the voyage to India, and in 1600, the year in which the East India company was founded, they took possession of the island of St. Hele

The Hanseatic league, now fast sinking into decay, complained loudly of the encouragement given by the English government to its native merchants, and prohibited the English from trading in Germany; but this unwise attempt to enforce monopoly produced measures of retaliation that speedily proved fatal to their privileges and their power. During Elizabeth's reign, England attained the highest rank among European states, and may be said to have held the balance of power in Christendom; that this was owing, in no small degree, to the personal character of the sovereign, is manifest from the rapid decline of British influence, when the sceptre passed to the feeble house of Stuart.

SECTION IX.-The Age of Gustavus Adolphus. From the death of Charles V. to the accession of Ferdinand II., there were few events in German history that produced any important result in the general politics of Europe. Ferdinand I. and his son Maximilian II. were sincerely attached to peace, and Rudolph II. was willing to leave the world in quiet, if the world would have left him undisturbed. From the time of his accession (1. D. 1576), Rudolph's great anxiety was to unite the Germanic princes in a firm league against the Turks; but theological discussions, united with political ambition, SO* d to prepare the way for fresh convulsions. The iníluence of the J its in the imperial court so alarmed the protestants, that they food a new alliance, called “ The Evangelical Union," of which the elector-palatine was declared the chief (A. D. 1609), and this was opposed by a catholic league, in which foreign as well as German princes were joined. In this unsettled state of affairs, the competition for succession to a small principality had nearly involved Europe in a general war. Henry IV. of France, after having secured himself on the throne, intrusted the chief management of his affairs to the duke of Sully, under whose wise administration the finances were so improved, and the strength of the kingdom so consolidated, that France began to take the lead in European policy. Henry had formed a great scheme for making all Christendom a federate republic, in which the rights and independence of the several states should be firmly secured.

A more immediate project was the humiliation of the house of Austria, whose increasing power in Germany and Spain was deemed dangerous to all the surrounding countries. The vacancy in the dutchies of Cleves and Juliers, which, on the death of the duke without male heirs, had been seized by the emperor as lapsed fiefs, gave Henry a pretext for interfering in the affairs of Germany; he formed alliances with several of his neighbors, and especially with the king of England and the Italian princes. But while preparing to assist at the coronation of his queen, Mary de Medicis, he was stabbed by a fanatic, named Ravaillac (A. D. 1610), and the disturbances that ensued prevented the French from making further exertions in Germany. The dissensions in the Austrian family contributed to avert a general war. Rudolph was gradually driven from his whole dominions by his brother Matthias ; deserted by his ancient partisans, he became melancholy and distrustful, shutting himself up in his palace, where grief and want of exercise soon produced a mortal disease, which brought him prematurely to the grave (A. D. 1611).

Matthias succeeded to the imperial crown, and though he had been previously befriended by the protestants, he threw himself into the arms of the catholic party, and thus increased the dissatisfaction which had led to the evangelical union; he procured the crown of Bohemia for his cousin Ferdinand, archduke of Gratz, and this bigoted monarch soon forced his protestant subjects to revolt. While the war was yet in progress, Matthias died, and Ferdinand, to the great alarm of the protestant party, was elected emperor (A. D. 1619). Ferdinand entered into close alliance with the Spanish branch of the house of Hapsburgh, but this family compact was not so ormidable as it had been heretofore. The union of the crown of Portugal to that of Spain had not added much real strength to Philip II. ; the Portuguese hated the Spaniards, especially as they were compelled to abandon their lucrative commerce with the revolted Hollanders, and were finally deprived of the greater part of their Indian colonies by the successful republicans. The defeat of the armada, followed by these colonial losses, rendered the reign of Philip II. calamitous to the peninsula ; but on his death (A. D. 1598) it was destined to suffer still greater losses from the bigotry of his successor. Philip III. expelled the Moriscoes or Moors, who had remained in the peninsula after the overthrow of the last Mohammedan dynasty, and thus deprived himself of the services of more than a million of his most industrious subjects (A. D. 1610). He intrusted the administration of the kingdom to favorites, chosen without discrimination, and made the custom of governing by ministers a maxim of

On his death (A. D. 1621), Spain, though still respected and even feared, was in reality deplorably weak; but the reign of Philip IV. almost completed its ruin ; the Catalans revolted, and placed themselves under the protection of France; the Portuguese, choosing for their monarch the duke of Braganza, achieved their independence (A. D. 1640), and the Neapolitans, harassed by the premier, the countduke of Olivarez, attempted to form a republic.

These events were not foreseen when Ferdinand became emperor. The Bohemian protestants, dreading his bigotry, chose Frederis, the elector-palatine, son-in-law of the British monarch, for their sovereign, and in an evil hour for himself, Frederic assumed the royal title. James I. was a monarch of much learning and little wisdom ; the natural timidity of his disposition, and his anxiety to secure the hand of a Spanish princess for his son, induced him to observe a neutrality in this dispute, contrary to the ardent wishes of his subjects. Duped by vanity, he believed himself a consummate master of diplomacy, and entered into a series of negotiations, which only showed his weakness, and rendered him contemptible in the eyes of Europe. Deserted by his father-in-law, and by many of the protestant princes, on whose assistance he relied, the elector-palatine lost not only Bohemia, but his hereditary dominions, which were shared by his enemies (A. D. 1623).

Circumstances, in the meantime, had occurred to change the neutral policy of England. The young prince Charles, accompanied by his favorite, the duke of Buckingham, had made a romantic journey to


Madrid, which, contrary to general expectation, led to the breaking off of the Spanish match. The discovery of a conspiracy for blowing up the British king and parliament with gunpowder (A. D. 1605), inflamed the English nation against the catholics, because the plot had been devised by some fanatics of that religion, who hoped in the confusion that must have ensued, to restore the supremacy of their church. Finally, Count Mansfelt, the ablest of the protestant leaders, succeeded in convincing James that he had been egregiously duped by the Spaniards. A new protestant union was formed, of which Christian IV., king of Denmark, was chosen the head, and the war burst forth with fresh violence. The imperial generals, Tilly and Wallenstein, were far superior to their protestant adversaries. Wallenstein, having been created duke of Friedland and chief commander of the imperial army raised by himself, acted with so much vigor, that Christian, threatened with the loss of his own dominions, was forced to purchase peace by renouncing all right to interfere in the affairs of Germany, and abandoning his allies, especially the dukes of Mecklenburg (A. D. 1629). Wallenstein obtained the investitute of Mecklenburg, and claimed henceforth a rank among the princes of the empire.

England had borne little share in this arduous contest. On the death of James (A. D. 1625), his son Charles I. ascended the British throne, and was almost immediately involved in a contest with his parliament, which effectually diverted his attention from foreign affairs. 'The principal causes of this were the growing love of liberty in the English people; the suspicions of danger to religion from the king's marriage with so bigoted a catholic as the princess Henrietta Maria, of France ; the unpopularity of Buckingham, the royal favorite ; and the increasing hostility of the puritans to the episcopal form of church government. The troubles and distractions by which France was weakened during the minority and the early part of the reign of Louis XIII. began to disappear when Cardinal Richelieu was placed at the head of the administration. His great talents and singular firmness acquired for his country a new and vigorous influence in the political system of Europe, at the very moment when a counterpoise was most wanting to the overgrown power of the house of Austria.

Richelieu's first operations were directed against the Huguenots, whom he completely subdued and rendered utterly helpless by the capture of Rochelle. Scarcely had the reduction of this important city been effected, when the cardinal commenced his war against Austria by endeavoring to secure the dutchy of Mantua for the duke of Nevers, in opposition to the emperor, the king of Spain, and the duke of Savoy. The war was terminated by the treaty of Chierasio (A. D. 1631), which destroyed the Spanish supremacy in Italy, restored the old influence of France, and gave that power possession of several of the most important fortresses on the frontiers. But far more important was the share which Richelieu had in renewing the war in Germany, and bringing forward a protestant leader, able and willing to cope with the imperial generals.

During the war of the Mantuan succession, the emperor Ferdinand published an edict at Vienna, commanding the protestants to restore all the ecclesiastical benefices of which they had taken possession since the treaty of Passau. Some submitted, others remonstrated ; imperial


commissioners were sent to decide on the claims of the bishops and monks to restitution ; the execution of the decree was intrusted to Wallenstein, who acted with so much rigor that the protestants were inflamed with just rage, and even the catholics joined in demanding justice against him from the emperor. So great was the clamor, that the emperor was forced to dismiss his general, and conser the command of the imperial army upon Count Tilly. Scarcely had this important step been taken, when Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, secretly urged by some of the discontented protestant princes, published a declaration of war against the emperor, and after having captured the important island of Rugen, landed in Germany (June 24, 1630). An alliance was formed between the king and the leading protestant princes of Pomerania, Brandenburg, and Hesse ; Saxony, after some efforts to preserve neutrality, was forced to accede to the league ; and Richelieu, who had no small share in forming the original plan, secured for the confederates the active co-operation of France. The early successes of Gustavus would have been more decisive but for the jealousy of the Saxon princes, who prevented his passage through their dominions, and thus hindered him from relieving the city of Magdeburg, hard pressed by Count Tilly and the imperial forces. The unfortunate city was finally taken by assault; the cruel Tilly would show no mercy, thirty thousand of the inhabitants perished by water, fire, and sword; and of this once flourishing city nothing was left standing except the cathedral and about one hundred and fifty fishing huts on the banks of the Elbe.

This atrocious cruelty cemented the alliance between Gustavus and the protestant princes; the elector of Saxony, justly alarmed by the fate of his neighbors, and irritated by the menaces of Tilly, whoin his recent success had filled with presumptuous pride, joined the king with all his forces at Wittemburg. A resolution to try the chances of battle was taken ; and at Leipsic the imperialists were so decisively overthrown, that if Gustavus had marched immediately to Vienna, that city would probably have fallen. All the members of the evangelical union joined the king of Sweden ; the measures of the catholic confederates were disconcerted, and the whole country between the Elbe and the Rhine was occupied by the protestant forces. Early in the following year Count Tilly was killed in disputing with the Swedes the passage of the Lech, and Gustavus overrun Bavaria.

The emperor, in his distress, had recourse to Wallenstein, who was restored to command with unlimited powers.

Gustavus attacked the imperialists in their intrenchments at Nuremberg, and was defeated with some loss; but, anxious to retrieve his fame, he sought an early opportunity of bringing his rival to a second engagement. Tre armies met at Lutzen (Nov. 16, 1632), the confederates attacked the imperialists in their intrenchments, and after a dreadful contest, that lasted nine hours, put them completely to the rout. But the victors had little cause to triumph; Gustavus fell, mortally wounded, in the middle of the engagement, and died before the fortune of the day was decided. His death produced great changes in the political state of Europe. The elector-palatine, believing all his hopes of restoration blighted, died of a broken heart; the protestant confederates, deprived of a head, were divided into factions; while the Swedes, overwhelmed with sorrow, saw the throne of their heroic prince occupied by a girl only seven years old. But the council of regency, appointed to pre tect the minority of the young queen Christina, intrusted the management of the German war to the Chanceller Oxenstiern, a statesman of the highest order ; under his guidance, the protestant alliance again assumed a formidable aspect, and hostilities were prosecuted with vigor and success by the duke of Saxe Weimar and the generals Banier and Horn. An unexpected event added to their confidence; Ferdinand became jealous of Wallenstein, and suspected him, not without cause, of aiming at sovereign power. The emperor was too timid to bring this powerful leader to a legal trial; he, therefore, had recourse to the dishonorable expedient of assassination (A. D. 1634), and Wallenstein was inurdered in his own camp.

The confederates did not gain all the advantages they anticipated from the fall of the duke of Friedland ; the emperor's eldest son, the king of Hungary, having succeeded to the command, gained several advantages, and twenty thousand Spaniards arrived in Germany to the aid of the imperialists, under the duke of Feria. The protestant leaders, anxious to stop the progress of the king of Hungary, attacked him at Nordlingen. The battle was one of the most obstinate recorded in history ; it ended in the complete rout of the confederates, notwithstanding the most vigorous efforts of the Swedes. The emperor improved his victory by negotiation ; he concluded a treaty with all the protestant princes, except the landgrave of Hesse, at Prague (A. D. 1635), and thus the whole weight of the war was thrown on the French and the Swedes.

SECTION X.-Administration of the Cardinals Richelicu and Mazarine.

Richelieu ruled France with a rod of iron; hated alike by the nobili ty and the people, he continued to hold the reins of government, and all conspiracies formed against him ended in the ruin of the contrivers. Jealousy of Gustavus prevented him from cordially co-operating with that prince, and Oxenstiern afterward was unwilling to give the French any influence in Germany. But the battle of Nordlingen rendered a change nf policy necessary, and the Swedish chancellor offered to put the French in immediate possession of Philipsburg and the province of Alsace, en condition of their taking an active share in the war against the emperor.

Richelieu readily entered into a treaty so favorable to his projects for humbling the house of Austria. He concluded treaties with the Dutch republic and the duke of Savoy, proclaimed war against Spain, and in a very short space equipped five armies to act at once in Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. The balance now turned against the imperialists; the duke of Saxe Weimar proved a worthy successor to the king of Sweden, and Banier restored the lustre of the Swedish arms by the victory he gained over the elector of Saxony at Wislock. The death of the emperor Ferdinand II. (A. D. 1637), and the accession of his son Ferdinand III., made little alteration in the state of the war; the victorious leaders of the confederates invaded the hereditary dominions of Austria, but in the midst of their triumphant career, the duke of Saxe Weimar fell a victim to poison (A. D. 1639), said to have been administered by an emissary of Richelieu, for the cardinal had reason

« ElőzőTovább »