at all events it is very plain they did now attain the Office in SALZWEDEL (straightway shifting it to Brandenburg); and held it continuously, it and much else that lay adjacent, for centuries, in a highly conspicuous manner.
In Brandenburg they lasted for about two hundred years; in their Saxon dignities, the younger branch of them did not die out (and give place to the Wettins that now are) for five hundred. Nay they have still their representatives on the Earth: Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau, celebrated "Old Dessauer," come of the junior branches, is lineal head of the kin in Friedrich Wilhelm's time (while our little Fritzchen lies asleep in his cradle at Berlin); and a certain Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, Colonel in the Prussian Army, authentic PRINCE, but with purse much shorter than pedigree, will have a Daughter by and by, who will go to Russia, and become almost too conspicuous, as Catharine II., there!—
"Brandenburg now as afterwards," says one of my old Papers, "was officially reckoned SAXON; part of the big Duchy of Saxony; where certain famed BILLUNGS, lineage of an old 'Count Billung' (connected or not with BILLINGS-gate in our country, I do not know) had long borne sway. Of which big old Billungs I will say nothing at all;—this only, that they died out; and a certain Albert, 'Count of Ascanien and Ballenstadt' (say, of ANHALT, in modern terms), whose mother was one of their daughters, came in for the northern part of their inheritance. He made a clutch at the Southern too, but did not long retain that. Being a man very swift and very sharp, at once nimble and strong, in the huge scramble that there then was,—Uncle Billung dead without heirs, a SALIC line of emperors going or gone out, and a HOHENSTAUFFEN not yet come in,—he made a rich game of it for himself; the rather as Lothar, the intermediate Kaiser, was his cousin, and there were other good cards which he played well.
"This is he they call 'Albert the Bear 'Albrecht der Bar;' first of the ASCANIEN Markgraves of Brandenburg;—first wholly definite MARKGRAF OF BRANDENBURG that there is; once a very shining figure in the world, though now fallen dim enough again. It is evident he had a quick eye, as well as a strong hand; and could pick what way was straightest among crooked things. He got the Northern part of what is still called Saxony, and kept it in his family; got the Brandenburg Countries withal, got the Lausitz; was the shining figure and great man of the North in his day. The Markgrafdom of SALZWEDEL (which soon became of BRANDENBURG) he very naturally acquired (A.D. 1142 or earlier); very naturally, considering what Saxon and other honors and possessions he had already got hold of."—
We can only say, it was the luckiest of events for Brandenburg, and the beginning of all the better destinies it has had. A conspicuous Country ever since in the world, and which grows ever more so in our late times.
He had many wars; inextricable coil of claimings, quarrellings and agreeings: fought much,—fought in Italy, too, "against the Pagans" (Saracens, that is). Cousin to one Kaiser, the Lothar above named; then a chief stay of the Hohenstauffen, of the two Hohenstauffens who followed: a restless, much-managing, wide-warring man. He stood true by the great Barbarossa, second of the Hohenstauffen, greatest of all the Kaisers; which was a luck for him, and perhaps a merit. He kept well with three Kaisers in his time. Had great quarrels with "Henry the Lion" about that "Billung" Saxon Heritage; Henry carrying off the better part of it from Albert. Except that same Henry, head of the Guelphs or Welfs, who had not Albert's talent, though wider lands than Albert, there was no German prince so important in that time.
He transferred the Markgrafdom to BRANDENBURG, probably as more central in his wide lands; SALZWEDEL is henceforth the led Markgrafdom or MARCK, and soon falls out of notice in the world. Salzwedel is called henceforth ever since the "Old Marck (Alte Marck, Altmarck );" the Brandenburg countries getting the name of "New Marck." Modern NEUMARK, modern "Middle-Marck" (in which stands Brandenburg itself in our time), "UCKER-Marck" (OUTSIDE Marck,—word UCKER is still seen in UKRAINE, for instance): these are posterior Divisions, fallen upon as Brandenburg (under Albert chiefly) enlarged itself, and needed new Official parcellings into departments.
Under Albert the Markgrafdom had risen to be an ELECTORATE withal. The Markgraf of Brandenburg was now furthermore the KURFURST of Brandenburg; officially "Arch-treasurer of the Holy Roman Empire;" and one of the Seven who have a right (which became about this time an exclusive one for those Seven) to choose, to KIEREN the Romish Kaiser; and who are therefore called KUR Princes, KURFURSTE or Electors, as the highest dignity except the Kaiser's own. In reference to which abstruse matter, likely to concern us somewhat, will the uninstructed English reader consent to the following Excerpt, slightly elucidatory of KURFURSTS and their function?
"FURST (Prince) I suppose is equivalent originally to our noun of number, First. The old verb KIEREN (participle ERKOREN still in use, not to mention 'Val-KYR' and other instances) is essentially the same word as our CHOOSE, being written KIESEN as well as KIEREN. Nay, say the etymologists, it is also written KUSSEN (to KISS,—to CHOOSE with such emphasis!), and is not likely to fall obsolete in that form.—The other Six Electoral Dignitaries who grew to Eight by degrees, and may be worth noting once by the readers of this Book; are:—
"1. Three Ecclesiastical, MAINZ, COLN, TRIER (Mentz, Cologne, Treves), Archbishops all, with sovereignty and territory more or less considerable;—who used to be elected as Popes are, theoretically by their respective Chapters and the Heavenly Inspirations, but practically by the intrigues and pressures of the neighboring Potentates, especially France and Austria.
"2. Three Secular, SACHSEN, PFALZ, BOHMEN (Saxony, Palatinate, Bohemia); of which the last, BOHMEN, since it fell from being a Kingdom in itself, to being a Province of Austria, is not very vocal in the Diets. These Six, with Brandenburg, are the Seven Kurfursts in old time; SEPTEMVIRS of the Country, so to speak.
"But now PFALZ, in the Thirty-Years War (under our Prince Rupert's Father, whom the Germans call the `Winter-King'), got abrogated, put to the ban, so far as an indignant Kaiser could; and the vote and KUR of Pfalz was given to his Cousin of BAIERN (Bavaria),—so far as an indignant Kaiser could. However, at the Peace of Westphalia (1648) it was found incompetent to any Kaiser to abrogate PFULZ or the like of Pfalz, a Kurfurst of the Empire. So, after jargon inconceivable, it was settled, That PFALZ must be reinstated, though with territories much clipped, and at the bottom of the list, not the top as formerly; and that BAIERN, who could not stand to be balked after twenty years' possession, must be made EIGHTH Elector. The NINTH, we saw (Year 1692), was Gentleman Ernst of HANOVER. There never was any Tenth; and the Holy ROMISCHE REICH, which was a grand object once, but had gone about in a superannuated and plainly crazy state for some centuries back, was at last put out of pain, by Napoleon, '6th August, 1806,' and allowed to cease from this world." [Ms. penes me.]
None of Albert's wars are so comfortable to reflect on as those he had with the anarchic Wends; whom he now fairly beat to powder, and either swept away, or else damped down into Christianity and keeping of the peace. Swept them away otherwise; "peopling their lands extensively with Colonists from Holland, whom an inroad of the sea had rendered homeless there." Which surely was a useful exchange. Nothing better is known to me of Albert the Bear than this his introducing large numbers of Dutch Netherlanders into those countries; men thrown out of work, who already knew how to deal with bog and sand, by mixing and delving, and who first taught Brandenburg what greenness and cow-pasture was. The Wends, in presence of such things, could not but consent more and more to efface themselves,—either to become German, and grow milk and cheese in the Dutch manner, or to disappear from the world.
The Wendish Princes had a taste for German wives; in which just taste the Albert genealogy was extremely willing to indulge them. Affinities produce inheritances; by proper marriage-contracts you can settle on what side the most contingent inheritance shall at length fall. Dim but pretty certain lies a time coming when the Wendish Princes also shall have effaced themselves; and all shall be German-Brandenburgish, not Wendish any more.—The actual Inhabitants of Brandenburg, therefore, are either come of Dutch Bog-farmers, or are simple Lower SAXONS ("Anglo-Saxon," if you like that better), PLATT-TEUTSCH of the common type; an unexceptionable breed of people. Streaks of Wendish population, extruded gradually into the remoter quagmires, and more inaccessible, less valuable sedgy moors and sea-strands, are scattered about; Mecklenburg, which still subsists separately after a sort, is reckoned peculiarly Wendish. In Mecklenburg, Pommern, Pommerellen (Little Pomerania), are still to be seen physiognomies of a Wendish or Vandalic type (more of cheek than there ought to be, and less of brow; otherwise good enough physiognomies of their kind): but the general mass, tempered with such admixtures, is of the Platt-Deutsch, Saxon or even Anglish character we are familiar with here at home. A patient stout people; meaning considerable things, and very incapable of speaking what it means.
Albert was a fine tall figure himself; DER SCHONE, "Albert the Handsome," was his name as often as "Albert the Bear." That latter epithet he got, not from his looks or qualities, but merely from his heraldic cognizance: a Bear on his shield. As was then the mode of names; surnames being scant, and not yet fixedly in existence. Thus too his contemporaries, Henry THE LION of Saxony and Welfdom, William THE LION of Scotland, were not, either of them, specially leonine men: nor had the PLANTAGENETS, or Geoffrey of Anjou, any connection with the PLANT of BROOM, except wearing a twig of it in their caps on occasion. Men are glad to get some designation for a grand Albert they are often speaking of, which shall distinguish him from the many small ones. Albert "the Bear, DER BAR," will do as well as another.
It was this one first that made Brandenburg peaceable and notable. We might call him the second founder of Brandenburg; he, in the middle of the Twelfth Century, completed for it what Henry the Fowler had begun early in the Tenth. After two hundred and fifty years of barking and worrying, the Wends are now finally reduced to silence; their anarchy well buried, and wholesome Dutch cabbage planted over it: Albert did several great things in the world; but, this, for posterity, remains his memorable feat. Not done quite easily; but, done: big destinies of Nations or of Persons are not founded GRATIS in this world. He had a sore toilsome time of it, coercing, warring, managing among his fellow-creatures, while his day's work lasted,—fifty years or so, for it began early. He died in his Castle of Ballenstadt, peaceably among the Hartz Mountains at last, in the year 1170, age about sixty-five. It was in the time while Thomas a Becket was roving about the world, coming home excommunicative, and finally getting killed in Canterbury Cathedral;—while Abbot Samson, still a poor little brown Boy, came over from Norfolk, holding by his mother's hand, to St. Edmundsbury; having seen "SANTANAS s with outspread wings" fearfully busy in this world.
It was in those same years that a stout young fellow, Conrad by name, far off in the southern parts of Germany, set out from the old Castle of Hohenzollern, where he was but junior, and had small outlooks, upon a very great errand in the world. From Hohenzollern; bound now towards Gelnhausen, Kaiserslautern, or whatever temporary lodging the great Kaiser Barbarossa might be known to have, who was a wandering man, his business lying everywhere over half the world, and needing the master's eye. Conrad's purpose is to find Barbarossa, and seek fortune under him.
This is a very indisputable event of those same years. The exact date, the figure, circumstances of it were, most likely, never written anywhere but on Conrad's own brain, and are now rubbed out forevermore; but the event itself is certain; and of the highest concernment to this Narrative. Somewhere about the year 1170, likeliest a few years before that, [Rentsch, Brandenburgischer Ceder-Hein (Baireuth, 1682), pp. 273-276.—See also Johann Ulrich Pregitzern, Teutscher Regierungs-und Ehren-Spiegel, vorbildend &c. des Hauses Hohenzollern (Berlin, 1703), pp. 90-93. A learned and painful Book: by a Tubingen Professor, who is deeply read in the old Histories, and gives Portraits and other Engravings of some value.] this Conrad, riding down from Hohenzoliern, probably with no great stock of luggage about, him,—little dreams of being connected with Brandenburg on the other side of the world; but IS unconsciously more so than any other of the then sons of Adam. He is the lineal ancestor, twentieth in direct ascent, of the little Boy now sleeping in his cradle at Berlin; let him wait till nineteen generations, valiantly like Conrad, have done their part, and gone out, Conrad will find he is come to this! A man's destiny is strange always; and never wants for miracles, or will want, though it sometimes may for eyes to discern them.
Hohenzollern lies far south in SCHWABEN (Suabia), on the sunward slope of the Rauhe-Alp Country; no great way north from Constance and its Lake; but well aloft, near the springs of the Danube; its back leaning on the Black Forest; it is perhaps definable as the southern summit of that same huge old Hercynian Wood, which is still called the SCHWARZWALD (Black Forest), though now comparatively bare of trees. ["There are still considerable spottings of wood (pine mainly, and 'black' enough); HOLZ-HANDEL (timber-trade) still a considerable branch of business there;—and on the streams of the country are cunning contrivances noticeable, for floating down the article into the Neckar river, and thence into the Rhine and to Holland." (Tourist's Note.)] Fanciful Dryasdust, doing a little etymology, will tell you the name ZOLLERN is equivalent to TOLLERY or Place of Tolls. Whereby HOHENZOLLERN comes to mean the HIGH or Upper TOLLERY;—and gives one the notion of antique pedlers climbing painfully, out of Italy and the Swiss valleys, thus far; unstrapping their pack-horses here, and chaffering in unknown dialect about TOLL. Poor souls;—it may be so, but we do not know, nor shall it concern us. This only is known: That a human kindred, probably of some talent for coercing anarchy and guiding mankind, had, centuries ago, built its BURG there, and done that function in a small but creditable way ever since;—kindred possibly enough derivable from "Thassilo," Charlemagne, King Dagobert, and other Kings, but certainly from Adam and the Almighty Maker, who had given it those qualities;—and that Conrad, a junior member of the same, now goes forth from it in the way we see. "Why should a young fellow that has capabilities," thought Conrad, "stay at home in hungry idleness, with no estate but his javelin and buff jerkin, and no employment but his hawks, when there is a wide opulent world waiting only to be conquered?" This was Conrad's thought; and it proved to be a very just one.
It was now the flower-time of the Romish Kaisership of Germany; about the middle or noon of Barbarossa himself, second of the Hohenstauffens, and greatest of all the Kaisers of that or any other house. Kaiser fallen unintelligible to most modern readers, and wholly unknown, which is a pity. No King so furnished out with apparatus and arena, with personal faculty to rule and scene to do it in, has appeared elsewhere. A magnificent magnanimous man; holding the reins of the world, not quite in the imaginary sense; scourging anarchy down, and urging noble effort up, really on a grand Scale. A terror to evil-doers and a praise to well-doers in this world, probably beyond what was ever seen since. Whom also we salute across the centuries, as a choice Beneficence of Heaven. Encamped on the Plain of Roncaglia [when he entered Italy, as he too often had occasion to do], his shield was hung out on a high mast over his tent; and it meant in those old days, "Ho, every one that has suffered wrong; here is a Kaiser come to judge you, as he shall answer it to HIS Master." And men gathered round him; and actually found some justice,—if they could discern it when found. Which they could not always do; neither was the justice capable of being perfect always. A fearfully difficult function, that of Friedrich Redbeard. But an inexorably indispensable one in this world;—though sometimes dispensed with (to the huge joy of Anarchy, which sings Hallelujah through all its Newspapers) for a season!
Kaiser Friedrich had immense difficulties with his Popes, with his Milanese, and the like;—besieged Milan six times over, among other anarchies;—had indeed a heavy-laden hard time of it, his task being great and the greatest. He made Gebhardus, the anarchic Governor of Milan, "lie chained under his table, like a dog, for three days." For the man was in earnest, in that earnest time:—and let us say, they are but paltry sham-men who are not so, in any time; paltry, and far worse than paltry, however high their plumes may be. Of whom the sick world (Anarchy, both vocal and silent, having now swoln rather high) is everywhere getting weary.—Gebhardus, the anarchic Governor, lay three days under the Kaiser's table; as it would be well if every anarchic Governor, of the soft type and of the hard, were made to do on occasion; asking himself, in terrible earnest, "Am I a dog, then; alas, am not I a dog?" Those were serious old times.
On the other hand, Kaiser Friedrich had his Tourneys, his gleams of bright joyances now and then; one great gathering of all the chivalries at Mainz, which lasted for three weeks long, the grandest Tourney ever seen in this world. Gelnhausen, in the Wetterau (ruin still worth seeing, on its Island in the Kinzig river), is understood to have been one of his Houses; Kaiserslautern (Kaiser's LIMPID, from its clear spring-water) in the Pfalz (what we call PALATINATE), another. He went on the Crusade in his seventieth year; [1189, A.D.; Saladin having, to the universal sorrow, taken Jerusalem.] thinking to himself, "Let us end with one clear act of piety:"—he cut his way through the dangerous Greek attorneyisms, through the hungry mountain passes, furious Turk fanaticisms, like a gray old hero: "Woe is me, my son has perished, then?" said he once, tears wetting the beard now white enough; "My son is slain!—But Christ still lives; let us on, my men!" And gained great victories, and even found his son; but never returned home;—died, some unknown sudden death, "in the river Cydnus," say the most. [Kohler (p. 188), and the Authorities cited by him. Bunau's Deutsche Kaiser-und Reichs-Historie (Leipzig, 1728-1743), i., is the express Book of Barbarossa: an elaborate, instructive Volume.] Nay German Tradition thinks he is not yet dead; but only sleeping, till the bad world reach its worst, when he will reappear. He sits within the Hill near Salzburg yonder,—says German Tradition, its fancy kindled by the strange noises in that Hill (limestone Hill) from hidden waters, and by the grand rocky look of the place:—A peasant once, stumbling into the interior, saw the Kaiser in his stone cavern; Kaiser sat at a marble table, leaning on his elbow; winking, only half asleep; beard had grown through the table, and streamed out on the floor; he looked at the peasant one moment; asked him something about the time it was; then dropped his eyelids again: Not yet time, but will be soon! [Riesebeck's Travels (English Translation, London, 1787), i. 140, Busching, Volks-Sagen, &c. (Leipzig, 1820), i. 333, &c. &x.] He is winking as if to awake. To awake, and set his shield aloft by the Roncalic Fields again, with: Ho, every one that is suffering wrong;—or that has strayed guideless, devil-ward, and done wrong, which is far fataler!
This was the Kaiser to whom Conrad addressed himself; and he did it with success; which may be taken as a kind of testimonial to the worth of the young man. Details we have absolutely none: but there is no doubt that Conrad recommended himself to Kaiser Redbeard, nor any that the Kaiser was a judge of men. Very earnest to discern men's worth and capabilities; having unspeakable need of worth, instead of unworth, in those under him! We may conclude he had found capabilities in Conrad; found that the young fellow did effective services as the occasion rose, and knew how to work, in a swift, resolute, judicious and exact manner. Promotion was not likely on other terms; still less, high promotion.
One thing farther is known, significant for his successes: Conrad found favor with "the Heiress of the Vohburg Family," desirable young heiress, and got her to wife. The Vohburg Family, now much forgotten everywhere, and never heard of in England before, had long been of supreme importance, of immense possessions, and opulent in territories, and we need not add, in honors and offices, in those Franconian Nurnberg regions; and was now gone to this one girl. I know not that she had much inheritance after all; the vast Vohburg properties lapsing all to the Kaiser, when the male heirs were out. But she had pretensions, tacit claims; in particular, the Vohburgs had long been habitual or in effect hereditary Burggrafs of Nurnberg; and if Conrad had the talent for that office; he now, in preference to others, might have a chance for it. Sure enough, he got it; took root in it, he and his; and, in the course of centuries, branched up from it, high and wide, over the adjoining countries; waxing towards still higher destinies. That is the epitome of Conrad's history; history now become very great, but then no bigger than its neighbors, and very meagrely recorded; of which the reflective reader is to make what he can.
There is nothing clearly known of Conrad more than these three facts: That he was a cadet of Hohenzollern (whose father's name, and some forefathers' names are definitely known in the family archives, but do not concern us); that he married the Heiress of the Vohburgs, whose history is on record in like manner; and that he was appointed Burggraf of Nurnberg, year not precisely known,—but before 1170, as would seem. "In a REICHSTAG (Diet of the Empire) held at Regensburg in or about 1170," he formally complains, he and certain others, all stanch Kaiser's friends (for in fact it was with the Kaiser's knowledge, or at his instigation), of Henry the Lion's high procedures and malpractices; of Henry's League with the Pope, League with the King of Denmark, and so forth; the said Henry having indeed fallen into opposition, to a dangerous degree;—and signs himself BURGGRAF OF NURNBERG, say the old Chronicles. [Rentsch, p. 276 (who cites Aventinus, Trittheim, &c.).] The old Document itself has long since perished, I conclude: but the Chronicles may be accepted as reporters of so conspicuous a thing; which was the beginning of long strife in Germany, and proved the ruin of Henry the Lion, supreme Welf grown over-big,—and cost our English Henry II., whose daughter he had married, a world of trouble and expense, we may remark withal. Conrad therefore is already Burggraf of Nurnberg, and a man of mark, in 1170: and his marriage, still more his first sally from the paternal Castle to seek his fortune, must all be dated earlier.
More is not known of Conrad: except indeed that he did not perish in Barbarossa's grand final Crusade. For the antiquaries have again found him signed to some contract, or otherwise insignificant document, A.D. 1200. Which is proof positive that he did not die in the Crusade; and proof probable that he was not of it,—few, hardly any, of those stalwart 150,000 champions of the Cross having ever got home again. Conrad, by this time, might have sons come to age; fitter for arms and fatigues than he: and indeed at Nurnberg, in Deutschland generally, as Official Prince of the Empire, and man of weight and judgment, Conrad's services might be still more useful, and the Kaiser's interests might require him rather to stay at home in that juncture. Burggraf of Nurnberg he continued to be; he and his descendants, first in a selective, then at length in a directly hereditary way, century after century; and so long as that office lasted in Nurnberg (which it did there much longer than in other Imperial Free-Cities), a COMES DE ZOLRE of Conrad's producing was always the man thenceforth.
Their acts, in that station and capacity, as Burggraves and Princes of the Empire, were once conspicuous enough in German History; and indeed are only so dim now, because the History itself is, and was always, dim to us on this side of the sea. They did strenuous work in their day; and occasionally towered up (though little driven by the poor wish of "towering," or "shining" without need) into the high places of Public History. They rest now from their labors, Conrad and his successors, in long series, in the old Monastery of Heilsbronn (between Nurnberg and Anspach), with Tombs to many of them, which were very legible for slight Biographic purposes in my poor friend Rentsch's time, a hundred and fifty years ago; and may perhaps still have some quasi-use, as "sepulchral brasses," to another class of persons. One or two of those old buried Figures, more peculiarly important for our little Friend now sleeping in his cradle yonder, we must endeavor, as the Narrative proceeds, to resuscitate a little and render visible for moments.
As to the Office, it was more important than perhaps the reader imagines. We already saw Conrad first Burggraf, among the magnates of the country, denouncing Henry the Lion. Every Burggraf of Nurnberg is, in virtue of his office, "Prince of the Empire:" if a man happened to have talent of his own, and solid resources of his own (which are always on the growing hand with this family), here is a basis from which he may go far enough. Burggraf of Nurnberg: that means again GRAF (judge, defender, manager, G'REEVE) of the Kaiser's BURG or Castle,—in a word Kaiser's Representative and ALTER EGO,—in the old Imperial Free-Town of Nurnberg; with much adjacent very complex territory, also, to administer for the Kaiser. A flourishing extensive City, this old Nurnberg, with valuable adjacent territory, civic and imperial, intricately intermixed; full of commercial industries, opulences, not without democratic tendencies. Nay it is almost, in some senses, the LONDON AND MIDDLESEX of the Germany that then was, if we will consider it!
This is a place to give a man chances, and try what stuff is in him. The office involves a talent for governing, as well as for judging; talent for fighting also, in cases of extremity, and what is still better, a talent for avoiding to fight. None but a man of competent superior parts can do that function; I suppose, no imbecile could have existed many months in it, in the old earnest times. Conrad and his succeeding Hohenzollerns proved very capable to do it, as would seem; and grew and spread in it, waxing bigger and bigger, from their first planting there by Kaiser Barbarossa, a successful judge of men. And ever since that time, from "about the year 1170," down to the year 1815,—when so much was changed, owing to another (temporary) "Kaiser" of new type, Napoleon his name,—the Hohenzollerns have had a footing in Frankenland; and done sovereignty in and round Nurnberg, with an enlarging Territory in that region. Territory at last of large compass; which, under the names MARGRAFDOM OF ANSPACH, and of BAIREUTH, or in general MARGRAFDOM OF CULMBACH, which includes both, has become familiar in History.
For the House went on steadily increasing, as it were, from the first day; the Hohenzollerns being always of a growing, gaining nature;—as men are that live conformably to the laws of this Universe, and of their place therein; which, as will appear from good study of their old records, though idle rumor, grounded on no study, sometimes says the contrary, these Hohenzollerns eminently were. A thrifty, steadfast, diligent, clear-sighted, stout-hearted line of men; of loyal nature withal, and even to be called just and pious, sometimes to a notable degree. Men not given to fighting, where it could be avoided; yet with a good swift stroke in them, where it could not: princely people after their sort, with a high, not an ostentatious turn of mind. They, for most part, go upon solid prudence; if possible, are anxious to reach the goal without treading on any one; are peaceable, as I often say, and by no means quarrelsome, in aspect and demeanor; yet there is generally in the Hohenzollerns a very fierce flash of anger, capable of blazing out in cases of urgency: this latter also is one of the most constant features I have noted in the long series of them. That they grew in Frankenland, year after year, and century after century, while it was their fortune to last, alive and active there, is no miracle, on such terms.
Their old big Castle of Plassenburg (now a Penitentiary, with treadmill and the other furnishings) still stands on its Height, near Culmbach, looking down over the pleasant meeting of the Red and White Mayn Rivers and of their fruitful valleys; awakening many thoughts in the traveller. Anspach Schloss, and still more Baireuth Schloss (Mansion, one day, of our little Wilhelmina of Berlin, Fritzkin's sister, now prattling there in so old a way; where notabilities have been, one and another; which Jean Paul, too, saw daily in his walks, while alive and looking skyward): these, and many other castles and things, belonging now wholly to Bavaria, will continue memorable for Hohenzollern history.
The Family did its due share, sometimes an excessive one, in religious beneficences and foundations; which was not quite left off in recent times, though much altering its figure. Erlangen University, for example, was of Wilhelmina's doing. Erlangen University;—and also an Opera-House of excessive size in Baireuth. Such was poor Wilhelmina's sad figure of "religion." In the old days, their largest bequest that I recollect was to the TEUTSCHE RITTER, Order of Teutonic Knights, very celebrated in those days. Junior branches from Hohenzollern, as from other families, sought a career in that chivalrous devout Brotherhood now and then; one pious Burggraf had three sons at once in it; he, a very bequeathing Herr otherwise, settled one of his mansions, Virnsperg, with rents and incomings, on the Order. Which accordingly had thenceforth a COMTHUREI (Commandery) in that country; Comthurei of Virnsperg the name of it: the date of donation is A.D. 1294; and two of the old Herr's three RITTER sons, we can remark, were successively COMTHURS (Commanders, steward-prefects) of Virnsperg, the first two it had. [Rentsch, p.288.]
This was in 1294; the palmy period, or culmination time of the TEUTSCHES RITTERTHUM. Concerning which, on wider accounts, we must now say a word.
Barbarossa's Army of Crusaders did not come home again, any more than Barbarossa. They were stronger than Turk or Saracen, but not than Hunger and Disease; Leaders did not know then, as our little Friend at Berlin came to know, that "an Army, like a serpent, goes upon its belly." After fine fighting and considerable victories, the end of this Crusade was, it took to "besieging Acre," and in reality lay perishing as of murrain on the beach at Acre, without shelter, without medicine, without food. Not even Richard Coeur-de-Lion, and his best prowess and help, could avert such issue from it.
Richard's Crusade fell in with the fag-end of Barbarossa's; and it was Richard chiefly that managed to take Acre;—at least so Richard flattered himself, when he pulled poor Leopold of Austria's standard from the towers, and trailed it through the gutters: "Your standard? YOU have taken Acre?" Which turned out ill for Richard afterwards. And Duke Leopold has a bad name among us in consequence; much worse than he deserves. Leopold had stuff in him too. He died, for example, in this manner: falling with his horse, I think in some siege or other, he had got his leg hurt; which hindered him in fighting. Leg could not be cured: "Cut it off, then!" said Leopold. This also the leech could not do; durst not, and would not; so that Leopold was come quite to a halt. Leopold ordered out two squires; put his thigh upon a block the sharp edge of an axe at the right point across his thigh: "Squire first, hold you that axe; steady! Squire second, smite you on it with forge-hammer, with all your strength, heavy enough!" Squire second struck, heavy enough, and the leg flew off; but Leopold took inflammation, died in a day or two, as the leech had predicted. That is a fact to be found in current authors (quite exact or not quite), that surgical operation: [Mentzel, Geschichte der Deutschen (Stuttgard and Tubingen, 1837), p. 309.] such a man cannot have his flag trailed through the gutters by any Coeur-de-Lion.—But we return to the beach at Acre, and the poor Crusaders, dying as of murrain there. It is the year 1190, Acre not yet taken, nor these quarrels got to a height.
"The very Templars, Hospitallers, neglect us," murmured the dying Germans; "they have perhaps enough to do, and more than enough, with their own countrymen, whose speech is intelligible to them? For us, it would appear, there is no help!" Not altogether none. A company of pious souls—compassionate Lubeck ship-captains diligently forwarding it, and one Walpot von Bassenheim, a citizen of Bremen, taking the lead—formed themselves into a union for succor of the sick and dying; "set up canvas tents," medicinal assuagements, from the Lubeck ship-stores; and did what utmost was in them, silently in the name of Mercy and Heaven. "This Walpot as not by birth a nobleman," says one of the old Chroniclers, "but his deeds were noble." This pious little union proved unconsciously the beginning of a great thing. Finding its work prosper here, and gain favor, the little union took vows on itself, strict chivalry forms, and decided to become permanent. "Knights Hospitallers of our dear Lady of Mount Zion," that or something equivalent was their first title, under Walpot their first Grand-Master; which soon grew to be "German Order of St. Mary" (TEUTSCHE RITTER of the MARIE-ORDEN), or for shortness TEUTSCHES RITTERTHUM; under which name it played a great part in the world for above three centuries to come, and eclipsed in importance both the Templars and Hospitallers of St. John.
This was the era of Chivalry Orders, and GELUBDE; time for Bodies of Men uniting themselves by a Sacred Vow, "GELUBDE"—which word and thing have passed over to us in a singularly dwindled condition: "CLUB" we now call it; and the vow, if sacred, does not aim very high! Templars and Hospitallers were already famous bodies; the latter now almost a century old. Walpot's new GELUBDE was of similar intent, only German in kind,—the protection, defence and solacement of Pilgrims, with whatever that might involve.
The Teutsch Ritters earned character in Palestine, and began to get bequests and recognition; but did not long continue there, like their two rival Orders. It was not in Palestine, whether the Orders might be aware of it or not, that their work could now lie. Pious Pilgrims certainly there still are in great numbers; to these you shall do the sacred rites: but these, under a Saladin bound by his word, need little protection by the sword. And as for Crusading in the armed fashion, that has fallen visibly into the decline. After Barbarossa, Coeur-de-Lion and Philippe Auguste have tried it with such failure, what wise man will be in haste to try it again? Zealous Popes continue to stir up Crusades; but the Secular Powers are not in earnest as formerly; Secular Powers, when they do go, "take Constantinople," "conquer Sicily," never take or conquer anything in Palestine. The Teutsch Order helps valiantly in Palestine, or would help; but what is the use of helping? The Teutsch Order has already possessions in Europe, by pious bequest and otherwise; all its main interests lie there; in fine, after less than thirty years, Hermann von der Salza, a new sagacious TEUTSCHMEISTER or HOCHMEISTER (so they call the head of the Order), fourth in the series, a far-seeing, negotiating man, finds that Venice will be a fitter place of lodging for him than Acre: and accordingly during his long Mastership (A.D. 1210-1239), he is mostly to be found there, and not at Acre or Jerusalem.
He is very great with the busy Kaiser, Friedrich II., Barbarossa's grandson; who has the usual quarrels with the Pope, and is glad of such a negotiator, statesman as well as armed monk. The usual quarrels this great Kaiser had, all along, and some unusual. Normans ousted from Sicily, who used to be so Papal: a Kaiser NOT gone on the Crusade, as he had vowed; Kaiser at last suspected of freethinking even:—in which matters Hermann much serves the Kaiser. Sometimes he is appointed arbiter between the Pope and Kaiser;—does not give it in the Kaiser's favor, but against him, where he thinks the Kaiser is wrong. He is reckoned the first great Hochmeister, this Hermann von der Salza, a Thuringer by birth, who is fourth in the series of Masters: perhaps the greatest to be found there at all, though many were considerable. It is evident that no man of his time was busier in important public affairs, or with better acceptance, than Hermann. His Order, both Pope and Emperor so favoring the Master of it, was in a vigorous state of growth all this while; Hermann well proving that he could help it better at Venice than at Acre.
But if the Crusades are ended,—as indeed it turned out, only one other worth speaking of, St. Louis's, having in earnest come to effect, or rather to miserable non-effect, and that not yet for fifty years;—if the Crusades are ended, and the Teutsch Order increases always in possessions, and finds less and less work, what probably will become of the Teutsch Order? Grow fat, become luxurious, incredulous, dissolute, insolent; and need to be burnt out of the way? That was the course of the Templars, and their sad end. They began poorest of the poor, "two Knights to one Horse," as their Seal bore; and they at last took FIRE on very opposite accounts. "To carouse like a Templar:" that had become a proverb among men; that was the way to produce combustion, "spontaneous" or other! Whereas their fellow Hospitallers of St. John, chancing upon new work (Anti-Turk garrison-duty, so we may call it, successively in Cyprus, Rhodes, Malta, for a series of ages), and doing it well, managed to escape the like. As did the Teutsch Order in a still more conspicuous manner.
Ever since St. Adalbert fell massacred in Prussia, stamping himself as a Crucifix on that Heathen soil, there have been attempts at conversion going on by the Christian neighbors, Dukes of Poland and others: intermittent fits of fighting and preaching for the last two hundred years, with extremely small result. Body of St. Adalbert was got at light weight, and the poor man canonized; there is even a Titular Bishop of Prussia; and pilgrimages wander to the Shrine of Adalbert in Poland, reminding you of Prussia in a tragic manner; but what avails it? Missionaries, when they set foot in the country, are killed or flung out again. The Bishop of Prussia is titular merely; lives in Liefland (LIVONIA) properly Bishop of RIGA, among the Bremen trading-settlers and converted Lieflanders there, which is the only safe place,—if even that were safe without aid of armed men, such as he has there even now. He keeps his SCHWERTBRUDER (Brothers of the Sword), a small Order of Knights, recently got up by him, for express behoof of Liefland itself; and these, fighting their best, are sometimes troublesome to the Bishop, and do not much prosper upon Heathendom, or gain popularity and resources in the Christian world. No hope in the SCHWERTBRUDER for Prussia;—and in massacred Missionaries what hope? The Prussian population continues Heathen, untamable to Gospel and Law; and after two centuries of effort, little or no real progress has been made.
But now, in these circumstances, in the year 1226, the Titular Bishop of Prussia, having well considered the matter and arranged it with the Polish Authorities, opens a communication with Hermann von der Salza, at Venice, on the subject; "Crusading is over in the East, illustrious Hochmeister; no duty for a Teutsch Order there at present: what is the use of crusading far off in the East, when Heathenism and the Kingdom of Satan hangs on our own borders, close at hand, in the North? Let the Teutsch Order come to Preussen; head a Crusade there. The land is fruitful; flows really with milk and honey, not to speak of amber, and was once called the TERRESTRIAL PARADISE"—by I forget whom. [Voigt, (if he had an Index!) knows.] In fact, it is clear, the land should belong to Christ; and if the Christian Teutsch Ritterdom could conquer it from Satanas for themselves, it would be well for all parties. Hermann, a man of sagacious clear head, listens attentively. The notion is perhaps not quite new to him: at all events, he takes up the notion; negotiates upon it, with Titular Bishop, with Pope, Kaiser, Duke of Poland, Teutsch Order; and in brief, about two years afterwards (A.D. 1228), having done the negotiatings to the last item, he produces his actual Teutsch Ritters, ready, on Prussian ground.
Year 1225, thinks Dryasdust, after a struggle. Place where, proves also at length discoverable in Dryasdust,—not too far across the north Polish frontier, always with "Masovia" (the now Warsaw region) to fall back upon. But in what number; how; nay almost when, to a year,—do not ask poor Dryasdust, who overwhelms himself with idle details, and by reason of the trees is unable to see the wood. [Voigt, ii. 177, 184, 192.]—The Teutsch Ritters straightway build a Burg for headquarters, spread themselves on this hand and that; and begin their great task. In the name of Heaven, we may still say in a true sense; as they, every Ritter of them to the heart, felt it to be in all manner of senses.
The Prussians were a fierce fighting people, fanatically Anti-Christian: the Teutsch Ritters had a perilous never-resting time of it, especially for the first fifty years. They built and burnt innumerable stockades for and against; built wooden Forts which are now stone Towns. They fought much and prevalently; galloped desperately to and fro, ever on the alert. In peaceabler ulterior times, they fenced in the Nogat and the Weichsel with dams, whereby unlimited quagmire might become grassy meadow,—as it continues to this day. Marienburg (MARY'S Burg), still a town of importance in that same grassy region, with its grand stone Schloss still visible and even habitable; this was at length their Headquarter. But how many Burgs of wood and stone they built, in different parts; what revolts, surprisals, furious fights in woody boggy places, they had, no man has counted. Their life, read in Dryasdust's newest chaotic Books (which are of endless length, among other ill qualities), is like a dim nightmare of unintelligible marching and fighting: one feels as if the mere amount of galloping they had would have carried the Order several times round the Globe. What multiple of the Equator was it, then, O Dryasdust? The Herr Professor, little studious of abridgment, does not say.
But always some preaching, by zealous monks, accompanied the chivalrous fighting. And colonists came in from Germany; trickling in, or at times streaming. Victorious Ritterdom offers terms to the beaten Heathen; terms not of tolerant nature, but which will be punctually kept by Ritterdom. When the flame of revolt or general conspiracy burnt up again too extensively, there was a new Crusade proclaimed in Germany and Christendom; and the Hochmeister, at Marburg or elsewhere, and all his marshals and ministers were busy,—generally with effect. High personages came on crusade to them. Ottocar King of Bohemia, Duke of Austria and much else, the great man of his day, came once (A.D. 1255); Johann King of Bohemia, in the next century, once and again. The mighty Ottocar, [Voigt, iii. 80-87.] with his extensive far-shining chivalry, "conquered Samland in a month;" tore up the Romova where Adalbert had been massacred, and burnt it from the face of the Earth. A certain Fortress was founded at that time, in Ottocar's presence; and in honor of him they named it KING'S FORTRESS, "Konigsberg:" it is now grown a big-domed metropolitan City,—where we of this Narrative lately saw a Coronation going on, and Sophie Charlotte furtively taking a pinch of snuff. Among King Ottocar's esquires or subaltern junior officials on this occasion, is one RUDOLF, heir of a poor Swiss Lordship and gray Hill-Castle, called HAPSBURG, rather in reduced circumstances, whom Ottocar likes for his prudent hardy ways; a stout, modest, wise young man,—who may chance to redeem Hapsburg a little, if he live? How the shuttles fly, and the life-threads, always, in this "loud-roaring Loom of Time!"—
Along with Ottocar too, as an ally in the Crusade, was Otto III. Ascanier Markgraf and Elector of Brandenburg, great-grandson of Albert the Bear;—name Otto THE PIOUS in consequence. He too founded a Town in Prussia, on this occasion, and called it BRANDENBURG; which is still extant there, a small Brandenburg the Second; for these procedures he is called Otto THE PIOUS in History. His Wife, withal, was a sister of Ottocar's; [Michaelis, i. 270; Hubner, t. 174.]—which, except in the way of domestic felicity, did not in the end amount to much for him; this Ottocar having flown too high, and melted his wings at the sun, in a sad way, as we shall see elsewhere.
None of the Orders rose so high as the Teutonic in favor with mankind. It had by degrees landed possessions far and wide over Germany and beyond: I know not how many dozens of BALLEYS (rich Bailliwicks, each again with its dozens of COMTHUREIS, Commanderies, or subordinate groups of estates), and Baillies and Commanders to match;—and was thought to deserve favor from above. Valiant servants, these; to whom Heaven had vouchsafed great labors and unspeakable blessings. In some fifty or fifty-three years they had got Prussian Heathenism brought to the ground; and they endeavored to tie it well down there by bargain and arrangement. But it would not yet lie quiet, nor for a century to come; being still secretly Heathen; revolting, conspiring ever again, ever on weaker terms, till the Satanic element had burnt itself out, and conversion and composure could ensue.
Conversion and complete conquest once come, there was a happy time for Prussia: ploughshare instead of sword; busy sea-havens, German towns, getting built; churches everywhere rising; grass growing, and peaceable cows, where formerly had been quagmire and snakes. And for the Order a happy time? A rich, not a happy. The Order was victorious; Livonian "Sword-Brothers," "Knights of Dobryn," minor Orders and Authorities all round, were long since subordinated to it or incorporated with it; Livonia, Courland, Lithuania, are all got tamed under its influence, or tied down and evidently tamable. But it was in these times that the Order got into its wider troubles outward and inward; quarrels, jealousies, with Christian neighbors, Poland, Pommern, who did not love it and for cause;—wider troubles, and by no means so evidently useful to mankind. The Order's wages, in this world, flowed higher than ever, only perhaps its work was beginning to run low! But we will not anticipate.
On the whole, this Teutsch Ritterdom, for the first century and more, was a grand phenomenon; and flamed like a bright blessed beacon through the night of things, in those Northern Countries. For above a century, we perceive, it was the rallying place of all brave men who had a career to seek on terms other than vulgar. The noble soul, aiming beyond money, and sensible to more than hunger in this world, had a beacon burning (as we say), if the night chanced to overtake it, and the earth to grow too intricate, as is not uncommon. Better than the career of stump-oratory, I should fancy, and ITS Hesperides Apples, golden and of gilt horse-dung. Better than puddling away one's poor spiritual gift of God (LOAN, not gift), such as it may be, in building the lofty rhyme, the lofty Review-Article, for a discerning public that has sixpence to spare! Times alter greatly.—Will the reader take a glimpse of Conrad von Thuringen's biography, as a sample of the old ways of proceeding? Conrad succeeded Hermann von der Salza as Grand-Master, and his history is memorable as a Teutonic Knight.
Conrad, younger brother of the Landgraf of Thuringen,—which Prince lived chiefly in the Wartburg, romantic old Hill-Castle, now a Weimar-Eisenach property and show-place, then an abode of very earnest people,—was probably a child-in-arms, in that same Wartburg, while Richard Coeur-de-Lion was getting home from Palestine and into troubles by the road: this will date Conrad for us. His worthy elder brother was Husband of the lady since called SAINT Elizabeth, a very pious but also very fanciful young woman;—and I always guess his going on the Crusade, where he died straightway, was partly the fruit of the life she led him; lodging beggars, sometimes in his very bed, continually breaking his night's rest for prayer, and devotional exercise of undue length; "weeping one moment, then smiling in joy the next;" meandering about, capricious, melodious, weak, at the will of devout whim mainly! However, that does not concern us. [Many LIVES of the Saint. See, in particular, Libellus de Dictis Quatuor Ancillarum, &c.—(that is, Report of the evidence got from Elizabeth's Four Maids, by an Official Person, Devil's-Advocate or whatever he was, missioned by the Pope to question them, when her Canonization came to be talked of. A curious piece):—in Meuckenii Scriptores Rexum Germanicarum (Lipsia, 1728-1730), ii. dd.; where also are other details.] Sure enough her poor Landgraf went crusading, Year 1227 (Kaiser Friedrich II.'s Crusade, who could not put it off longer); poor Landgraf fell ill by the road, at Brindisi, and died,—not to be driven farther by any cause.
Conrad, left guardian to his deceased Brother's children, had at first much quarrel with Saint Elizabeth, though he afterwards took far other thoughts. Meanwhile he had his own apanage, "Landgraf" by rank he too; and had troubles enough with that of itself. For instance: once the Archbishop of an Mainz, being in debt, laid a heavy tax on all Abbeys under him; on Reichartsbronn, an Abbey of Conrad's, among others. "Don't pay it!" said Conrad to the Abbot. Abbot refused accordingly; but was put under ban by the Pope;—obliged to comply, and even to be "whipt thrice" before the money could be accepted. Two whippings at Erfurt, from the Archbishop, there had been; and a third was just going on there, one morning, when Conrad, travelling that way, accidentally stept in to matins. Conrad flames into a blazing whirlwind at the phenomenon disclosed. "Whip my Abbot? And he IS to pay, then,—Archbishop of Beelzebub?"—and took the poor Archbishop by the rochets, and spun him hither and thither; nay was for cutting him in two, had hot friends hysterically busied themselves, and got the sword detained in its scabbard and the Archbishop away. Here is a fine coil like to be, for Conrad.
Another soon follows; from a quarrel he had with Fritzlar, Imperial Free-Town in those parts, perhaps a little stiff upon its privileges, and high towards a Landgraf. Conrad marches, one morning (Year 1232) upon insolent Fritzlar; burns the environs; but on looking practically at the ramparts of the place, thinks they are too high, and turns to go home again. Whereupon the idle women of Fritzlar, who are upon the ramparts gazing in fear and hope, burst into shrill universal jubilation of voice,—and even into gestures, and liberties with their dress, which are not describable in History! Conrad, suddenly once more all flame, whirls round; storms the ramparts, slays what he meets, plunders Fritzlar with a will, and leaves it blazing in a general fire, which had broken out in the business. Here is a pair of coils for Conrad; the like of which can issue only in Papal ban or worse.
Conrad is grim and obstinate under these aspects; but secretly feels himself very wicked; knows not well what will come of it. Sauntering one day in his outer courts, he notices a certain female beggar; necessitous female of loose life, who tremulously solicits charity of him. Necessitous female gets some fraction of coin, but along with it bullying rebuke in very liberal measure; and goes away weeping bitterly, and murmuring about "want that drove me to those courses." Conrad retires into himself: "What is her real sin, perhaps, to mine?" Conrad "lies awake all that night;" mopes about, in intricate darkness, days and nights; rises one morning an altered man. He makes "pilgrimage to Gladbach," barefoot; kneels down at the church-door of Fritzlar with bare back, and a bundle of rods beside him. "Whip me, good injured Christians for the love of Jesus!"—in brief, reconciles himself to Christian mankind, the Pope included; takes the Teutsch-Ritter vows upon him; [A.D. 1234 (Voigt, ii. 375-423).] and hastens off to Preussen, there to spend himself, life and life's resources thenceforth, faithfully, till he die. The one course left for Conrad. Which he follows with a great strong step,—with a thought still audible to me. It was of such stuff that Teutsch Ritters were then made; Ritters evidently capable of something.
Saint Elizabeth, who went to live at Marburg, in Hessen-Cassel, after her Husband's death, and soon died there, in a most melodiously pious sort, [A.D. 1231, age 24.] made the Teutsch Order guardian of her Son. It was from her and the Grand-Mastership of Conrad that Marburg became such a metropolis of the Order; the Grand-Masters often residing there, many of them coveting burial there, and much business bearing date of the place. A place still notable to the ingenuous Tourist, who knows his whereabout. Philip the Magnanimous, Luther's friend, memorable to some as Philip with the Two Wives, lived there, in that old Castle,—which is now a kind of Correction-House and Garrison, idle blue uniforms strolling about, and unlovely physiognomies with a jingle of iron at their ankles,—where Luther has debated with the Zwinglian Sacramenters and others, and much has happened in its time. Saint Elizabeth and her miracles (considerable, surely, of their kind) were the first origin of Marburg as a Town: a mere Castle, with adjoining Hamlet, before that.
Strange gray old silent Town, rich in so many memories; it stands there, straggling up its rocky hill-edge, towards its old Castles and edifices on the top, in a not unpicturesque manner; flanked by the river Lahn and its fertile plains: very silent, except for the delirious screech, at rare intervals, of a railway train passing that way from Frankfurt-on-Mayn to Cassel. "Church of St. Elizabeth,"—high, grand Church, built by Conrad our Hochmeister, in reverence of his once terrestrial Sister-in-law,—stands conspicuous in the plain below, where the Town is just ending. St. Elizabeth's Shrine was once there, and pilgrims wending to it from all lands. Conrad himself is buried there, as are many Hochmeisters; their names, and shields of arms, Hermann's foremost, though Hermann's dust is not there, are carved, carefully kept legible, on the shafts of the Gothic arches,—from floor to groin, long rows of them;—and produce, with the other tombs, tomb-paintings by Durer and the like, thoughts impressive almost to pain. St. Elizabeth's LOCULUS was put into its shrine here, by Kaiser Friedrich II. and all manner of princes and grandees of the Empire, "one million two hundred thousand people looking on," say the old records, perhaps not quite exact in their arithmetic. Philip the Magnanimous, wishing to stop "pilgrimages no-whither," buried the LOCULUS away, it was never known where; under the floor of that Church somewhere, as is likeliest. Enough now of Marburg, and of its Teutsch Ritters too.
They had one or two memorable Hochmeisters and Teutschmeisters; whom we have not named here, nor shall. [In our excellent Kohler's Muntzbelustigungen (Nurnberg, 1729 et seqq. ii. 382; v. 102; viii. 380; &c.) are valuable glimpses into the Teutonic Order,—as into hundreds of other things. The special Book upon it is Voigt's, often cited here: Nine heavy Volumes; grounded on faithful reading, but with a fatal defect of almost every other quality.] There is one Hochmeister, somewhere about the fiftieth on the list, and properly the last real Hochmeister, Albert of Hohenzollern-Culmbach by name, who will be very memorable to us by and by.
Or will the reader care to know how Culmbach came into the possession of the Hohenzollerns, Burggraves of Nurnberg? The story may be illustrative, and will not occupy us long.
In the Year 1248, in his Castle of Plassenburg,—which is now a Correction-House, looking down upon the junction of the Red and White Mayn,—Otto Duke of Meran, a very great potentate, more like a King than a Duke, was suddenly clutched hold of by a certain wedded gentleman, name not given, "one of his domestics or dependents," whom he had enraged beyond forgiveness (signally violating the Seventh Commandment at his expense); and was by the said wedded gentleman there and then cut down, and done to death. "Lamentably killed, jammerlich erstochen," says old Rentsch. [P. 293. Kohler, Reichs-Historie, p. 245. Holle, Alte Geschichte der Stadt Baireuth (Baireuth, 1833), pp. 34-37.] Others give a different color to the homicide, and even a different place; a controversy not interesting to us. Slain at any rate he is; still a young man; the last male of his line. Whereby the renowned Dukes of Meran fall extinct, and immense properties come to be divided among connections and claimants.
Meran, we remark, is still a Town, old Castle now abolished, in the Tyrol, towards the sources of the Etsch (called ADIGE by Italian neighbors). The Merans had been lords not only of most of the Tyrol; but Dukes of "the Voigtland;"—Voigtland, that is BAILLIE-LAND, wide country between Nurnberg and the Fichtelwald; why specially so called, Dryasdust dimly explains, deducing it from certain Counts von Reuss, those strange Reusses who always call themselves HENRY, and now amount to HENRY THE EIGHTIETH AND ODD, with side-branches likewise called Henry; whose nomenclature is the despair of mankind, and worse than that of the Naples Lazzaroni who candidly have no names!—Dukes of Voigtland, I say; likewise of Dalmatia; then also Markgraves of Austria; also Counts of Andechs, in which latter fine country (north of Munchen a day's ride), and not at Plassenburg, some say, the man was slain. These immense possessions, which now (A.D. 1248) all fall asunder by the stroke of that sword, come to be divided among the slain man's connections, or to be snatched up by active neighbors, and otherwise disposed of.
Active Wurzburg, active Bamberg, without much connection, snatched up a good deal: Count of Orlamunde, married to the eldest Sister of the slain Duke, got Plassenburg and most of the Voigtland: a Tyrolese magnate, whose Wife was an Aunt of the Duke's, laid hold of the Tyrol, and transmitted it to daughters and their spouses,—the finish of which line we shall see by and by:—in short, there was much property in a disposable condition. The Hohenzollern Burggraf of Nurnberg, who had married a younger Sister of the Duke's two years before this accident, managed to get at least BAIREUTH and some adjacencies; big Orlamunde, who had not much better right, taking the lion's share. This of Baireuth proved a notable possession to the Hohenzollern family: it was Conrad the first Burggraf's great-grandson, Friedrich, counted "Friedrich III." among the Burggraves, who made the acquisition in this manner, A.D. 1248.
Onolzbach (On'z-BACH or "-brook," now called ANSPACH) they got, some fourscore years after, by purchase and hard money down ("24,000 pounds of farthings," whatever that may be), [A.D. 1331: Stadt Anspach, by J. B. Fischer (Anspach, 1786), p. 196.] which proved a notable twin possession of the family. And then, in some seven years more (A.D. 1338), the big Orlamunde people, having at length, as was too usual, fallen considerably insolvent, sold Plassenburg Castle itself, the Plassenburg with its Town of Culmbach and dependencies, to the Hohenzollern Burggraves, [Rentsch, p. 157.] who had always ready money about them. Who in this way got most of the Voigtland, with a fine Fortress, into hand; and had, independently of Nurnberg and its Imperial properties, an important Princely Territory of their own. Margraviate or Principality of CULMBACH (Plassenburg being only the Castle) was the general title; but more frequently in later times, being oftenest split in two between brothers unacquainted with primogeniture, there were two Margraviates made of it: one of Baireuth, called also "Margraviate On the Hill;" and one of Anspach, "Margraviate Under the Hill:" of which, in their modern designations, we shall by and by hear more than enough.
Thus are the Hohenzollern growing, and never declining: by these few instances judge of many. Of their hard labors, and the storms they had to keep under control, we could also say something: How the two young Sons of the Burggraf once riding out with their Tutor, a big hound of theirs in one of the streets of Nurnberg accidentally tore a child; and there arose wild mother's-wail; and "all the Scythe-smiths turned out," fire-breathing, deaf to a poor Tutor's pleadings and explainings; and how the Tutor, who had ridden forth in calm humor with two Princes, came galloping home with only one,—the Smiths having driven another into boggy ground, and there caught and killed him; [Rentsch, p. 306 (Date not given; guess, about 1270).] with the Burggraf's commentary on that sad proceeding (the same Friedrich III. who had married Meran's Sister); and the amends exacted by him, strict and severe, not passionate or inhuman. Or again how the Nurnbergers once, in the Burggraf's absence, built a ring-wall round his Castle; entrance and exit now to depend on the Nurnbergers withal! And how the Burggraf did not fly out into battle in consequence, but remedied it by imperturbable countenance and power of driving. With enough of the like sort; which readers can conceive.
This same Friedrich III., Great-grandson of Conrad the first Burggraf, was he that got the Burggraviate made hereditary in his family (A.D. 1273); which thereby rose to the fixed rank of Princes, among other advantages it was gaining. Nor did this acquisition come gratis at all, but as the fruit of good service adroitly done; service of endless importance as it proved. Friedrich's life had fallen in times of huge anarchy; the Hohenstauffen line gone miserably out,—Boy Conradin, its last representative, perishing on the scaffold even (by a desperate Pope and a desperate Duke of Anjou); [At Naples, 25th October, 1268.] Germans, Sicilian Normans, Pope and Reich, all at daggers-drawn with one another; no Kaiser, nay as many as Three at once! Which lasted from 1254 onwards; and is called "the Interregnum," or Anarchy "of Nineteen Years," in German History.
Let us at least name the Three Kaisers, or Triple-elixir of No-Kaiser; though, except as chronological landmarks, we have not much to do with them. First Kaiser is William Count of Holland, a rough fellow, Pope's protege, Pope even raising cash for him; till William perished in the Dutch peat-bogs (horse and man, furiously pursuing, in some fight there, and getting swallowed up in that manner); which happily reduces our false Kaisers to two: Second and Third, who are both foreign to Germany.
Second Kaiser is Alphonso King of Castille, Alphonso the Wise, whose saying about Ptolemy's Astronomy, "That it seemed a crank machine; that it was pity the Creator had not taken advice!" is still remembered by mankind;—this and no other of his many sayings and doings. He was wise enough to stay at home; and except wearing the title, which cost nothing, to concern himself very little about the Holy Roman Empire,—some clerk or two dating "TOLETI (at Toledo)," did languidly a bit of official writing now and then, and that was all. Confused crank machine this of the German Empire too, your Majesty? Better stay at home, and date "TOLETI."
The Third false Kaiser—futile call him rather, wanting clear majority—was the English Richard of Cornwall; younger Son of John Lackland; and little wiser than his Father, to judge by those symptoms. He had plenty of money, and was liberal with it;—no other call to Germany, you would say, except to get rid of his money;—in which he succeeded. He lived actually in Germany, twice over for a year or two:—Alphonse and he were alike shy of the Pope, as Umpire; and Richard, so far as his money went, found some gleams of authority and comfortable flattery in the Rhenish provinces: at length, in 1263, money and patience being both probably out, he quitted Germany for the second and last time; came home to Berkhamstead in Hertfordshire here, [Gough's Camden, i.339.] more fool than he went. Till his death (A.D. 1271), he continued to call himself, and was by many persons called, Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire;—needed a German clerk or two at Berkhamstead, we can suppose: but never went back; preferring pleasant Berkhamstead, with troubles of Simon de Montfort or whatever troubles there might be, to anything Germany had to offer him.
These were the Three futile Kaisers: and the LATE Kaiser Conrad's young Boy, who one day might have swept the ground clear of them, perished,—bright young Conradin, bright and brave, but only sixteen, and Pope's captive by ill luck,—perished on the scaffold; "throwing out his glove" (in symbolical protest) amid the dark mute Neapolitan multitudes, that wintry morning. It was October 25th, 1268,—Dante Alighieri then a little boy at Florence, not three years old; gazing with strange eyes as the elders talked of such a performance by Christ's Vicar on Earth. A very tragic performance indeed, which brought on the Sicilian Vespers by and by; for the Heavens never fail to pay debts, your Holiness!—
Germany was rocking down towards one saw not what,—an Anarchic Republic of Princes, perhaps, and of Free Barons fast verging towards robbery? Sovereignty of multiplex Princes, with a Peerage of intermediate Robber Barons? Things are verging that way. Such Princes, big and little, each wrenching off for himself what lay loosest and handiest to him, found it a stirring game, and not so much amiss. On the other hand, some voice of the People, in feeble whimperings of a strange intensity, to the opposite effect, are audible to this day. Here are Three old Minstrels (MINNESANGER) picked from Manesse's Collection by an obliging hand, who are of this date, and shall speak each a word:—
No. 1 LOQUITOR (in cramp doggerel, done into speech): "To thee, O Lord, we poor folk make moan; the Devil has sown his seeds in this land! Law thy hand created for protection of thy children: but where now is Law? Widows and orphans weep that the Princes do not unite to have a Kaiser."
No. 2: "The Princes grind in the Kaiser's mill: to the Reich they fling the siftings; and keep to themselves the meal. Not much in haste, they, to give us a Kaiser."
No. 3: "Like the Plague of Frogs, there they are come out; defiling the Reich's honor. Stork, when wilt thou appear, then," and with thy stiff mandibles act upon them a little? [Mentzel, Geschichte der Deutschen, p. 345.]
It was in such circumstances, that Friedrich III., Burggraf of Nurnberg, who had long moaned and striven over these woes of his country, came to pay that visit, late in the night (1st or 2d of October, 1273), to his Cousin Rudolf Lord of Hapsburg, under the walls of Basel; a notable scene in History. Rudolf was besieging Basel, being in some feud with the Bishop there, of which Friedrich and another had been proposed as umpires; and Friedrich now waited on his Cousin, in this hasty manner,—not about the Basel feud, but on a far higher quite unexpected errand,—to say, That he Rudolf was elected Kaiser, and that better times for the Holy Roman Empire were now probable, with Heaven's help. [Rentsch, pp. 299, 285, 298.] We call him Cousin; though what the kindred actually was, a kindred by mothers, remains, except the general fact of it, disputable by Dryasdust. The actual visit, under the walls of Basel, is by some considered romantic. But that Rudolf, tough steel-gray man, besieging Basel on his own quarrel, on the terms just stated, was altogether unexpectedly apprised of this great news, and that Cousin Friedrich of Nurnberg had mainly contributed to such issue, is beyond question. [Kohler, pp. 249, 251.] The event was salutary, like life instead of death, to anarchic Germany; and did eminent honor to Friedrich's judgment in men.
Richard of Cornwall having at last died, and his futile German clerks having quitted Berkhamstead forever,—Alphonso of Castille, not now urged by rivalry, and seeing long since what a crank machine the thing was, had no objection to give it up; said so to the Pope,—who was himself anxious for a settled Kaiser, the supplies of Papal German cash having run almost dry during these troubles. Whereupon ensued earnest consultations among leading German men; Diet of the Empire, sternly practical (we may well perceive), and with a minimum of talk, the Pope too being held rather well at a distance: the result of which was what we see. [29th September, 1273.] Mainly due to Friedrich of Nurnberg, say all Historians; conjoining with him the then Archbishop of Mainz, who is officially President Elector (literally CONVENER of Electors): they two did it. Archbishop of Mainz had himself a pleasant accidental acquaintance with Rudolf,—a night's lodging once at Hapsburg, with escort over the Hills, in dangerous circumstances;—and might the more readily be made to understand what qualities the man now had; and how, in justness of insight, toughness of character, and general strength of bridle-hand, this actually might be the adequate man.
Last time we saw Rudolf, near thirty years ago, he was some equerry or subaltern dignitary among the Ritters of King Ottocar, doing a Crusade against the Prussian Heathen, and seeing his master found Konigsberg in that country. Changed times now! Ottocar King of Bohemia, who (by the strong hand mainly, and money to Richard of Cornwall, in the late troubles) has become Duke of Austria and much else, had himself expected the Kaisership; and of all astonished men, King Ottocar was probably the most astonished at the choice made. A dread sovereign, fierce, and terribly opulent, and every way resplendent to such degree; and this threadbare Swiss gentleman-at-arms, once "my domestic" (as Ottocar loved to term it), preferred to me! Flat insanity, King Ottocar thought; refused to acknowledge such a Kaiser; would not in the least give up his unjust properties, or even do homage for them or the others.
But there also Rudolf contrived to be ready for him. Rudolf invaded his rich Austrian territories; smote down Vienna, and all resistance that there was; [1276 (Kohler, p. 253).] forced Ottocar to beg pardon and peace. "No pardon, nor any speech of peace, till you first do homage for all those lands of yours, whatever we may find them to be!" Ottocar was very loath; but could not help himself. Ottocar quitted Prag with a resplendent retinue, to come into the Danube country, and do homage to "my domestic" that once was. He bargained that the sad ceremony should be at least private; on an Island in the Danube, between the two retinues or armies; and in a tent, so that only official select persons might see it. The Island is called CAMBERG (near Vienna, I conclude), in the middle of the Donau River: there Ottocar accordingly knelt; he in great pomp of tailorage, Rudolf in mere buff jerkin, practical leather and iron;—hide it, charitable canvas, from all but a few! Alas, precisely at this moment, the treacherous canvas rushes down,—hung so on purpose, thinks Ottocar; and it is a tent indeed; but a tent without walls; and all the world sees me in this scandalous plight!
Ottocar rode home in deep gloom; his poor Wife, too, upbraided him: he straightway rallied into War again; Rudolf again very ready to meet him. Rudolf met him, Friedrich of Nurnberg there among the rest under the Reichs-Banner; on the Marchfeld by the Donau (modern WAGRAM near by); and entirely beat and even slew and ruined Ottocar. [26th August, 1278 (Kohler, p. 253.)] Whereby Austria fell now to Rudolf, who made his sons Dukes of it; which, or even Archdukes, they are to this day. Bohemia, Moravia, of these also Rudolf would have been glad; but of these there is an heir of Ottocar's left; these will require time and luck.
Prosperous though toilsome days for Rudolf; who proved an excellent bit of stuff for a Kaiser; and found no rest, proving what stuff he was. In which prosperities, as indeed he continued to do in the perils and toils, Burggraf Friedrich III. of Nurnberg naturally partook: hence, and not gratis at all, the Hereditary Burggrafdom, and many other favors and accessions he got. For he continued Rudolf's steady helper, friend and first-man in all things, to the very end. Evidently one of the most important men in Germany, and candor will lead us to guess one of the worthiest, during those bad years of Interregnum, and the better ones of Kaisership. After Conrad his great-grandfather he is the second notable architect of the Family House;—founded by Conrad; conspicuously built up by this Friedrich III., and the first STORY of it finished, so to speak. Then come two Friedrichs as Burggrafs, his son and his grandson's grandson, "Friedrich IV." and "Friedrich VI.," by whom it was raised to the second story and the third,—thenceforth one of the high houses of the world.
That is the glimpse we can give of Friedrich first Hereditary Burggraf, and of his Cousin Rudolf first Hapsburg Kaiser. The latest Austrian Kaisers, the latest Kings of Prussia, they are sons of these two men.
We have said nothing of the Ascanier Markgraves, Electors of Brandenburg, all this while; nor, in these limits, can we now or henceforth say almost anything. A proud enough, valiant and diligent line of Markgraves; who had much fighting and other struggle in the world,—steadily enlarging their border upon the Wends to the north; and adjusting it, with mixed success, against the WETTIN gentlemen, who are Markgraves farther east (in the LAUSITZ now), who bound us to the south too (MEISSEN, Misnia), and who in fact came in for the whole of modern Saxony in the end. Much fighting, too, there was with the Archbishops of Magdeburg, now that the Wends are down: standing quarrel there, on the small scale, like that of Kaiser and Pope on the great; such quarrel as is to be seen in all places, and on all manner of scales, in that era of the Christian World.
None of our Markgraves rose to the height of their Progenitor, Albert the Bear; nor indeed, except massed up, as "Albert's Line," and with a History ever more condensing itself almost to the form of LABEL, can they pretend to memorability with us. What can Dryasdust himself do with them? That wholesome Dutch cabbages continued to be more and more planted, and peat-mire, blending itself with waste sand, became available for Christian mankind,—intrusive Chaos, and especially Divine TRIGLAPH and his ferocities being well held aloof:—this, after all, is the real History of our Markgraves; and of this, by the nature of the case, Dryasdust can say nothing. "New Mark," which once meant Brandenburg at large, is getting subdivided into Mid-Mark, into UCKERmark (closest to the Wends); and in Old Mark and New much is spreading, much getting planted and founded. In the course of centuries there will grow gradually to be "seven cities; and as many towns," says one old jubilant Topographer, "as there are days in the year,"—struggling to count up 365 of them.
In the year (guessed to be) 1240, one Ascanier Markgraf "fortifies Berlin;" that is, first makes Berlin a German BURG and inhabited outpost in those parts:—the very name, some think, means "Little Rampart" (WEHRlin), built there, on the banks of the Spree, against the Wends, and peopled with Dutch; of which latter fact, it seems, the old dialect of the place yields traces. [Nicolai, Beschreibung der Koniglichen Residenzstadte Berlin und Potsdam (Berlin, 1786), i. pp. 16, 17 of "Einleitung." Nicolai rejects the WEHRLIN etymology; admits that the name was evidently appellative, not proper, "The Berlin," "To the Berlin;" finds in the world two objects, one of them at Halle, still called "The Berlin;" and thinks it must have meant (in some language of extinct mortals) "Wild Pasture-ground,"—"The SCRUBS," as we should call it.—Possible; perhaps likely.] How it rose afterwards to be chosen for Metropolis, one cannot say, except that it had a central situation for the now widened principalities of Brandenburg: the place otherwise is sandy by nature, sand and swamp the constituents of it; and stands on a sluggish river the color of oil. Wendish fishermen had founded some first nucleus of it long before; and called their fishing-hamlet COLN, which is said to be the general Wendish title for places FOUNDED ON PILES, a needful method where your basis is swamp. At all events, "Coln" still designates the oldest quarter in Berlin; and "Coln on the Spree" (Cologne, or Coln on the Rhine, being very different) continued, almost to modern times, to be the Official name of the Capital.
How the Dutch and Wends agreed together, within their rampart, inclusive of both, is not said. The river lay between; they had two languages; peace was necessary: it is probable they were long rather on a taciturn footing! But in the oily river you do catch various fish; Coln, amid its quagmires and straggling sluggish waters, can be rendered very strong. Some husbandry, wet or dry, is possible to diligent Dutchmen. There is room for trade also; Spree Havel Elbe is a direct water-road to Hamburg and the Ocean; by the Oder, which is not very far, you communicate with the Baltic on this hand, and with Poland and the uttermost parts of Silesia on that. Enough, Berlin grows; becomes, in about 300 years, for one reason and another, Capital City of the country, of these many countries. The Markgraves or Electors, after quitting Brandenburg, did not come immediately to Berlin; their next Residence was Tangermunde (MOUTH of the TANGER, where little Tanger issues into Elbe); a much grassier place than Berlin, and which stands on a Hill, clay-and-sand Hill, likewise advantageous for strength. That Berlin should have grown, after it once became Capital, is not a mystery. It has quadrupled itself, and more, within the last hundred years, and I think doubled itself within the last thirty.
One Ascanier Markgraf, and one only, Otto IV. by title, was a Poet withal; had an actual habit of doing verse. There are certain so-called Poems of his, still extant, read by Dryasdust, with such enthusiasm as he can get up, in the old Collection of Minne-singers, made by MANESSE the Zurich Burgermeister, while the matter was much fresher than it now is. [Rudiger von Manesse, who fought the Austrians, too, made his Sammlung (Collection) in the latter half of the fourteenth century; it was printed, after many narrow risks of destruction in the interim, in 1758,—Bodmer and Breitinger editing;—at Zurich, 2 vols. 4to.] Madrigals all; MINNE-Songs, describing the passion of love; how Otto felt under it,—well and also ill; with little peculiarity of symptom, as appears. One of his lines is,
"Ich wunsch ich were tot, I wish that I were dead:"
—the others shall remain safe in Manesse's Collection.
This same Markgraf Otto IV., Year 1278, had a dreadful quarrel with the See of Magdeburg, about electing a Brother of his. The Chapter had chosen another than Otto's Brother; Otto makes war upon the Chapter. Comes storming along; "will stable my horses in your Cathedral," on such and such a day! But the Archbishop chosen, who had been a fighter formerly, stirs up the Magdeburgers, by preaching ("Horses to be stabled here, my Christian brethren"), by relics, and quasi-miracles, to a furious condition; leads them out against Otto, beats Otto utterly; brings him in captive, amid hooting jubilations of the conceivable kind: "Stable ready; but where are the horses,—Serene child of Satanas!" Archbishop makes a Wooden Cage for Otto (big beams, spars stout enough, mere straw to lie on), and locks him up there. In a public situation in the City of Magdeburg;—visible to mankind so, during certain months of that year 1278. It was in the very time while Ottocar was getting finished in the Marchfeld; much mutiny still abroad, and the new Kaiser Rudolf very busy.
Otto's Wife, all streaming in tears, and flaming in zeal, what shall she do? "Sell your jewels," so advises a certain old Johann von Buch, discarded Ex-official: "Sell your jewels, Madam; bribe the Canons of Magdeburg with extreme secrecy, none knowing of his neighbor; they will consent to ransom on terms possible. Poor Wife bribed as was bidden; Canons voted as they undertook; unanimous for ransom,—high, but humanly possible. Markgraf Otto gets out on parole. But now, How raise such a ransom, our very jewels being sold? Old Johann von Buch again indicates ways and means,—miraculous old gentleman:—Markgraf Otto returns, money in hand; pays, and is solemnly discharged. The title of the sum I could give exact; but as none will in the least tell me what the value is, I humbly forbear.
"We are clear, then, at this date?" said Markgraf Otto from his horse, just taking leave of the Magdeburg Canonry. "Yes," answered they.—"Pshaw, you don't know the value of a Markgraf!" said Otto. "What is it, then?"—"Rain gold ducats on his war-horse and him," said Otto, looking up with a satirical grin, "till horse and Markgraf are buried in them, and you cannot see the point of his spear atop!"—That would be a cone of gold coins equal to the article, thinks our Markgraf; and rides grinning away. [Michaelis, i. 271; Pauli, i. 316; Kloss; &c.]—The poor Archbishop, a valiant pious man, finding out that late strangely unanimous vote of his Chapter for ransoming the Markgraf, took it so ill, that he soon died of a broken heart, say the old Books. Die he did, before long;—and still Otto's Brother was refused as successor. Brother, however, again survived; behaved always wisely; and Otto at last had his way. "Makes an excellent Archbishop, after all!" said the Magdeburgers. Those were rare times, Mr. Rigmarole.
The same Otto, besieging some stronghold of his Magdeburg or other enemies, got an arrow shot into the skull of him; into, not through; which no surgery could extract, not for a year to come. Otto went about, sieging much the same, with the iron in his head; and is called Otto MIT DEM PFOILE, Otto SAGITTARIUS, or Otto with the Arrow, in consequence. A Markgraf who writes Madrigals; who does sieges with an arrow in his head; who lies in a wooden cage, jeered by the Magdeburgers, and proposes such a cone of ducats: I thought him the memorablest of those forgotten Markgraves; and that his jolting Life-pilgrimage might stand as the general sample. Multiply a year of Otto by 200, you have, on easy conditions, some imagination of a History of the Ascanier Markgraves. Forgettable otherwise; or it can be read in the gross, darkened with endless details, and thrice-dreary, half-intelligible traditions, in Pauli's fatal Quartos, and elsewhere, if any one needs.—The year of that Magdeburg speech about the cone of ducats is 1278: King Edward the First, in this country, was walking about, a prosperous man of forty, with very LONG SHANKS, and also with a head of good length.
Otto, as had been the case in the former Line, was a frequent name among those Markgraves: "Otto the Pious" (whom we saw crusading once in Preussen, with King Ottocar his Brother-in-law), "Otto the Tall," "Otto the Short (PARVUS);" I know not how many Ottos besides him "with the Arrow." Half a century after this one of the ARROW (under his Grand-Nephew it was), the Ascanier Markgraves ended, their Line also dying out.
Not the successfulest of Markgraves, especially in later times. Brandenburg was indeed steadily an Electorate, its Markgraf a KURFURST, or Elector of the Empire; and always rather on the increase than otherwise. But the Territories were apt to be much split up to younger sons; two or more Markgraves at once, the eldest for Elector, with other arrangements; which seldom answer. They had also fallen into the habit of borrowing money; pawning, redeeming, a good deal, with Teutsch Ritters and others. Then they puddled considerably,—and to their loss, seldom choosing the side that proved winner,—in the general broils of the Reich, which at that time, as we have seen, was unusually anarchic. None of the successfulest of Markgraves latterly. But they were regretted beyond measure in comparison with the next set that came; as we shall see.
Brandenburg and the Hohenzollern Family of Nurnberg have hitherto no mutual acquaintanceship whatever: they go, each its own course, wide enough apart in the world;—little dreaming that they are to meet by and by, and coalesce, wed for better and worse, and become one flesh. As is the way in all romance. "Marriages," among men, and other entities of importance, "are, evidently, made in Heaven."
Friedrich IV. of Nurnberg, Son of that Friedrich III., Kaiser Rudolf's successful friend, was again a notable increaser of his House; which finally, under his Great-grandson, named Friedrich VI., attained the Electoral height. Of which there was already some hint. Well; under the first of these two Friedrichs, some slight approximation, and under his Son, a transient express introduction (so to speak) of Brandenburg to Hohenzollern took place, without immediate result of consequence; but under the second of them occurred the wedding, as we may call it, or union "for better or worse, till death do us part."—How it came about? Easy to ask, How! The reader will have to cast some glances into the confused REICHS-History of the time;—timid glances, for the element is of dangerous, extensive sort, mostly jungle and shaking bog;—and we must travel through this corner of it, as on shoes of swiftness, treading lightly.
The Line of Rudolf of Hapsburg did not at once succeed continuously to the Empire, as the wont had been in such cases, where the sons were willing and of good likelihood. After such a spell of anarchy, parties still ran higher than usual in the Holy Roman Empire; and wide-yawning splits would not yet coalesce to the old pitch. It appears too the posterity of Rudolf, stiff, inarticulate, proud men, and of a turn for engrossing and amassing, were not always lovely to the public. Albert, Rudolf's eldest son, for instance, Kaiser Albert I.,—who did succeed, though not at once, or till after killing Rudolf's immediate successor, [Adolf of Nassau; slain by Albert's own hand; "Battle" of Hasenbuhel "near Worms, 2d July, 1298" (Kohler, p. 265).]—Albert was by no means a prepossessing man, though a tough and hungry one. It must be owned, he had a harsh ugly character; and face to match: big-nosed, loose-lipped, blind of an eye: not Kaiser-like at all to an Electoral Body. "Est homo monoculus, et vultu rustico; non potest esse Imperator (A one-eyed fellow, and looks like a clown; he cannot be Emperor)!" said Pope Boniface VIII., when consulted about him. [Kohler, pp. 267-273; and Muntzbelustigungen, xix. 156-160.]
Enough, from the death of Rudolf, A.D. 1291, there intervened a hundred and fifty years, and eight successive Kaisers singly or in line, only one of whom (this same Albert of the unlovely countenance) was a Hapsburger,—before the Family, often trying it all along, could get a third time into the Imperial saddle. Where, after that, it did sit steady. Once in for the third time, the Hapsburgers got themselves "elected" (as they still called it) time after time; always elected,—with but one poor exception, which will much concern my readers by and by,—to the very end of the matter. And saw the Holy Roman Empire itself expire, and as it were both saddle and horse vanish out of Nature, before they would dismount. Nay they still ride there on the shadow of a saddle, so to speak; and are "Kaisers of AUSTRIA" at this hour. Steady enough of seat at last, after many vain trials!
For during those hundred and fifty years,—among those six intercalary Kaisers, too, who followed Albert,—they were always trying; always thinking they had a kind of quasi right to it; whereby the Empire often fell into trouble at Election-time. For they were proud stout men, our Hapsburgers, though of taciturn unconciliatory ways; and Rudolf had so fitted them out with fruitful Austrian Dukedoms, which they much increased by marriages and otherwise,—Styria, Carinthia, the Tyrol, by degrees, not to speak of their native HAPSBURG much enlarged, and claims on Switzerland all round it,—they had excellent means of battling for their pretensions and disputable elections. None of them succeeded, however, for a hundred and fifty years, except that same one-eyed, loose-lipped unbeautiful Albert I.; a Kaiser dreadfully fond of earthly goods, too. Who indeed grasped all round him, at property half his, or wholly not his: Rhine-tolls, Crown of Bohemia, Landgraviate of Thuringen, Swiss Forest Cantons, Crown of Hungary, Crown of France even:—getting endless quarrels on his hands, and much defeat mixed with any victory there was. Poor soul, he had six-and-twenty children by one wife; and felt that there was need of apanages! He is understood (guessed, not proved) to have instigated two assassinations in pursuit of these objects; and he very clearly underwent ONE in his own person. Assassination first was of Dietzman the Thuringian Landgraf, an Anti-Albert champion, who refused to be robbed by Albert,—for whom the great Dante is (with almost palpable absurdity) fabled to have written an Epitaph still legible in the Church at Leipzig. [Menckenii Scriptores, i.?? Fredericus Admorsus (by Tentsel).] Assassination second was of Wenzel, the poor young Bohemian King, Ottocar's Grandson and last heir. Sure enough, this important young gentleman "was murdered by some one at Olmutz next year" (1306, a promising event for Albert then), "but none yet knows who it was." [Kohler, p. 270.]
Neither of which suspicious transactions came to any result for Albert; as indeed most of his unjust graspings proved failures. He at one time had thoughts of the Crown of France; "Yours I solemnly declare!" said the Pope. But that came to nothing;—only to France's shifting of the Popes to Avignon, more under the thumb of France. What his ultimate success with Tell and the Forest Cantons was, we all know! A most clutching, strong-fisted, dreadfully hungry, tough and unbeautiful man. Whom his own Nephew, at last, had to assassinate, at the Ford of the Reus (near Windisch Village, meeting of the Reus and Aar; 1st May, 1308): "Scandalous Jew pawnbroker of an Uncle, wilt thou flatly keep from me my Father's heritage, then, intrusted to thee in his hour of death? Regardless of God and man, and of the last look of a dying Brother? Uncle worse than pawnbroker; for it is a heritage with NO pawn on it, with much the reverse!" thought the Nephew,—and stabbed said Uncle down dead; having gone across with him in the boat; attendants looking on in distraction from the other side of the river. Was called Johannes PARRICIDA in consequence; fled out of human sight that day, he and his henchmen, never to turn up again till Doomsday. For the pursuit was transcendent, regardless of expense; the cry for legal vengeance very great (on the part of Albert's daughters chiefly), though in vain, or nearly so, in this world. [Kohler, p. 272. Hormayr, OEsterreichischer Plutarch, oder Leben und Bild nisse, &c. (12 Bandchen; Wien, 1807,—a superior Book), i. 65.]
Of the other six Kaisers not Hapsburgers we are bound to mention one, and dwell a little on his fortunes and those of the family he founded; both Brandenburg and our Hohenzollerns coming to be much connected therewith, as time went on. This is Albert's next successor, Henry Count of Luxemburg; called among Kaisers Henry VII. He is founder, he alone among these Non-Hapsburgers, of a small intercalary LINE of Kaisers, "the Luxemburg Line;" who amount indeed only to Four, himself included; and are not otherwise of much memorability, if we except himself; though straggling about like well-rooted briers, in that favorable ground, they have accidentally hooked themselves upon World-History in one or two points. By accident a somewhat noteworthy line, those Luxemburg Kaisers:—a celebrated place, too, or name of a place, that "LUXEMBOURG" of theirs, with its French Marshals, grand Parisian Edifices, lending it new lustre: what, thinks the reader, is the meaning of Luzzenburg, Luxemburg, Luxembourg? Merely LUTZELburg, wrong pronounced; and that again is nothing but LITTLEborough: such is the luck of names!—
Heinrich Graf von Luxemburg was, after some pause on the parricide of Albert, chosen Kaiser, "on account of his renowned valor," say the old Books,—and also, add the shrewder of them, because his Brother, Archbishop of Trier, was one of the Electors, and the Pope did not like either the Austrian or the French candidate then in the field. Chosen, at all events, he was, 27th November, 1308; [Kohler, p. 274.] clearly, and by much, the best Kaiser that could be had. A puissant soul, who might have done great things, had he lived. He settled feuds; cut off oppressions from the REICHSTADTE (Free Towns); had a will of just sort, and found or made a way for it. Bohemia lapsed to him, the old race of Kings having perished out,—the last of them far too suddenly "at Olmutz," as we saw lately! Some opposition there was, but much more favor especially by the Bohemian People; and the point, after some small "Siege of Prag" and the like, was definitely carried by the Kaiser. The now Burggraf of Nurnberg, Friedrich IV., son of Rudolf's friend, was present at this Siege of Prag; [1310 (Rentsch, p. 311).] a Burggraf much attached to Kaiser Henry, as all good Germans were. But the Kaiser did not live.
He went to Italy, our Burggraf of Nurnberg and many more along with him, to pull the crooked Guelf-Ghibelline Facts and Avignon Pope a little straight, if possible; and was vigorously doing it, when he died on a sudden; "poisoned in sacramental wine," say the Germans! One of the crowning summits of human scoundrelism, which painfully stick in the mind. It is certain he arrived well at Buonconvento near Sienna, on the 24th September, 1313, in full march towards the rebellious King of Naples, whom the Pope much countenanced. At Buonconvento, Kaiser Henry wished to enjoy the communion; and a Dominican monk, whose dark rat-eyed look men afterwards bethought them of, administered it to him in both species (Council of Trent not yet quite prohibiting the liquid species, least of all to Kaisers, who are by theory a kind of "Deacons to the Pope," or something else [Voltaire, Essai sur les Moeurs, c. 67,?? Henri VII. OEuvres, xxi. 184).]);—administered it in both species: that is certain, and also that on the morrow Henry was dead. The Dominicans endeavored afterwards to deny; which, for the credit of human nature, one wishes they had done with effect. [Kohler, p. 281 (Ptolemy of Lucca,) himself a Dominican, is one of the ACCUSING spirits: Muratori, l. xi.?? Ptolomaeus Lucensis, A.D. 1313).] But there was never any trial had; the denial was considered lame; and German History continues to shudder, in that passage, and assert. Poisoned in the wine of his sacrament: the Florentines, it is said, were at the bottom of it, and had hired the rat-eyed Dominican;—"O Italia, O Firenze!" That is not the way to achieve Italian Liberty, or Obedience to God; that is the way to confirm, as by frightful stygian oath, Italian Slavery, or continual Obedience, under varying forms, to the Other Party! The voice of Dante, then alive among men, proclaims, sad and loving as a mother's voice, and implacable as a voice of Doom, that you are wandering, and have wandered, in a terrible manner!—
Peter, the then Archbishop of Mainz, says there had not for hundreds of years such a death befallen the German Empire; to which Kohler, one of the wisest moderns, gives his assent: "It could not enough be lamented," says he, "that so vigilant a Kaiser, in the flower of his years, should have been torn from the world in so devilish a manner: who, if he had lived longer, might have done Teutschland unspeakable benefit." [Kohler, pp. 282-285.]
Henry VII. having thus perished suddenly, his Son Johann, scarcely yet come of age, could not follow him as Kaiser, according to the Father's thought; though in due time he prosecuted his advancement otherwise to good purpose, and proved a very stirring man in the world. By his Father's appointment, to whom as Kaiser the chance had fallen, he was already King of Bohemia, strong in his right and in the favor of the natives; though a titular Competitor, Henry of the Tyrol, beaten off by the late Kaiser, was still extant: whom, however, and all other perils Johann contrived to weather; growing up to be a far-sighted stout-hearted man, and potent Bohemian King, widely renowned in his day. He had a Son, and then two Grandsons, who were successively Kaisers, after a sort; making up the "Luxemburg Four" we spoke of. He did Crusades, one or more, for the Teutsch Ritters, in a shining manner;—unhappily with loss of an eye; nay ultimately, by the aid of quack oculists, with loss of both eyes. An ambitious man, not to be quelled by blindness; man with much negotiation in him; with a heavy stroke of fight too, and temper nothing loath at it; of which we shall see some glimpse by and by.
The pity was, for the Reich if not for him, he could not himself become Kaiser. Perhaps we had not then seen Henry VII.'s fine enterprises, like a fleet of half-built ships, go mostly to planks again, on the waste sea, had his Son followed him. But there was, on the contrary, a contested election; Austria in again, as usual, and again unsuccessful. The late Kaiser's Austrian competitor, "Friedrich the Fair, Duke of Austria," the parricided Albert's Son, was again one of the parties. Against whom, with real but not quite indisputable majority, stood Ludwig Duke of Bavaria: "Ludwig IV.," "Ludwig DER BAIER (the Bavarian)" as they call him among Kaisers. Contest attended with the usual election expenses; war-wrestle, namely, between the parties till one threw the other. There was much confused wrestling and throttling for seven years or more (1315-1322). Our Nurnberg Burggraf, Friedrich IV., held with Ludwig, as did the real majority, though in a languid manner, and was busy he as few were; the Austrian Hapsburgs also doing their best, now under, now above. Johann King of Bohemia was on Ludwig's side as yet. Ludwig's own Brother, Kur-Pfalz (ancestor of all the Electors, and their numerous Branches, since known there), an elder Brother, was, "out of spite" as men thought, decidedly against Ludwig.
In the eighth year came a Fight that proved decisive. Fight at Muhldorf on the Inn, 23th September, 1322,—far down in those Danube Countries, beyond where Marlborough ever was, where there has been much fighting first and last; Burggraf Friedrich was conspicuously there. A very great Battle, say the old Books,—says Hormayr, in a new readable Book, [Hormayr, OEsterreichischer Plutarch, ii. 31-37.] giving minute account of it. Ludwig rather held aloof rearward; committed his business to the Hohenzollern Burggraf and to one Schweppermann, aided by a noble lord called Rindsmaul ("COWMOUTH," no less), and by others experienced in such work. Friedrich the Hapsburger DER SCHONE, Duke of Austria, and self-styled Kaiser, a gallant handsome man, breathed mere martial fury, they say: he knew that his Brother Leopold was on march with a reinforcement to him from the Strasburg quarter, and might arrive any moment; but he could not wait,—perhaps afraid Ludwig might run;—he rashly determined to beat Ludwig without reinforcement. Our rugged fervid Hormayr (though imitating Tacitus and Johannes von Muller overmuch) will instruct fully any modern that is curious about this big Battle: what furious charging, worrying; how it "lasted ten hours;" how the blazing Handsome Friedrich stormed about, and "slew above fifty with his own hand." To us this is the interesting point: At one turn of the Battle, tenth hour of it now ending, and the tug of war still desperate, there arose a cry of joy over all the Austrian ranks, "Help coming! Help!"—and Friedrich noticed a body of Horse, "in Austrian cognizance" (such the cunning of a certain man), coming in upon his rear. Austrians and Friedrich never doubted but it was Brother Leopold just getting on the ground; and rushed forward doubly fierce. Doubly fierce; and were doubly astonished when it plunged in upon them, sharp-edged, as Burggraf Friedrich of Nurnberg,—and quite ruined Austrian Friedrich. Austrian Friedrich fought personally like a lion at bay; but it availed nothing. Rindsmaul (not lovely of lip, COWMOUTH, so-called) disarmed him: "I will not surrender except to a Prince!"—so Burggraf Friedrich was got to take surrender of him; and the Fight, and whole Controversy with it, was completely won. [Jedem Mann ein Ey (One egg to every man), Dem frommen Schweppermann zwey (Two to the excellent Schweppermann): Tradition still repeats this old rhyme, as the Kaiser's Address to his Army, or his Head Captains, at supper, after such a day's work,—in a country already to the bone.]
Poor Leopold, the Austrian Brother, did not arrive till the morrow; and saw a sad sight, before flying off again. Friedrich the Fair sat prisoner in the old Castle of Traussnitz (OBER PFALZ, Upper Palatinate, or Nurnberg country) for three years; whittling sticks:—Tourists, if curious, can still procure specimens of them at the place, for a consideration. There sat Friedrich, Brother Leopold moving Heaven and Earth,—and in fact they said, the very Devil by art magic, [Kohler, p. 288.]—to no purpose, to deliver him. And his poor Spanish Wife cried her eyes, too literally, out,—sight gone in sad fact.
Ludwig the Bavarian reigned thenceforth,—though never on easy terms. How grateful to Friedrich of Nurnberg we need not say. For one thing, he gave him all the Austrian Prisoners; whom Friedrich, judiciously generous, dismissed without ransom except that they should be feudally subject to him henceforth. This is the third Hohenzollern whom we mark as a conspicuous acquirer in the Hohenzollern family, this Friedrich IV., builder of the second story of the House. If Conrad, original Burggraf, founded the House, then (figuratively speaking) the able Friedrich III., who was Rudolf of Hapsburg's friend, built it one story high; and here is a new Friedrich, his Son, who has added a second story. It is astonishing, says Dryasdust, how many feudal superiorities the Anspach and Baireuth people still have in Austria;—they maintain their own LEHNPROBST, or Official Manager for fief-casualties, in that country:—all which proceed from this Battle of Muhldorf. [Rentsch, p. 313; Pauli; &c.] Battle fought on the 28th of September, 1322:—eight years after BABBOCKBURN; while our poor Edward II. and England with him were in such a welter with their Spencers and their Gavestons: eight years after Bannockburn, and four-and-twenty before Crecy. That will date it for English readers.
Kaiser Ludwig reigned some twenty-five years more, in a busy and even strenuous, but not a successful way. He had good windfalls, too; for example, Brandenburg, as we shall see. He made friends; reconciled himself to his Brother Kur-Pfalz and junior Cousinry there, settling handsomely, and with finality, the debatable points between them. Enemies, too, he made; especially Johann the Luxemburger, King of Bohemia, on what ground will be seen shortly, who became at last inveterate to a high degree. But there was one supremely sore element in his lot: a Pope at Avignon to whom he could by no method make himself agreeable. Pope who put him under ban, not long after that Muhldorf victory; and kept him so; inexorable, let poor Ludwig turn as he might. Ludwig's German Princes stood true to him; declared, in solemn Diet, the Pope's ban to be mere spent shot, of no avail in Imperial Politics. Ludwig went, vigorously to Italy; tried setting up a Pope of his own; but that did not answer; nor of course tend to mollify the Holiness at Avignon.
In fine, Ludwig had to carry this cross on his back, in a sorrowful manner, all his days. The Pope at last, finding Johann of Bohemia in a duly irritated state, persuaded him into setting up an Anti-Kaiser,—Johann's second Son as Anti-Kaiser,—who, though of little account, and called PFAFFEN-KAISER (Parsons' Kaiser) by the public, might have brought new troubles, had that lasted. We shall see some ultimate glimpses of it farther on.
Two years before the victory at Muhldorf, a bad chance befell in Brandenburg: the ASCANIER Line of Markgraves or Electors ended. Magniloquent Otto with the Arrow, Otto the Short, Hermann the Tall, all the Ottos, Hermanns and others, died by course of nature; nephew Waldemar himself, a stirring man, died prematurely (A.D. 1319), and left only a young cousin for successor, who died few months after: [September, 1320 (Pauli, i. 391). Michaelis, i. 260-277.] the Line of Albert the Bear went out in Brandenburg. They had lasted there about two hundred years. They had not been, in late times, the successfulest Markgraves: territories much split up among younger sons, joint Markgraves reigning, which seldom answers; yet to the last they always made stout fight for themselves; walked the stage in a high manner; and surely might be said to quit it creditably, leaving such a Brandenburg behind them, chiefly of their making, during the Two Centuries that had been given them before the night came.
There were plenty of Ascanier Cousins still extant in those parts, Saxon dignitaries, Anhalt dignitaries, lineal descendants of Albert the Bear; to some of whom, in usual times, Albert's inheritance would naturally have been granted. But the times were of battle, uncertainty, contested election: and the Ascaniers, I perceive, had rather taken Friedrich of Austria's side, which proved the losing one. Kaiser Ludwig DER BAIER would appoint none of these; Anti-Kaiser Friedrich's appointments, if he made any, could be only nominal, in those distant Northern parts. Ludwig, after his victory of Muhldorf, preferred to consider the Electorate of Brandenburg as lapsed, lying vacant, ungoverned these three years; and now become the Kaiser's again. Kaiser, in consequence, gave it to his Son; whose name also is Ludwig: the date of the Investiture is 1323 (year after that victory of Muhldorf); a date unfortunate to Brandenburg. We come now into a Line of BAVARIAN Markgraves, and then of LUXEMBURG ones; both of which are of fatal significance to Brandenburg.
The Ascanier Cousins, high Saxon dignitaries some of them, gloomed mere disappointment, and protested hard; but could not mend the matter, now or afterwards. Their Line went out in Saxony too, in course of time; gave place to the WETTINS, who are still there. The Ascanier had to be content with the more pristine state of acquisitions,—high pedigrees, old castles of Ascanien and Ballenstadt, territories of Anhalt or what else they had;—and never rose again to the lost height, though the race still lives, and has qualities besides its pedigree. We said the "Old Dessauer," Leopold Prince of Anhalt-Dessau, was the head of it in Friedrich Wilhelm's time; and to this day he has descendants. Catharine II. of Russia was of Anhalt-Zerbst, a junior branch. Albert the Bear, if that is of any use to him, has still occasionally notable representatives.
Ludwig junior, Kaiser Ludwig the Bavarian's eldest son, was still under age when appointed Kurfurst of Brandenburg in 1323: of course he had a "STATEHOLDER" (Viceregent, STATTHALTER); then, and afterwards in occasional absences of his, a series of such, Kaiser's Councillors, Burggraf Friedrich IV. among them, had to take some thought of Brandenburg in its new posture. Who these Brandenburg Statthalters were, is heartily indifferent even to Dryasdust,—except that one of them for some time was a Hohenzollern: which circumstance Dryasdust marks with the due note of admiration. "What he did there," Dryasdust admits, "is not written anywhere;"—good, we will hope, and not evil;—but only the Diploma nominating him (of date 1346, not in Ludwig's minority, but many years after that ended [Rentsch, p. 323.]) now exists by way of record. A difficult problem he, like the other regents and viceregents, must have had; little dreaming that it was intrinsically for a grandson of his own, and long line of grandsons. The name of this temporary Statthalter, the first Hohenzollern who had ever the least concern with Brandenburg, is Burggraf Johann II., eldest Son of our distinguished Muhldorf friend Friedrich IV.; and Grandfather (through another Friedrich) of Burggraf Friedrich VI.,—which last gentleman, as will be seen, did doubtless reap the sowings, good and bad, of all manner of men in Brandenburg. The same Johann II. it was who purchased Plassenburg Castle and Territory (cheap, for money down), where the Family afterwards had its chief residence. Hof, Town and Territory, had fallen to his Father in those parts; a gift of gratitude from Kaiser Ludwig:—most of the Voigtland is now Hohenzollern.
Kaiser Ludwig the Bavarian left his sons Electors of Brandenburg;—"Electors, KURFURSTS," now becomes the commoner term for so important a Country;—Electors not in easy circumstances. But no son of his succeeded Ludwig as Kaiser,—successor in the Reich was that Pfaffen-Kaiser, Johann of Bohemia's son, a Luxemburger once more. No son of Ludwig's; nor did any descendant,—except, after four hundred years, that unfortunate Kaiser Karl VII., in Maria Theresa's time. He was a descendant. Of whom we shall hear more than enough. The unluckiest of all Kaisers, that Karl VII.; less a Sovereign Kaiser than a bone thrown into the ring for certain royal dogs, Louis XV., George II. and others, to worry about;—watch-dogs of the gods; apt sometimes to run into hunting instead of warding.—We will say nothing more of Ludwig the Baier, or his posterity, at present: we will glance across to Preussen, and see, for one moment, what the Teutsch Ritters are doing in their new Century. It is the year 1330; Johann II. at Nurnberg, as yet only coming to be Burggraf, by no means yet administering in Brandenburg; and Ludwig junior seven years old in his new dignity there.
The Teutsch Ritters, after infinite travail, have subdued heathen Preussen; colonized the country with industrious German immigrants; banked the Weichsel and the Nogat, subduing their quagmires into meadows, and their waste streams into deep ship-courses. Towns are built, Konigsberg (KING Ottocar's TOWN), Thoren (Thorn, CITY of the GATES), with many others: so that the wild population and the tame now lived tolerably together, under Gospel and Lubeck Law; and all was ploughing and trading, and a rich country; which had made the Teutsch Ritters rich, and victoriously at their ease in comparison. But along with riches and the ease of victory, the common bad consequences had ensued. Ritters given up to luxuries, to secular ambitions; ritters no longer clad in austere mail and prayer; ritters given up to wantonness of mind and conduct; solemnly vowing, and quietly not doing; without remorse or consciousness of wrong, daily eating forbidden fruit; ritters swelling more and more into the fatted-ox condition, for whom there is but one doom. How far they had carried it, here is one symptom that may teach us.
In the year 1330, one Werner von Orseln was Grand-master of these Ritters. The Grand-master, who is still usually the best man they can get, and who by theory is sacred to them as a Grand-Lama or Pope among Cardinal-Lamas, or as an Abbot to his Monks,—Grand-master Werner, we say, had lain down in Marienburg one afternoon of this year 1330, to take his siesta, and was dreaming peaceably after a moderate repast, when a certain devil-ridden mortal, Johann von Endorf, one of his Ritters, long grumbling about severity, want of promotion and the like, rushed in upon the good old man; ran him through, dead for a ducat; [Voigt, iv. 474, 482.]—and consummated a PARRICIDE at which the very cross on one's white cloak shudders! Parricide worse, a great deal, than that at the Ford of Reuss upon one-eyed Albert.
We leave the shuddering Ritters to settle it, sternly vengeful; whom, for a moment, it has struck broad-awake to some sense of the very questionable condition they are getting into.
Young Ludwig Kurfurst of Brandenburg, Kaiser Ludwig's eldest son, having come of years, the Tutors or Statthalters went home,—not wanted except in cases of occasional absence henceforth;—and the young man endeavored to manage on his own strength. His success was but indifferent; he held on, however, for a space of twenty years, better or worse. "He helped King Edward III. at the Siege of Cambray (A.D. 1339);" [Michaelis, i. 279.] whose French politics were often connected with the Kaiser's: it is certain, Kurfurst Ludwig "served personally with 600 horse [on good payment, I conclude] at that Siege of Cambray;"—and probably saw the actual Black Prince, and sometimes dined with him, as English readers can imagine. In Brandenburg he had many checks and difficult passages, but was never quite beaten out, which it was easy to have been.
A man of some ability, as we can gather, though not of enough: he played his game with resolution, not without skill; but from the first the cards were against him. His Father's affairs going mostly ill were no help to his, which of themselves went not well. The Brandenburgers, mindful of their old Ascanier sovereigns, were ill affected to Ludwig and the new Bavarian sort. The Anhalt Cousinry gloomed irreconcilable; were never idle, digging pitfalls, raising troubles. From them and others Kurfurst Ludwig had troubles enough; which were fronted by him really not amiss; which we wholly, or all but wholly, omit in this place.
The wickedest and worst trouble of their raising was that of the resuscitated Waldemar (A.D. 1345): "False Waldemar," as he is now called in Brandenburg Books. Waldemar was the last, or as good as the last, of the Ascanier Markgraves; and he, two years before Ludwig ever saw those countries, died in his bed, twenty-five good years ago; and was buried, and seemingly ended. But no; after twenty-five years, Waldemar reappears: "Not buried or dead, only sham-buried, sham-dead; have been in the Holy Land all this while, doing pilgrimage and penance; and am come to claim my own again,—which strangers are much misusing!" [Michaelis, i. 279.]
Perkin Warbeck, POST-MORTEM Richard II., Dimitri of Russia, Martin Guerre of the CAUSES CELEBRES: it is a common story in the world, and needs no commentary now. POST-MORTEM Waldemar, it is said, was a Miller's Man, "of the name of Jakob Rehback;" who used to be about the real Waldemar in a menial capacity, and had some resemblance to him. He showed signets, recounted experiences, which had belonged to the real Waldemar. Many believed in his pretension, and took arms to assert it; the Reich being in much internal battle at the time; poor Kaiser Ludwig, with his Avignon Popes and angry Kings Johann, wading in deep waters. Especially the disaffected Cousinry, or Princes of Anhalt, believed and battled for POST-MORTEM Waldemar; who were thought to have got him up from the first. Kurfurst Ludwig had four or five most sad years with him;—all the worse when the PFAFFEN-KAISER (King Johann's son) came on the stage, in the course of them (A.D. 1346), and Kaiser Ludwig, yielding not indeed to him, but to Death, vanished from it two years after; [Elected, 1314; Muhldorf, and Election COMPLETE, 1322; died, 1347, age 60.] leaving Kurfurst Ludwig to his own shifts with the Pfaffen-Kaiser. Whom he could not now hinder from succeeding to the Reich. He tried hard; set up, he and others, an Anti-Kaiser (GUNTHER OF SCHWARTZBURG, temporary Anti-Kaiser, whom English readers can forget again): he bustled, battled, negotiated, up and down; and ran across, at one time, to Preussen to the Teutsch Ritters,—presumably to borrow money:—but it all would not do. The Pfaffen-Kaiser carried it, in the Diet and out of the Diet: Karl IV. by title; a sorry enough Kaiser, and by nature an enemy of Ludwig's.
It was in this whirl of intricate misventures that Kurfurst Ludwig had to deal with his False Waldemar, conjured from the deeps upon him, like a new goblin, where already there were plenty, in the dance round poor Ludwig. Of which nearly inextricable goblin-dance; threatening Brandenburg, for one thing, with annihilation, and yet leading Brandenburg abstrusely towards new birth and higher destinies,—how will it be possible (without raising new ghosts, in a sense) to give readers any intelligible notion?—Here, flickering on the edge of conflagration after duty done, is a poor Note which perhaps the reader had better, at the risk of superfluity, still in part take along with him:—
"Kaiser Henry VII., who died of sacramental wine, First of the Luxemburg Kaisers, left Johann still a boy of fifteen, who could not become the second of them, but did in time produce the Second, who again produced the Third and Fourth.
"Johann was already King of Bohemia; the important young gentleman, Ottocar's grandson, whom we saw 'murdered at Olmutz none yet knows by whom,' had left that throne vacant, and it lapsed to the Kaiser; who, the Nation also favoring, duly put in his son Johann. There was a competitor, 'Duke of the Tyrol,' who claimed on loose grounds; 'My wife was Aunt of the young murdered King,' said he; 'wherefore'—! Kaiser, and Johann after him, rebutted this competitor; but he long gave some trouble, having great wealth and means. He produced a Daughter, Margaret Heiress of the Tyrol,—with a terrible MOUTH to her face, and none of the gentlest hearts in her body:—that was perhaps his principal feat in the world. He died 1331; had styled himself 'King of Bohemia' for twenty years,—ever since 1308;—but in the last two years of his life he gave it up, and ceased from troubling, having come to a beautiful agreement with Johann.
"Johann, namely, wedded his eldest Son to this competitor's fine Daughter with the mouth (Year 1329): 'In this manner do not Bohemia and the Tyrol come together in my blood and in yours, and both of us are made men?' said the two contracting parties.—Alas, no: the competitor Duke, father of the Bride, died some two years after, probably with diminished hopes of it; and King Johann lived to see the hope expire dismally altogether. There came no children, there came no—In fact Margaret, after a dozen years of wedlock, in unpleasant circumstances, broke it off as if by explosion; took herself and her Tyrol irrevocably over to Kaiser Ludwig, quite away from King Johann,—who, his hopes of the Tyrol expiring in such dismal manner, was thenceforth the bitter enemy of Ludwig and what held of him."
Tyrol explosion was in 1342. And now, keeping these preliminary dates and outlines in mind, we shall understand the big-mouthed Lady better, and the consequences of her in the world.
What principally raised this dance of the devils round poor Ludwig, I perceive, was a marriage he had made, three years before Waldemar emerged; of which, were it only for the sake of the Bride's name, some mention is permissible. Margaret of the Tyrol, commonly called, by contemporaries and posterity, MAULTASCHE (Mouthpoke, Pocket-mouth), she was the bride:—marriage done at Innspruck, 1342, under furtherance of father Ludwig the Kaiser:—such a mouth as we can fancy, and a character corresponding to it. This, which seemed to the two Ludwigs a very conquest of the golden-fleece under conditions, proved the beginning of their worst days to both of them.
Not a lovely bride at all, this Maultasche; who is verging now towards middle life withal, and has had enough to cross her in the world. Was already married thirteen years ago; not wisely nor by any means too well. A terrible dragon of a woman. Has been in nameless domestic quarrels; in wars and sieges with rebellious vassals; claps you an iron cap on her head, and takes the field when need is: furious she-bear of the Tyrol. But she has immense possessions, if wanting in female charms. She came by mothers from that Duke of Meran whom we saw get his death (for cause), in the Plassenburg a hundred years ago. [Antes, p.102.] Her ancestor was Husband to an Aunt of that homicided Duke: from him, principally from him, she inherits the Tyrol, Carinthia, Styria; is herself an only child, the last of a line: hugest Heiress now going. So that, in spite of the mouth and humor, she has not wanted for wooers,—especially prudent Fathers wooing her for their sons.
In her Father's lifetime, Johann King of Bohemia, always awake to such symptoms of things, and having very peculiar interests in this case, courted and got her for his Crown-Prince (as we just saw), a youth of great outlooks, outlooks towards Kaisership itself perhaps; to whom she was wedded, thirteen years ago, and duly brought the Tyrol for Heritage: but with the worst results. Heritage, namely, could not be had without strife with Austria, which likewise had claims. Far worse, the marriage itself went awry: Johann's Crown-Prince was "a soft-natured Herr," say the Books: why bring your big she-bear into a poor deer's den? Enough, the marriage came to nothing, except to huge brawlings far enough away from us: and Margaret Pouch-mouth has now divorced her Bohemian Crown-Prince as a Nullity; and again weds, on similar terms, Kaiser Ludwig's son, our Brandenburg Kurfurst,—who hopes possibly that HE now may succeed as Kaiser, on the strength of his Father and of the Tyrol. Which turned out far otherwise.
The marriage was done in the Church of Innspruck, 10th February, 1342 (for we love to be particular), "Kaiser Ludwig," happy man, "and many Princes of the Empire, looking on;" little thinking what a coil it would prove. "At the high altar she stript off her veil," symbol of wifehood or widowhood, "and put on a JUNGFERNKRANZ (maiden's-garland)," symbolically testifying how happy Ludwig junior still was. They had a son by and by; but their course otherwise, and indeed this-wise too, was much checkered.
King Johann, seeing the Tyrol gone in this manner, gloomed terribly upon his Crown-Prince; flung him aside as a Nullity, "Go to Moravia, out of sight, on an apanage, you; be Crown-Prince no longer!"—And took to fighting Kaiser Ludwig; colleagued diligently with the hostile Pope, with the King of France; intrigued and colleagued far and wide; swearing by every method everlasting enmity to Kaiser Ludwig; and set up his son Karl as Pfaffen-Kaiser. Nay, perhaps he was at the bottom of POST-OBIT Waldemar too. In brief, he raised, he mainly, this devils'-dance, in which, Kaiser Ludwig having died, poor Kurfurst Ludwig, with Maultasche hanging on him, is sometimes near his wits' end.
Johann's poor Crown-Prince, finding matters take this turn, retired into MAHREN (Moravia) as bidden; "Margrave of Mahren;" and peaceably adjusted himself to his character of Nullity and to the loss of Maultasche;—chose, for the rest, a new Princess in wedlock, with more moderate dimensions of mouth; and did produce sons and daughters on a fresh score. Produced, among others, one Jobst his successor in the apanage or Margrafdom; who, as JOBST, or Jodocus, OF MAHREN, made some noise for himself in the next generation, and will turn up again in reference to Brandenburg in this History.
As for Margaret Pouch-mouth, she, with her new Husband as with her old, continued to have troubles, pretty much as the sparks fly upwards. She had fierce siegings after this, and explosive procedures,—little short of Monk Schwartz, who was just inventing gunpowder at the time. We cannot hope she lived in Elysian harmony with Kurfurst Ludwig;—the reverse, in fact; and oftenest with the whole breadth of Germany between them, he in Brandenburg, she in the Tyrol. Nor did Ludwig junior ever come to be Kaiser, as his Father and she had hoped; on the contrary, King Johann of Bohemia's people,—it was they that next got the Kaisership and kept it; a new provocation to Maultasche.
Ludwig and she had a son, as we said; Prince of the Tyrol and appendages, titular Margraf of Mahren and much else, by nature: but alas, he died about ten; a precocious boy,—fancy the wild weeping of a maternal She-bear! And the Father had already died; [In 1361, died Kurfurst Ludwig; 1363, the Boy; 1366, Maultasche herself.] a malicious world whispering that perhaps she poisoned them BOTH. The proud woman, now old too, pursed her big coarse lips together at such rumor, and her big coarse soul,—in a gloomy scorn appealing beyond the world; in a sorrow that the world knew not of. She solemnly settled her Tyrol and appendages upon the Austrian Archdukes, who were children of her Mother's Sister; whom she even installed into the actual government, to make matters surer. This done, she retired to Vienna, on a pension from them, there to meditate and pray a little, before Death came; as it did now in a short year or two. Tyrol and the appendages continue with Austria from that hour to this, Margaret's little boy having died.
Margaret of the Pouch-mouth, rugged dragoon-major of a woman, with occasional steel cap on her head, and capable of swearing terribly in Flanders or elsewhere, remains in some measure memorable to me. Compared with Pompadour, Duchess of Cleveland, of Kendal and other high-rouged unfortunate females, whom it is not proper to speak of without necessity, though it is often done,—Maultasche rises to the rank of Historical. She brought the Tyrol and appendages permanently to Austria; was near leading Brandenburg to annihilation, raising such a goblin-dance round Ludwig and it, yet did abstrusely lead Brandenburg towards a far other goal, which likewise has proved permanent for it.
Kaiser Ludwig died in 1347, while the False Waldemar was still busy. We saw Karl IV., Johann of Bohemia's second son, come to the Kaisership thereupon, Johann's eldest Nullity being omitted. This Fourth Karl,—other three Karls are of the Charlemagne set, Karl the Bald, the Fat, and such like, and lie under our horizon, while CHARLES FIFTH is of a still other set, and known to everybody,—this Karl IV. is the Kaiser who discovered the Well of KARLSBAD (Bath of Karl), known to Tourists of this day; and made the GOLDEN BULL, which I forbid all Englishmen to take for an agricultural Prize Animal, the thing being far other, as is known to several.
There is little farther to be said of Karl in Reichs-History. An unesteemed creature; who strove to make his time peaceable in this world, by giving from the Holy Roman Empire with both hands to every bull-beggar, or ready-payer who applied. Sad sign what the Roman Empire had come and was coming to. The Kaiser's shield, set up aloft in the Roncalic Plain in Barbarossa's time, intimated, and in earnest too, "Ho, every one that has suffered wrong!"—intimates now, "Ho, every one that can bully me, or has money in his pocket!" Unadmiring posterity has confirmed the nickname of this Karl IV.; and calls him PFAFFEN-KAISER. He kept mainly at Prag, ready for receipt of cash, and holding well out of harm's way. In younger years he had been much about the French Court; in Italy he had suffered troubles, almost assassinations; much blown to and fro, poor light wretch, on the chaotic Winds of his Time,—steering towards no star.
Johann, King of Bohemia, did not live to see Karl an acknowledged Kaiser. Old Johann, blind for some time back, had perished two years before that event;—bequeathing a Heraldic Symbol to the World's History and to England's, if nothing more. Poor man, he had crusaded in Preussen in a brilliant manner, being fond of fighting. He wrung Silesia, gradually by purchase and entreaty (pretio ac prece), from the Polish King; [1327-1341 (Kohler, p. 302).] joined IT firmly to Bohemia and Germany,—unconsciously waiting for what higher destinies Silesia might have. For Maultasche and the Tyrol he brought sad woes on Brandenburg; and yet was unconsciously leading Brandenburg, by abstruse courses, whither it had to go. A restless, ostentatious, far-grasping, strong-handed man; who kept the world in a stir wherever he was. All which has proved voiceless in the World's memory; while the casual Shadow of a Feather he once wore has proved vocal there. World's memory is very whimsical now and then.
Being much implicated with the King of France, who with the Pope was his chief stay in these final Anti-Ludwig operations, Johann—in 1346, Pfaffen-Kaiser Karl just set on foot—had led his chivalry into France, to help against the English Edwards, who were then very intrusive there. Johann was blind, but he had good ideas in war. At the Battle of Crecy, 24th August, 1346, he advised we know not what; but he actually fought, though stone-blind. "Tied his bridle to that of the Knight next him; and charged in,"—like an old blind war-horse kindling madly at the sound of the trumpet;—and was there, by some English lance or yew, laid low. They found him on that field of carnage (field of honor, too, in a sort); his old blind face looking, very blindly, to the stars: on his shield was blazoned a Plume of three ostrich-feathers with "ICH DIEN (I serve)" written under:—with which emblem every English reader is familiar ever since! This Editor himself, in very tender years, noticed it on the Britannic Majesty's war-drums; and had to inquire of children of a larger growth what the meaning might be.
That is all I had to say of King Johann and his "ICH DIEN." Of the Luxemburg Kaisers (four in number, two sons of Karl still to come); who, except him of the sacramental wine, with "ICH DIEN" for son, are good for little; and deserve no memory from mankind except as they may stick, not easily extricable, to the history of nobler men:—of them also I could wish to be silent, but must not. Must at least explain how they came in, as "Luxemburg Kurfursts" in Brandenburg; and how they went out, leaving Brandenburg not annihilated, but very near it.
Imaginary Waldemar being still busy in Brandenburg, it was natural for Kaiser Karl to find him genuine, and keep up that goblin-dance round poor Kurfurst Ludwig, the late Kaiser's son, by no means a lover of Karl's. Considerable support was managed to be raised for Waldemar. Kaiser Karl regularly infeoffed him as real Kurfurst, so far as parchment could do it; and in case of his decease, says Karl's diploma farther, the Princes of Anhalt shall succeed,—Ludwig in any case is to be zero henceforth. War followed, or what they called war: much confused invading, bickering and throttling, for two years to come. "Most of the Towns declared for Waldemar, and their old Anhalt line of Margraves:" Ludwig and the Bavarian sort are clearly not popular here. Ludwig held out strenuously, however; would not be beaten. He had the King of Denmark for Brother-in-law; had connections in the Reich: perhaps still better he had the REICHS-INSIGNIA, lately his Father's, still in hand. He stood obstinate siege from the Kaiser's people and the Anhalters; shouted-in Denmark to help; started an Anti-Kaiser, as we said,—temporary Anti-Kaiser Gunther of Schwartzburg, whom the reader can forget a second time:—in brief, Ludwig contrived to bring Kaiser Karl, and Imaginary Waldemar with his Anhalters, to a quietus and negotiation, and to get Brandenburg cleared of them. Year 1349, they went their ways; and that devils'-dance, which had raged five years and more round Ludwig, was fairly got laid or lulled again.
Imaginary Waldemar, after some farther ineffectual wrigglings, retired altogether into private life, at the Court of Dessau; and happily died before long. Died at the Court of Dessau; the Anhalt Cousins treating him to the last as Head Representative of Albert the Bear, and real Prince Waldemar; for which they had their reasons. Portraits of this False Waldemar still turn up in the German Print-shops; [In Kloss (Vaterlandische Gemalde, ii. 29), a sorry Compilation, above referred to, without value except for the old Excerpts, &c., there is a Copy of it.] and represent a very absurd fellow, much muffled in drapery, mouth partially open, eyes wholly and widely so,—never yet recovered from his astonishment at himself and things in general! How it fared with poor Brandenburg, in these chaotic throttlings and vicissitudes, under the Bavarian Kurfursts, we can too well imagine; and that is little to what lies ahead for it.
However, in that same year, 1349, temporary quietus having come, Kurfurst Ludwig, weary of the matter, gave it over to his Brother: "Have not I an opulent Maultasche, Gorgon-Wife, susceptible to kindness, in the Tyrol; have not I in the Reich elsewhere resources, appliances?" thought Kurfurst Ludwig. And gave the thing over to his next Brother. Brother whose name also is LUDWIG (as their Father's also had been, three Ludwigs at once, for our dear Germans shine in nomenclature): "Ludwig THE ROMAN" this new one;—the elder Brother, our acquaintance, being Ludwig simply, distinguishable too as KURFURST Ludwig, or even as Ludwig SENIOR at this stage of the affair. Kurfurst Ludwig, therefore, Year 1349, washes his hands of Brandenburg while the quietus lasts; retaining only the Electorship and Title; and goes his ways, resolving to take his ease in Bavaria and the Tyrol thenceforth. How it fared with him there, with his loving Gorgon and him, we will not ask farther. They had always separate houses to fly to, in case of extremity! They held out, better or worse, twelve years more; and Ludwig left his little Boy still surviving him, in 1361.
In Brandenburg, the new Markgraf Ludwig, who we say is called "THE ROMAN" (LUDWIG DER ROMER, having been in Rome) to distinguish him, continued warring with the Anarchies, fifteen years in a rather tough manner, without much victory on either side;—made his peace with Kaiser Karl however, delivering up the REICHS-INSIGNIA; and tried to put down the domestic Robbers, who had got on foot, "many of them persons of quality;" [Michaelis, i. 282.] till he also died, childless, A.D. 1365; having been Kurfurst too, since his Brother's death, for some four years.
Whereupon Brandenburg, Electorship and all Titles with it, came to Otto, third son of Kaiser Ludwig, who is happily the last of these Bavarian Electors. They were an unlucky set of Sovereigns, not hitherto without desert; and the unlucky Country suffered much under them. By far the unluckiest, and by far the worst, was this Otto; a dissolute, drinking, entirely worthless Herr; under whom, for eight years, confusion went worse confounded; as if plain chaos were coming; and Brandenburg and Otto grew tired of each other to the last degree.
In which state of matters, A.D. 1373, Kaiser Karl offered Otto a trifle of ready money to take himself away. Otto accepted greedily; sold his Electorate and big Mark of Brandenburg to Kaiser Karl for an old song,—200,000 thalers (about 30,000 pounds, and only half of it ever paid); [Michaelis, i. 283.]—withdrew to his Schloss of Wolfstein in Bavaria; and there, on the strength of that or other sums, "rolled deep as possible in every sort of debauchery." And so in few years puddled himself to death; foully ending the Bavarian set of Kurfursts. They had lasted fifty years; with endless trouble to the Country and to themselves; and with such mutual profit as we have seen.
If Brandenburg suffered much under the Bavarian Kurfursts for Fifty years, it was worse, and approached to the state of worst, under the Luxemburgers, who lasted for some Forty more. Ninety years of anarchy in all; which at length brought it to great need of help from the Fates!—
Karl IV. made his eldest Boy Wenzel, still only about twelve, Elector of Brandenburg; [1373 (born 1361).] Wenzel shall be Kaiser and King of Bohemia, one day, thinks Karl;—which actually came to pass, and little to Wenzel's profit, by and by. In the mean while Karl accompanied him to Brandenburg; which country Karl liked much at the money, and indeed ever after, in his old days, he seemed rather to busy himself with it. He assembled some kind of STANDE (States) twice over; got the Country "incorporated with Bohemia" by them, and made tight and handy so far. Brandenburg shall rest from its woes, and be a silent portion of Bohemia henceforth, thinks Karl,—if the Heavens so please. Karl, a futile Kaiser, would fain have done something to "encourage trade" in Brandenburg; though one sees not what it was he did, if anything. He built the Schloss of Tangermunde, and oftenest lived there in time coming; a quieter place than even Prag for him. In short, he appears to have fancied his cheap Purchase, and to have cheered his poor old futile life with it, as with one thing that had been successful. Poor old creature: he had been a Kaiser on false terms, "Ho every one that dare bully me, or that has money in his pocket;"—a Kaiser that could not but be futile! In five years' time he died; [King of Bohemia, 1346, on his Father's death; Kaiser (acknowledged on Ludwig the BAIER'S death), 1347; died, 1378, age 62.] and doubtless was regretted in Brandenburg and even in the Reich, in comparison with what came next.
In Brandenburg he left, instead of one indifferent or even bad governor steadily tied to the place and in earnest to make the best of it, a fluctuating series of governors holding loose, and not in earnest; which was infinitely worse. These did not try to govern it; sent it to the Pawnbroker, to a fluctuating series of Pawnbrokers; under whom, for the next five-and-thirty years, Brandenburg tasted all the fruits of Non-government, that is to say, Anarchy or Government by the Pawnbroker; and sank faster and faster, towards annihilation as it seemed. That was its fate under the Luxemburg Kurfursts, who made even the Bavarian and all others be regretted.
One thing Kaiser Karl did, which ultimately proved the saving of Brandenburg: made friendship with the Hohenzollern Burggraves. These, Johann II., temporary "STUTTHALTER" Johann, and his Brother, who were Co-regents in the Family Domain, when Karl first made appearance,—had stood true to Kaiser Ludwig and his Son, so long as that play lasted at all; nay one of these Burggraves was talked of as Kaiser after Ludwig's death, but had the wisdom not to try. Kaiser Ludwig being dead, they still would not recognize the PFAFFEN-KAISER Karl, but held gloomily out. So that Karl had to march in force into the Nurnberg country, and by great promises, by considerable gifts, and the "example of the other Princes of the Empire," ["Hallow-eve, 1347, on the Field of Nurnberg," Agreement was come to (Rentsch, p. 326).] brought them over to do homage.
After which, their progress, and that of their successor (Johann's son, Friedrich V.), in the grace of Karl, was something extraordinary. Karl gave his Daughter to this Friedrich V.'s eldest Son; appointed a Daughter of Friedrich's for his own Second Prince, the famed Sigismund, famed that is to be,—which latter match did not take effect, owing to changed outlooks after Karl's death. Nay there is a Deed still extant about marrying children not yet born: Karl to produce a Princess within five years, and Burggraf Friedrich V. a Prince, for that purpose! [Rentsch, p. 336.] But the Burggraf never had another Prince; though Karl produced the due Princess, and was ready, for his share. Unless indeed this strange eager-looking Document, not dated in the old Books, may itself relate to the above wedding which did come to pass?—Years before that, Karl had made his much-esteemed Burggraf Friedrich V. "Captain-General of the Reich;" "Imperial Vicar," (SUBSTITUTE, if need were), and much besides; nay had given him the Landgraviate of Elsass (ALSACE),—so far as lay with him to give,—of which valuable country this Friedrich had actual possession so long as the Kaiser lived. "Best of men," thought the poor light Kaiser; "never saw such a man!"
Which proved a salutary thought, after all. The man had a little Boy Fritz (not the betrothed to Karl's Princess), still chasing butterflies at Culmbach, when Karl died. In this Boy lie new destinies for Brandenburg: towards him, and not towards annihilation, are Karl and the Luxemburg Kurfursts and Pawnbrokers unconsciously guiding it.
Karl left three young Sons, Wenzel, Sigismund, Johann; and also a certain Nephew much older; all of whom now more or less concern us in this unfortunate History.
Wenzel the eldest Son, heritable Kurfurst of Brandenburg as well as King of Bohemia, was as yet only seventeen, who nevertheless got to be Kaiser, [1378, on his Father's death.]—and went widely astray, poor soul. The Nephew was no other than Margrave Jobst of Moravia (son of Maultasche's late Nullity there), now in the vigor of his years and a stirring man: to him, for a time, the chief management in Brandenburg fell, in these circumstances. Wenzel, still a minor, and already Kaiser and King of Bohemia, gave up Brandenburg to his two younger Brothers, most of it to Sigismund, with a cutting for Johann, to help their apanages; and applied his own powers to govern the Holy Roman Empire, at that early stage of life.
To govern the Holy Roman Empire, poor soul;—or rather "to drink beer, and dance with the girls;" in which, if defective in other things, Wenzel had an eminent talent. He was one of the worst Kaisers, and the least victorious on record. He would attend to nothing in the Reich; "the Prag white beer, and girls" of various complexion, being much preferable, as he was heard to say. He had to fling his poor Queen's Confessor into the River Moldau,—Johann of Nepomuk, Saint so called, if he is not a fable altogether; whose Statue stands on Bridges ever since, in those parts. Wenzel's Bohemians revolted against him; put him in jail; and he broke prison, a boatman's daughter helping him out, with adventures. His Germans were disgusted with him; deposed him from the Kaisership; [25th May, 1400 (Kohler, p. 331).] chose Rupert of the Pfalz; and then after Rupert's death, [1410 (ib. p. 336).] chose Wenzel's own Brother Sigismund, in his stead,—left Wenzel to jumble about in his native Bohemian element, as King there, for nineteen years longer, still breaking pots to a ruinous extent.
He ended, by apoplexy, or sudden spasm of the heart; terrible Zisca, as it were, killing him at second-hand. For Zisca, stout and furious, blind of one eye and at last of both, a kind of human rhinoceros driven mad, had risen out of the ashes of murdered Huss, and other bad Papistic doings, in the interim; and was tearing up the world at a huge rate. Rhinoceros Zisca was on the Weissenberg, or a still nearer Hill of Prag since called ZISCA-BERG (Zisca Hill): and none durst whisper of it to the King. A servant waiting at dinner inadvertently let slip the word:—"Zisca there? Deny it, slave!" cried Wenzel frantic. Slave durst not deny. Wenzel drew his sword to run at him, but fell down dead: that was the last pot broken by Wenzel. The hapless royal ex-imperial Phantasm self-broken in this manner. [30th July, 1419 (Hormayr, vii. 119).] Poor soul, he came to the Kaisership too early; was a thin violent creature, sensible to the charms and horrors of created objects; and had terrible rhinoceros Ziscas and unruly horned-cattle to drive. He was one of the worst Kaisers ever known,—could have done Opera-singing much better;—and a sad sight to Bohemia. Let us leave him there: he was never actual Elector of Brandenburg, having given it up in time; never did any ill to that poor Country.
The real Kurfurst of Brandenburg all this while was Sigismund Wenzel's next Brother, under tutelage of Cousin Jobst or otherwise;—real and yet imaginary, for he never himself governed, but always had Jobst of Mahren or some other in his place there. Sigismund, as above said, was to have married a Daughter of Burggraf Friedrich V.; and he was himself, as was the young lady, well inclined to this arrangement. But the old people being dead, and some offer of a King's Daughter turning up for Sigismund, Sigismund broke off; and took the King's Daughter, King of Hungary's,—not without regret then and afterwards, as is believed. At any rate, the Hungarian charmer proved a wife of small merit, and a Hungarian successor she had was a wife of light conduct even; Hungarian charmers, and Hungarian affairs, were much other than a comfort to Sigismund.
As for the disappointed Princess, Burggraf Friedrich's Daughter, she said nothing that we hear; silently became a Nun, an Abbess: and through a long life looked out, with her thoughts to herself, upon the loud whirlwind of things, where Sigismund (oftenest like an imponderous rag of conspicuous color) was riding and tossing. Her two Brothers also, joint Burggraves after their Father's death, seemed to have reconciled themselves without difficulty. The elder of them was already Sigismund's Brother-in-law; married to Sigismund's and Wenzel's sister,—by such predestination as we saw. Burggraf Johann III. was the name of this one: a stout fighter and manager for many years; much liked, and looked to, by Sigismund. As indeed were both the Brothers, for that matter; always, together or in succession, a kind of right-hand to Sigismund. Friedrich the younger Burggraf, and ultimately the survivor and inheritor (Johann having left no sons), is the famed Burggraf Friedrich VI., the last and notablest of all the Burggraves. A man of distinguished importance, extrinsic and intrinsic; chief or among the very chief of German public men in his time;—and memorable to Posterity, and to this History, on still other grounds! But let us not anticipate.
Sigismund, if apanaged with Brandenburg alone, and wedded to his first love, not a King's Daughter, might have done tolerably well there;—better than Wenzel, with the Empire and Bohemia, did. But delusive Fortune threw her golden apple at Sigismund too; and he, in the wide high world, had to play strange pranks. His Father-in-law died in Hungary, Sigismund's first wife his only child. Father-in-law bequeathed Hungary to Sigismund: [1387 (Sigismund's age then twenty).] who plunged into a strange sea thereby; got troubles without number, beatings not a few,—and had even to take boat, and sail for his life down to Constantinople, at one time. In which sad adventure Burggraf Johann escorted him, and as it were tore him out by the hair of the head. These troubles and adventures lasted many years; in the course of which, Sigismund, trying all manner of friends and expedients, found in the Burggraves of Nurnberg, Johann and Friedrich, with their talents, possessions and resources, the main or almost only sure support he got.
No end of troubles to Sigismund, and to Brandenburg through him, from this sublime Hungarian legacy! Like a remote fabulous golden-fleece, which you have to go and conquer first, and which is worth little when conquered. Before ever setting out (A.D. 1387), Sigismund saw too clearly he would have cash to raise: an operation he had never done with, all his life afterwards. He pawned Brandenburg to Cousin Jobst of Mahren; got "20,000 Bohemian gulden,"—I guess, a most slender sum, if Dryasdust would but interpret it. This was the beginning of Pawnings to Brandenburg; of which when will the end be? Jobst thereby came into Brandenburg on his own right for the time, not as Tutor or Guardian, which he had hitherto been. Into Brandenburg; and there was no chance of repayment to get him out again.
Jobst tried at first to do some governing; but finding all very anarchic, grew unhopeful; took to making matters easy for himself. Took, in fact, to turning a penny on his pawn-ticket; alienating crown domains, winking hard at robber-barons, and the like;—and after a few years, went home to Moravia, leaving Brandenburg to shift for itself, under a Statthalter (VICEREGENT, more like a hungry land-steward), whom nobody took the trouble of respecting. Robber-castles flourished; all else decayed. No highway not unsafe; many a Turpin with sixteen quarters, and styling himself EDDLE HERR (noble Gentleman), took to "living from the saddle:"—what are Hamburg pedlers made for but to be robbed?
The Towns suffered much; any trade they might have had, going to wreck in this manner. Not to speak of private feuds, which abounded ad libitum. Neighboring potentates, Archbishop of Magdeburg and others, struck in also at discretion, as they had gradually got accustomed to do, and snapped away (ABZWACKTEN) some convenient bit of territory, or, more legitimately, they came across to coerce, at their own hand, this or the other Edle Herr of the Turpin sort, whom there was no other way of getting at, when he carried matters quite too high. "Droves of six hundred swine,"—I have seen (by reading in those old Books) certain noble Gentlemen, "of Putlitz," I think, driving them openly, captured by the stronger hand; and have heard the short querulous squeak of the bristly creatures: "What is the use of being a pig at all, if I am to be stolen in this way, and surreptitiously made into ham?" Pigs do continue to be bred in Brandenburg: but it is under such discouragements. Agriculture, trade, well-being and well-doing of any kind, it is not encouragement they are meeting here. Probably few countries, not even Ireland, have a worse outlook, unless help come. [Pauli, i. 541-612. Michaelis, i. 283-285.] Jobst came back in 1398, after eight years' absence; but no help came with Jobst. The NEUMARK part of Brandenburg, which was Brother Johann's portion, had fallen home to Sigismund, Brother Johann having died: but Sigismund, far from redeeming old pawn-tickets with the Newmark, pawned the Newmark too,—the second Pawnage of Brandenburg. Pawned the Newmark to the Teutsch Ritters "for 63,000 Hungarian gold gulden" (I think, about 30,000 pounds): and gave no part of it to Jobst; had not nearly enough for himself and his Hungarian occasions.
Seeing which, and hearing such squeak of pigs surreptitiously driven, with little but discordant sights and sounds everywhere, Jobst became disgusted with the matter; and resolved to wash his hands of it, at least to have his money out of it again. Having sold what of the Domains he could to persons of quality, at an uncommonly easy rate, and so pocketed what ready cash there was among them, he made over his pawn-ticket, or properly he himself repawned Brandenburg to the Saxon Potentate, a speculative moneyed man, Markgraf of Meissen, "Wilhelm the Rich" so called. Pawned it to Wilhelm the Rich,—sum not named; and went home to Moravia, there to wait events. This is the third Brandenburg pawning: let us hope there may be a fourth and last.
And so we have now reached that point in Brandenburg History when, if some help do not come, Brandenburg will not long be a country, but will either get dissipated in pieces and stuck to the edge of others where some government is, or else go waste again and fall to the bisons and wild bears.
Who now is Kurfurst of Brandenburg, might be a question. "I UNquestionably!" Sigismund would answer, with astonishment. "Soft, your Hungarian Majesty," thinks Jobst: "till my cash is paid, may it not probably be another?" This question has its interest: the Electors just now (A.D. 1400) are about deposing Wenzel; must choose some better Kaiser. If they wanted another scion of the House of Luxemburg; a mature old gentleman of sixty; full of plans, plausibilities, pretensions,—Jobst is their man. Jobst and Sigismund were of one mind as to Wenzel's going; at least Sigismund voted clearly so, and Jobst said nothing counter: but the Kurfursts did not think of Jobst for successor. After some stumbling, they fixed upon Rupert KUR-PFALZ (Elector Palatine, RUPRECHT VON DER PFALZ) as Kaiser.
Rupert of the Pfalz proved a highly respectable Kaiser; lasted for ten years (1400-1410), with honor to himself and the Reich. A strong heart, strong head, but short of means. He chastised petty mutiny with vigor; could not bring down the Milanese Visconti, who had perched themselves so high on money paid to Wenzel; could not heal the schism of the Church (Double or Triple Pope, Rome-Avignon affair), or awaken the Reich to a sense of its old dignity and present loose condition. In the late loose times, as Antiquaries remark, [Kohler, p. 334; who quotes Schilter.] most Members of the Empire, Petty Princes even and Imperial Towns, had been struggling to set up for themselves; and were now concerned chiefly to become Sovereign in their own Territories. And Schilter informs us, it was about this period that most of them attained such rather unblessed consummation; Rupert of himself not able to help it, with all his willingness. The People called him "Rupert KLEMM (Rupert SMITH'S-VICE)" from his resolute ways; which nickname—given him not in hatred, but partly in satirical good-will—is itself a kind of history. From Historians of the REICH he deserves honorable regretful mention.
He had for Empress a Sister of Burggraf Friedrich's; which high lady, unknown to us otherwise, except by her Tomb at Heidelberg, we remember for her Brother's sake. Kaiser Rupert—great-grandson of that Kur-Pfalz who was Kaiser Ludwig's elder brother—is the culminating point of the Electors Palatine; the Highest that Heidelberg produced. Ancestor of those famed Protestant "Palatines;" of all the Palatines or PFLAZES that reign in these late centuries. Ancestor of the present Bavarian Majesty; Kaiser Ludwig's race having died out. Ancestor of the unfortunate WINTERKONIG, Friedrich King of Bohemia, who is too well known in English History;—ancestor also of Charles XII. of Sweden, a highly creditable fact of the kind to him. Fact indisputable: A cadet of Pfalz-Zweibruck (DEUX-PONTS, as the French call it), direct from Rupert, went to serve in Sweden in his soldier business; distinguished himself in soldiering;—had a Sister of the great Gustav Adolf to wife; and from her a renowned Son, Karl Gustav (Christina's Cousin), who succeeded as King; who again had a Grandson made in his own likeness, only still more of iron in his composition.—Enough now of Rupert SMITH'S-VICE; who died in 1410, and left the Reich again vacant.
Rupert's funeral is hardly done, when, over in Preussen, far off in the Memel region, place called Tannenberg, where there is still "a churchyard to be seen," if little more, the Teutsch Ritters had, unexpectedly, a terrible Defeat: consummation of their Polish Miscellaneous quarrels of long standing; and the end of their high courses in this world. A ruined Teutsch Ritterdom, as good as ruined, ever henceforth. Kaiser Rupert died 18th May; and on the 15th July, within two months, was fought that dreadful "Battle of Tannenberg,"—Poland and Polish King, with miscellany of savage Tartars and revolted Prussians, VERSUS Teutsch Ritterdom; all in a very high mood of mutual rage; the very elements, "wild thunder, tempest and rain-deluges," playing chorus to them on the occasion. [Voigt, vii. 82. Busching, Erdbeschreibung (Hamburg, 1770), ii. 1038.] Ritterdom fought lion-like, but with insufficient strategic and other wisdom; and was driven nearly distracted to see its pride tripped into the ditch by such a set. Vacant Reich could not in the least attend to it; nor can we farther at present.
Jobst and Sigismund were competitors for the Kaisership; Wenzel, too, striking in with claims for reinstatement: the House of Luxemburg divided against itself. Wenzel, finding reinstatement not to be thought of, threw his weight, such as it was, into the scale of Cousin Jobst; remembering angrily how Brother Sigismund voted in the Deposition case, ten years ago. The contest was vehement, and like to be lengthy. Jobst, though he had made over his pawn-ticket, claimed to be Elector of Brandenburg; and voted for Himself. The like, with still more emphasis, did Sigismund, or Burggraf Friedrich acting for him: "Sigismund, sure, is Kur-Brandenburg though under pawn!" argued Friedrich,—and, I almost guess, though that is not said, produced from his own purse, at some stage of the business, the actual money for Jobst, to close his Brandenburg pretension.
Both were elected (majority contested in this manner); and old Jobst, then above seventy, was like to have given much trouble: but happily in three months he died; ["Jodocus BARBATUS," 21st July, 1411.] and Sigismund became indisputable. Jobst was the son of Maultasche's Nullity; him too, in an involuntary sort, she was the cause of. In his day Jobst made much noise in the world, but did little or no good in it. "He was thought a great man," says one satirical old Chronicler; "and there was nothing great about him but the beard."
"The cause of Sigismund's success with the Electors," says Kohler, "or of his having any party among them, was the faithful and unwearied diligence which had been used for him by the above-named Burggraf Friedrich VI. of Nurnberg, who took extreme pains to forward Sigismund to the Empire; pleading that Sigismund and Wenzel would be sure to agree well henceforth, and that Sigismund, having already such extensive territories (Hungary, Brandenburg and so forth) by inheritance, would not be so exact about the REICHS-Tolls and other Imperial Incomes. This same Friedrich also, when the Election fell out doubtful, was Sigismund's best support in Germany, nay almost his right-hand, through whom he did whatever was done." [Kohler, p. 337.]
Sigismund is Kaiser, then, in spite of Wenzel. King of Hungary, after unheard-of troubles and adventures, ending some years ago in a kind of peace and conquest, he has long been King of Bohemia, too, he at last became; having survived Wenzel, who was childless. Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire, and so much else: is not Sigismund now a great man? Truly the loom he weaves upon, in this world, is very large. But the weaver was of headlong, high-pacing, flimsy nature; and both warp and woof were gone dreadfully entangled!—
This is the Kaiser Sigismund who held the Council of Constance; and "blushed visibly," when Huss, about to die, alluded to the Letter of Safe-conduct granted him, which was issuing in such fashion. [15th June, 1415.] Sigismund blushed; but could not conveniently mend the matter,—so many matters pressing on him just now. As they perpetually did, and had done. An always-hoping, never-resting, unsuccessful, vain and empty Kaiser. Specious, speculative; given to eloquence, diplomacy, and the windy instead of the solid arts;—always short of money for one thing. He roamed about, and talked eloquently;—aiming high, and generally missing:—how he went to conquer Hungary, and had to float down the Donau instead, with an attendant or two, in a most private manner, and take refuge with the Grand Turk: this we have seen, and this is a general emblem of him. Hungary and even the Reich have at length become his; but have brought small triumph in any kind; and instead of ready money, debt on debt. His Majesty has no money, and his Majesty's occasions need it more and more.
He is now (A.D. 1414) holding this Council of Constance, by way of healing the Church, which is sick of Three simultaneous Popes and of much else. He finds the problem difficult; finds he will have to run into Spain, to persuade a refractory Pope there, if eloquence can (as it cannot): all which requires money, money. At opening of the Council, he "officiated as deacon;" actually did some kind of litanying "with a surplice over him," [25th December, 1414 (Kohler, p. 340).] though Kaiser and King of the Romans. But this passage of his opening speech is what I recollect best of him there: "Right Reverend Fathers, date operam ut illa nefanda schisma eradicetur," exclaims Sigismund, intent on having the Bohemian Schism well dealt with,—which he reckons to be of the feminine gender. To which a Cardinal mildly remarking, "Domine, schisma est generis neutrius (Schisma is neuter, your Majesty),"—Sigismund loftily replies, "Ego sum Rex Romanus et super grammaticam (I am King of the Romans, and above Grammar)!" [Wolfgang Mentzel, Geschichte der Deutschen, i. 477.] For which reason I call him in my Note-books Sigismund SUPER GRAMMATICAM, to distinguish him in the imbroglio of Kaisers.
How Jobst's pawn-ticket was settled I never clearly heard; but can guess it was by Burggraf Friedrich's advancing the money, in the pinch above indicated, or paying it afterwards to Jobst's heirs whoever they were. Thus much is certain: Burggraf Friedrich, these three years and more (ever since 8th July, 1411) holds Sigismund's Deed of acknowledgment "for 100,000 gulden lent at various times:" and has likewise got the Electorate of Brandenburg in pledge for that sum; and does himself administer the said Electorate till he be paid. This is the important news; but this is not all.
The new journey into Spain requires new moneys; this Council itself, with such a pomp as suited Sigismund, has cost him endless moneys. Brandenburg, torn to ruins in the way we saw, is a sorrowful matter; and, except the title of it, as a feather in one's cap, is worth nothing to Sigismund. And he is still short of money; and will forever be. Why could not he give up Brandenburg altogether; since, instead of paying, he is still making new loans from Burggraf Friedrich; and the hope of ever paying were mere lunacy! Sigismund revolves these sad thoughts too, amid his world-wide diplomacies, and efforts to heal the Church. "Pledged for 100,000 gulden," sadly ruminates Sigismund; "and 50,000 more borrowed since, by little and little; and more ever needed, especially for this grand Spanish journey!" these were Sigismund's sad thoughts:—"Advance me, in a round sum, 250,000 gulden more," said he to Burggraf Friedrich, "250,000 more, for my manifold occasions in this time;—that will be 400,000 in whole; [Rentsch, pp. 75, 357.]—and take the Electorate of Brandenburg to yourself, Land, Titles, Sovereign Electorship and all, and make me rid of it!" That was the settlement adopted, in Sigismund's apartment at Constance, on the 30th of April, 1415; signed, sealed and ratified,—and the money paid. A very notable event in World-History; virtually completed on the day we mention.
The ceremony of Investiture did not take place till two years afterwards, when the Spanish journey had proved fruitless, when much else of fruitless had come and gone, and Kaiser and Council were probably—more at leisure for such a thing. Done at length it was by Kaiser Sigismund in utmost gala, with the Grandees of the Empire assisting, and august members of the Council and world in general looking on; in the big Square or Market-place of Constance, 17th April, 1417;—is to be found described in Rentsch, from Nauclerus and the old Newsmongers of the time. Very grand indeed: much processioning on horseback, under powerful trumpet-peals and flourishes; much stately kneeling, stately rising, stepping backwards (done well, ZIERLICH, on the Kurfurst's part); liberal expenditure of cloth and pomp; in short, "above 100,000 people looking on from roofs and windows," [Pauli, Allgemeine Preussische Staats-Geschichte, ii. 14. Rentsch, pp. 76-78.] and Kaiser Sigismund in all his glory. Sigismund was on a high Platform in the Market-place, with stairs to it and from it; the illustrious Kaiser,—red as a flamingo, "with scarlet mantle and crown of gold,"—a treat to the eyes of simple mankind.
What sum of modern money, in real purchasing power, this "400,000 Hungarian Gold Gulden" is, I have inquired in the likely quarters without result; and it is probable no man exactly knows. The latest existing representative of the ancient Gold Gulden is the Ducat, worth generally about a Half-sovereign in English. Taking the sum at that latest rate, it amounts to 200,000 pounds; and the reader can use that as a note of memory for the sale-price of Brandenburg with all its lands and honors,—multiplying it perhaps by four or six to bring out its effective amount in current coin. Dog-cheap, it must be owned, for size and capability; but in the most waste condition, full of mutiny, injustice, anarchy and highway robbery; a purchase that might have proved dear enough to another man than Burggraf Friedrich.
But so, at any rate, moribund Brandenburg has got its Hohenzollern Kurfurst; and started on a new career it little dreamt of;—and we can now, right willingly, quit Sigismund and the Reichs-History; leave Kaiser Sigismund to sink or swim at his own will henceforth. His grand feat, in life, the wonder of his generation, was this same Council of Constance; which proved entirely a failure; one of the largest WIND-EGGS ever dropped with noise and travail in this world. Two hundred thousand human creatures, reckoned and reckoning themselves the elixir of the Intellect and Dignity of Europe; two hundred thousand, nay some, counting the lower menials and numerous unfortunate females, say four hundred thousand,—were got congregated into that little Swiss Town; and there as an Ecumenic Council, or solemnly distilled elixir of what pious Intellect and Valor could be scraped together in the world, they labored with all their select might for four years' space. That was the Council of Constance. And except this transfer of Brandenburg to Friedrich of Hohenzollern, resulting from said Council in the quite reverse and involuntary way, one sees not what good result it had.
They did indeed burn Huss; but that could not be called a beneficial incident; that seemed to Sigismund and the Council a most small and insignificant one. And it kindled Bohemia, and kindled rhinoceros Zisca, into never-imagined flame of vengeance; brought mere disaster, disgrace, and defeat on defeat to Sigismund, and kept his hands full for the rest of his life, however small he had thought it. As for the sublime four years' deliberations and debates of this Sanhedrim of the Universe,—eloquent debates, conducted, we may say, under such extent of WIG as was never seen before or since,—they have fallen wholly to the domain of Dryasdust; and amount, for mankind at this time, to zero PLUS the Burning of Huss. On the whole, Burggraf Friedrich's Electorship, and the first Hohenzollern to Brandenburg, is the one good result.
Adieu, then, to Sigismund. Let us leave him at this his culminating point, in the Market-place of Constance; red as a flamingo; doing one act of importance, though unconsciously and against his will.—I subjoin here, for refreshment of the reader's memory, a Synopsis, or bare arithmetical List, of those Intercalary Non-Hapsburg Kaisers, which, now that its original small duty is done, may as well be printed as burnt:—
Rudolf of Hapsburg died A.D. 1291, after a reign of eighteen vigorous years, very useful to the Empire after its Anarchic INTERREGNUM. He was succeeded, not by any of his own sons or kindred, but by,
l. Adolf of Nassau, 1291-1298. A stalwart but necessitous Herr; much concerned in the French projects of our Edward Longshanks: miles stipendiarius Eduardi, as the Opposition party scornfully termed him. Slain in battle by the Anti-Kaiser, Albrecht or Albert eldest son of Rudolf, who thereupon became Kaiser. Albert I. (of Hapsburg, he), 1298-1308. Parricided, in that latter year, at the Ford of the Reuss. 2(a). Henry VII. of Luxemburg, 1308-1313; poisoned (1313) in sacramental wine. The first of the Luxemburgers; who are marked here, in their order, by the addition of an alphabetic letter. 3. Ludwig der Baier, 1314-1347 (Duke of OBER-BAIERN, Upper Bavaria; progenitor of the subsequent Kurfursts of Baiern, who are COUSINS of the Pfalz Family). 4(b). Karl IV., 1347-1378, Son of Johann of Bohemia (Johann ICH-DIEN), and Grandson of Henry VII. Nicknamed the PFAFFEN-KAISER (Parsons'-Kaiser). Karlsbad; the Golden Bull; Castle of Tangermunde. 5(c). Wenzel (or Wenceslaus), 1378-1400, Karl's eldest Son. Elected 1378, still very young; deposed in 1400, Kaiser Rupert succeeding. Continued King of Bohemia till his death (by Zisca AT SECOND-HAND) nineteen years after. Had been Kaiser for twenty-two years. 6. Rupert of the Pfalz, 1400-1410; called Rupert KLEMM (Pincers, Smith's-vice); Brother-in-law to Burggraf Friedrich VI. (afterwards Kurfurst Friedrich I.), who marched with him to Italy and often else-whither, Burggraf Johann the elder Brother-in-law being then oftenest in Hungary with Sigismund, Karl IV.'s second Son. 7(d). Sigismund, 1410-1437, Wenzel's younger Brother; the fourth and last of the Luxemburgers, seventh and last of the Intercalary Kaisers. Sold Brandenburg, after thrice or oftener pawning it. Sigismund SUPER-GRAMMATICAM.
Super-Grammaticam died 9th December, 1437; left only a Daughter, wedded to the then Albert Duke of Austria; which Albert, on the strength of this, came to the Kingship of Bohemia and of Hungary, as his Wife's inheritance, and to the Empire by election. Died thereupon in few months: "three crowns, Bohemia, Hungary, the Reich, in that one year, 1438," say the old Historians; "and then next year he quitted them all, for a fourth and more lasting crown, as is hoped." Kaiser Albert II., 1438-1439: After whom all are Hapsburgers,—excepting, if that is an exception, the unlucky Karl VII. alone (1742-1745), who descends from Ludwig the Baier.
ENDS VOLUME II