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VENEDEY'S HISTORY OF THE GERMAN NATION."

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One of the acknowledged wants of the day, and one which we are afraid it must be left to the coming man, or Mr. Macaulay's New Zealander, to satisfy, is a fair and impartial history of Germany, describing the rise and fall of the empire without arrière pensée or clannish spirit. It is not from the lack of attempts which have been made from time to time in every possible tone and tendency-reactionary, republican, national, and partisan. But can the most sincere admirer of German literature allow that he has yet come across an impartial history of Germany, enabling him to decide as to the causes which have led to the present abject condition of Germany, when compared with the glories of the middle ages? In default of this desirable consummation we are forced to put up with such fare as German littérateurs periodically dispense to us, and from this point of view we have no hesitation in asserting that Mr. Venedey's history, of which two volumes have already appeared, and which is evidently a labour of love to him, is one of the completest works which the German student can consult, if he desire to make himself practically acquainted with the history of a kindred people.

But the great charm, to our minds, which Venedey's work possesses, is that he sedulously avoids those laboured disquisitions about nothing to which the Teutonic mind is so predisposed, and contents himself with describing, in a lively and readable form, the various events of German history which have had an influence on its destiny. And it is a subject deserving serious consideration, when we reflect that the Germanic tribes were destined, under Providence, to fill up the gap occasioned by the dissolution of the Roman Empire. Two objects

, however, had to be ful.

, filled—namely, the regeneration of the nations composing the Roman Empire, and, at the same time, the self-preservation of the German nationality. This regeneration the East German migratory tribes had pre-eminently undertaken, and fulfilled their mission, in a great measure, in the kingdoms they had conquered. The destruction of Rome, the repulsion of the Huns into Asia, and of the Saracens to Africa, were the first successes of the Germanic race, and they were sufficient to prove the youthful energy of the Teutonic element. At the same time, Italy, Spain, France, England, and from England a new world, were regenerated by the Germans and their descendants. The mission of preserving and fostering Germanity was rather the property of the Western Germans ; and one of the Teutonic tribes—the Anglo-Saxons has been enabled to maintain the vigour of the German race in its entirety until now, and has even been enabled to transfer it to a new world. In fact, the whole past of Europe is so closely connected with that of the Germans, that it is impossible to write any history without referring pre-eminently to the distinguished part the Teutons have played in the history of our own country and that of the affiliated nations.

And, of a truth, the history of Germany is one of the finest romances

* Geschichte des Deutschen Volkes von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart. Von Jacob Venedey. Vols. I. and II. Berlin: Franz Duncker.

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to which the curious student can refer. He will find in it the perfectness of chivalry, the most interesting details of the mutual relations of lord and vassal, and the most curious description of the intrigues which eventually led to the practical dissolution of the Germanic Empire. The extraordinary change which has come over the condition of the German Empire, from the period when the emperor first displayed his weakness in yielding to the pretentious claims of the higher nobility, and granting them fiefs which were a direct encroachment upon his prerogative, is most suggestive, and should serve as a warning to every potentate who has a large empire to administrate.

The sudden alteration in the condition of Germany is, however, fully deserving attention, and it is worth while inquiring how it occurred that a nation once so great has ended by becoming so small. The gradual increase of the higher dukes in power and authority could not, of course, escape

the notice of the emperor, and the discontent of the nation should have drawn his attention to the danger he was incurring by allowing the dukes to render themselves independent at his expense

. The condition of the German nation was beginning to grow anomalous at the time when the dukes commenced becoming powerful, and the result was that the emperor, hopeless of success in any attempt at subduing the dukes, and at the same time keeping in check a nation rent asunder by internal faction, ended by allowing himself to be regarded as a puppet, and contented himself with the nominal authority which the title gave him.

The greatest blow given to the imperial authority was that which the Emperor Barbarossa produced. Although the most autocratic of monarchs, from his very autocracy he sapped his own power. Rendered furious by the opposition of the Milanese, and determined on checking the rebellion, he drove his army into Italy. After repeated attempts to check the rebels, in which his

like mist before the sun, the dukes, when tired of war, quietly went home for the winter, perfectly prepared, if they had no better engagement, to return again with the swallows. But while nominally obeying the emperor-for none dared resist his iinpetuous order —they were the while consolidating their power at home; and when the pressure was taken off them by the death of the great hero, they enforced their claims on his weaker successor, and ended by becoming de facto independent, although all the while most faithful vassals of the holy Roman Empire. The character of Frederick Barbarossa has been very variously judged. While one party claim him as the king by divine right, and the greatest Imperator Germany ever saw, others are equally severe, and aver that the Emperor Frederick was the harshest tyrant that any age ever produced. The latter party argue that the pertinacious attempts to check the liberty of the Italians were merely the insulting displeasure of a great king, who denied that laws were made for him, and thought any opposition was the greatest crime which a subject could commit. of the opinion that much may be said on both sides, and are inclined to coincide with our author in the credit he gives to his august emperor. He has evidently come to the conclusion that the heroes of the middle ages are not to be judged by the criterion of the present day; and, this allowed, Frederick Barbarossa was indubitably a very great man, and much in advance of his age. The far-sighted policy which induced him to protest against the authority of the pontiff is deserving of all praise, and it is to be regretted that his successors, blinded by bigotry, had not sufficient courage to display the same resolute conduct.

army melted away

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The struggle which went on between the Pope and the Emperor of Germany was an interesting one for the fate of nations; and the part the Germans played, for a while at least, most meritorious. The cause of ire was very simple as it stood: it was, whether the Emperor of the Romans was elected purely by the will of the people, or required the papal exequatur before he could enter on his functions. The emperors very naturally asserted the popular question, and for years on years successfully resisted the arrogant pretensions of the Pope. Even in those benighted days it was regarded as an absurdity that the lord of a great nation should hold his empire as a fief from the spiritual lord of Christendom : the German people had never been delivered over, bound hand and foot, to the mercies of the Catholic Church, and the Guilds strenuously resisted the encroachment on their privileges. They felt that the imperial power depended on their firm co-operation, and stood firmly to their rights without granting an inch of liberty to the representatives of the papal power. Such a state of things could not last long, and the Pope, though repeatedly held back by the secular arm, found a resource in the fearful punishment of the interdict.

But even here the sturdy Bürgers would not give way; their religion was a great feature, but their allegiance was more, and they determined that, though the Pope was their spiritual master, they had a proper regard for temporalities; and, while fearing God, honoured their king. The natural, result was that the townsmen, originally despised and treated contemptuously, became the finest element of the Germanic

power ;

and the institution of the Hanse Towns soon proved what power these men possessed. They were true to their rightful liege, and no persuasions would induce them to open their gates to a pretender : they went on a common-sense principle, in perfect obedience to the laws, and faithfully served their master by granting him protection, and, what was still more valuable, subsidies. But when they found that their allegiance only led them more closely into connexion with the papal chair, whose prerogative their forefathers had been taught to deride, and whose encroachments, by a feeling of self-defence, they repelled, they decided on establishing themselves in an independent position, and crying the war challenge, - Gare qui touche !

For a long while the struggle went on between Pope and Kaiser, until the Man of Men appeared in the person of Hildebrand, who made all people, no matter their pride or their descent, his obedient vassals. He bowed the power of the mighty Emperor of Germany: he proved that the Pope of Rome was master of the world—as will be seen from the following extract:

When Henry crossed the Alps, Gregory was just arrived in Upper Italy on his road to Germany. On hearing of Henry's arrival, Gregory retired to Canossa. Gregory's companions were Mathilde; Adelaide, Margravine of Susa, Henry's mother-in-law; Amadeus, her son; Azo d'Este; and the Abbot Hugo de Clugny. Adelaide and Amadeus had taken Henry prisoner on his passage of the Alps, and forced him, before obtaining his release, to yield to them a portion of the imperial lands in Burgundy. "It is probable that Henry, with this cession, stipulated on the intervention of the Margravine of Susa with Gregory. She hastened immediately to the Pope, for she had now a very immediate interest to see Henry liberated from the ban, as the countries he had given up were far securer to her if Henry remained king than if he were deposed. The Margrave d'Este had advised Henry to proceed to Italy. Hugo de Clugny was not quite satisfied with Gregory's conduct, as will be seen from his letters. It was a long time before Hugo could be induced to visit Rome, although Gregory invited him most earnestly. In a letter of 22nd of January, 1074, Gregory utters the veiled reproach against Hugo, that “whosoever loves St. Peter, should not prefer secular princes to him.” Henry could almost. surely depend on the support of Adelaide and Amadeus de Susa at Canossa: he might bave reasons, too, to believe that he would be supported by his grandson Hugo de Clugny; and hence it may be explained why, instead of trusting to the unexpected assistance he found in Upper Italy, he preferred going to Canossa to form a reconciliation with Gregory; and by being liberated from the interdict, deprive the German princes of the sharpest weapon they wielded against him.

At first Gregory declined to enter into any personal communication with Henry. Gregory desired to sit in judgment upon Henry at the Diet in Germany; and might apprehend that any humiliation and penance, although satisfying the pride of papacy, might thwart his allies in Germany, the secular and clerical princes, who desired Henry's deposition. On this account he replied, that the trial of an accused, whom he had laid under the interdict in his absence, according to the clerical law, could only be carried on when the accuser was present. But when the Margravine and Hugo de Clugny pressed. him, he replied, “ that if Henry repented his crimes, and would deliver to him crown and sceptre, while declaring himself for ever unworthy the royal name and office," he would liberate him from the interdict, and receive him once more into the bosom of the Church. Henry's mediators proved to Gregory the impossibility of such conditions, and pressed him, until he at last assented that Henry might come to Canossa, and there do penance for his sins against the Pope.

Thus Henry came. After passing through the gate of the castle, the door was closed behind him, and he was separated from his escort. Henry was then obliged to lay aside his clothes, and put on a woollen penitential garb. He was then suffered to pass through the second gate. But the main door of the castle still remained closed. Gregory suffered Henry to remain three days and three nights barefooted, in a sheet of penance, and fasting, while exposed to the intense winter's cold, patiently awaiting entrance to the Pope. What took place in the mean while within, is unknown; so much is certain, that at last Hugo de Clugny made every offer to induce Mathilde to employ her whole influence with Gregory to terminate the penance. At length Gregory yielded, and Henry appeared before him, to be liberated from the interdict, under conditions meant to bind him down more closely than ever.

After the negotiation had been completed, Henry was liberated from the interdict, and the mass was celebrated. Before the holy como munion Gregory summoned Henry and all persons present to the altar, informed him of the accusations brought against him at the Synod of Worms, and declared them to be false. He then broke the Host in two, and swallowed the one half, with the expression that God might punish him with death on the spot, if the accusations were founded on truth. The other half he offered to Henry, and challenged him to swallow it as a proof that the accusations the German princes and bishops had brought against him were unfounded. Henry recoiled, and refused to accept the divine ordeal.

Those were glorious days for papal prerogative; and if kings governed

de jure divino, God's vicegerent on earth proved himself a most autocratic master. What a comfort it is to reflect, that with the progress of civilisation so great a change has occurred, and that the Pope is tied down by many bonds' to good behaviour, while his throne is supported by French bayonets, for fear it may collapse, and bury him with his system beneath the ruins. But at the time of which we write, popes were established institutions, and governed the world by bulls, which were much in the habit of running-a-muck, and spreading confusion wherever they made their appearance. Legates à latere were as impudent as their master, and faithfully carried out the instructions they received. Fortunately for the world, their zeal outran their discretion, and the popes were fair prototypes of the Bourbons, in learning nothing and forgetting nothing. The natural result supervened, and the world was liberated from a thraldom surpassing in its pretentious absurdity the craziest fetish dream of the untutored savage. What the result of the blessed change has been we need not stop to elaborate : let the reader, if he have any doubt on the subject, compare the state of Protestant England with that of Catholic Italy, and he will be compelled to confess, even if he be Cardinal Wiseman himself , that, as far as progress is concern

erned, the balance is decidedly in favour of the schismatic. But why trouble the reader with our remarks when we can quote the words of our historian :

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The portrait of Gregory is one of the greatest which the world's history can produce. His struggle bears such a brilliant character, that its very

brilliancy is reflected on Gregory, and makes him appear in a halo of glory. In the name of Divinity he opposed humanity; with the word of Christ he bore down the sword of the potentates of this earth.

But, although the portrait of Gregory appears so brilliant when regarding him as a champion in the name of God, fighting with the power of the Word, still it assumes a gloomy, colour when regarded from the broad view of humanity and Christianity, of divine love and charity. It is true that Gregory combated in the name of God, but the object of his struggle was human dominion; he certainly spoke in the name of that love which Christ had taught, but this name concealed the most terrible arrogance, opposed to the dearest interests of humanity: with the words of Christ's divine teaching on his lips he cast the firebrand of discord into the world: with the holy truths of fidelity and justice incessantly his motto, he pandered in the name of Deity to lying, deception, and brute force.

To ecclesiastic reform the road was paved : Henry III. had trodden on the head of the hydra of simony: the German popes had rendered the purity of the clergy a necessity of the Church : the whole world had been drawn to a deep religious feeling by the teaching of the monks of Cluny-all this was for Gregory merely a preparatory process-a means to attain his higher object, the domination of the world by the Pope.

The teaching of the Church, the dogmas and ecclesiastical laws, were to him mere extraneous objects-dominion was his intense desire. In the great struggle which Berengarius of Tours had to undergo, Gregory was at the outset on the side of this defender of a more spiritual comprehension of the doctrine of the Sacrament. At the Council of Tours (1055), at which Gregory presided as legate of Pope Leo IX., he so openly accepted Berengarius's views, that at a later date the reproach was cast upon him that he had participated in his heresy: On being chosen as pope, he suffered Berengarius to publish a profession of faith in 1078, which he was enabled to sign, because he was not compelled to believe in substantial” transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the

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