George Calixtus -- By: Charles Marsh Mead
BSac 22:86 (April 1865) p. 315
The first half of the seventeenth century was a period fruitful of abiding influence on the succeeding condition of Germany. The treaty of 1555, which conceded to the several states the management of their own ecclesiastical affairs — a concession of which the Protestants did, but the Roman Catholics did not, avail themselves — secured, indeed,
BSac 22:86 (April 1865) p. 316
a temporary quiet; but the storm was only postponed, not averted. The immediate danger of a violent struggle between the two sections of the church passed away; but Germany lost in unity what the Protestants gained in immunity. The process of dissolution was further promoted by the incessant bickerings and conflicting claims of rival princes, more bitterly prosecuted now than ever before, because difference of religious belief was often added to the lust for power, and the decisions of the emperors themselves, not seldom determined by religious considerations more than by regard for inherent right, irritated more than they soothed. Above all, these tendencies to dissolution were busily and cunningly fostered by the other European powers. And finally, to all other causes at work was added the bitterness of opposition between the Lutheran and Reformed churches. Encouraged by the check which these intestine quarrels had put to the progress of the Reformation, itself awakened into a new life and freed from many of its worst failings, the papal church, acting more or less in concert with the German emperors, aspired to reconquer the lost ground. At the diet of 1608 the archduke Ferdinand, a Hannibal among the Jesuits, violating the wishes of the more pacific emperor Rudolph II., whom he there represented, secured the enactment of measures which impelled the Protestants to leave the diet and form a Union, headed by the Palatinate, while the Catholics formed the League, under the lead of the duke of Bavaria, a prince devoted to the emperor, but still more to Catholicism, and most of all to himself. The more remote result of the breach was the Thirty Years’ War, whose movements seemed to be dictated by no plan and to promise no result except to subject Germany to the devastations of the armies of Wallenstein, Pappenheim, Tilly, and Gustavus Adolphus; the various changes depending on the varying policy of the discordant princes, each too weak to rely on himself, and hence leaning on the emperor, the king of Sweden, or the king of Prance, according as caprice, the chances of war, the prospects of per-
BSac 22:86 (April 1865) p. 317
sonal aggrandizement, or the influence of religious convictions held sway. To the people, if not to the rulers, it was a ...
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