A. German Conciliarism (1378-1450)







    Emperor Wenceslas (1378-1419) , elder son of Charles IV and third member of the Luxemburg dynasty to attain the imperial crown, succeeded his father in November, 1378. At first he continued Emperor Charles IV’s policy: he not only acknowledged Urban VI, but tried to win subjects for the Roman obedience through imperial decrees and diplomatic notes to other rulers. Wenceslas’s policy during his early years was in large part inspired by Johann von Jenstein, archbishop of Prague from 1379 to 1396, an ardent supporter of the Roman claims. But Wenceslas himself was a drunken brute whose regime came to be despised by his subjects. Once freed from Jenstein’s tutelage, Wenceslas succumbed to the repudiation proposals of the University of Paris, and offered himself as mediator to decide the fate of the papal claimants. German adherents of Rome practically terminated Wenceslas’s rule in Germany by choosing Rupert of the Palatinate as antiking in 1400. After Rupert’s death in 1410, Wenceslas delegated imperial authority to his younger brother Sigismund and returned to Bohemia where he died in 1419.

    Emperor Sigismund (1410-37) , though technically not emperor until his brother’s death and not actually crowned before 1433, entered upon effective exercise of the imperial authority with his selection as king of the Romans in 1410. In contrast to his brother, Sigismund was a man of high principles and sincere devotion to the Church. Possessed of great personal magnetism and diplomatic tact, he employed these qualities in many thorny Church-state relationships. In regard to the Great Western Schism, it has already been seen that he succeeded fairly well. Though King Sigismund in good faith entertained the conciliarist theory, he made but moderate use of it and restrained the excesses of its advocates. At Constance and even more so at Basle, Sigismund strove to harmonize rather than oppose papacy and council. His communications to the [p. 37] Synod of Basle reveal a farsighted appreciation of the need of reform in the Church in Germany, and of the necessity of co-operation instead of rivalry between the traditional “two swords.” If Sigismund, like Charles V during the sixteenth century, was not free from Caesaropapism, he was nonetheless a staunch Catholic. While mixing politics with religion, in the last analysis he was fully prepared to sacrifice the former to the latter. But his success in disciplining Frederick of the Tyrol for defying the Council of Constance ought not give a false impression of the imperial power. Except when backed by the moral support of Christendom the emperor had influence and prestige rather than real power. Sigismund could do little to repair weakened monarchical authority in the face of the now inveterate custom of princely autonomy. When the great fief of Brandenburg escheated in 1373, his father had bestowed it upon Sigismund, but in 1415 the king repaid an election debt by leasing it out again to Frederick of Hohenzollern, thus founding that family’s five centuries of influence in northern Germany. Finally, Emperor Sigismund was the last male of his dynasty, and his hereditary lands, along with the hand of his daughter Elizabeth, passed to Duke Albert V of Austria.






    Emperor Albert II (1438-39) . Duke Albert was thus marked out as a candidate for the imperial throne to which, in fact, he was elected in February, 1438. His accession began the uninterrupted tenure of the imperial throne by Habsburgs from 1438 to 1740. In conjunction with the electors, Albert at once announced a “neutrality policy” in regard to the respective claims of Pope Eugene IV and the Synod of Basle. This program, as definitively formulated the next year in the Deliberation of Mainz, regulated papal-imperial relations for a decade. German princes, both clerical and lay, then professed to revere both papal and conciliar authority; in reality they disregarded the commands of both. Though Albert seems to have been personally inclined to espouse the conciliar cause, the lords and prelates were resolved to make capital of the situation by extorting political, ecclesiastical, and financial concessions from the Holy See. These divided counsels reveal the weakness of German bargaining power in treating with the papal curia, for the emperor could adopt no clear-cut stand for Germany as a whole. Behind this façade of neutrality, however, individual princes and prelates negotiated with either or both sides. Albert was a blunt, soldierly man, lacking Sigismund’s finesse; in any case, his premature death in October, 1439, allowed him little time to settle anything.

    Emperor Frederick III (1440-93) . Though Austria went by hereditary right to Albert’s posthumous son Ladislas, the German imperial  [p. 38] electors in February, 1440, chose Albert’s cousin, Duke Frederick of Styria. Frederick was an indolent, laissez-faire ruler, of whom all that can be said is that somehow he “muddled through” a half century of reign. Yet the eventual success of the Habsburg dynastic marriages initiated by him may indicate that perhaps Frederick was not so muddleheaded after all. The new emperor ratified the existing neutrality policy, which remained unaltered for two years. In 1442 he bestirred himself to the extent of suggesting convocation of a third council on German soil to which both papal and conciliar partisans might rally. Pope Eugene pointed out that the only true council was that of Florence; if the Germans must needs have a council, let them come to Rome whither the peripatetic synod of Basle-Ferrara-Florence-Lateran had come to rest. This was too drastic for Frederick, who sent to Basle to sound out Felix V and the conciliarists. Both gave empty promises, and all that Frederick obtained was a new secretary, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini. By 1443 Aeneas had made his peace with Eugene IV, and two years later won over the emperor to papal allegiance. The pope, mistaking Frederick for a ruler whose will was law, now sought to prod his German subjects into submission by excommunicating and deposing the chief adherents of Basle, the archbishops of Trier and Cologne. Instead these defied him and the magnates rallied to their defense, demanding a new council with explicit recognition of conciliarism. The pope reverted to diplomacy and through Aeneas Silvius won over sixty princes to new discussions. These finally made their submission to Eugene IV in February, 1447. Eugene’s successor, Pope Nicholas V, completed the pacification of Germany in 1448 by concluding the Concordat of Vienna which substantially renewed the provisions of the Concordat of Constance. Once again the Holy See evaded the conciliar theory: future councils were promised—but never held; minor changes in curial procedure were made. With the submission of Archbishop Jacob of Trier during the Holy Year of 1450 German participation in the Basle schism was over.




B. The Eve of Lutheranism (1450-1519)




  (1) ERA OF DRIFT (1450-93 )


   Frederick III (1440-93) has already been introduced. Placid and physically inactive, he seemed the parody of a ruler. Most of the time he remained in Austria without attempting to use what imperial prerogatives remained to him. Meanwhile the Swiss cemented their autonomy and magnates resorted to private feuds. For nearly five years (1485-90) Matthias of Hungary occupied Austria itself while the emperor patiently begged his way from one monastery to another. But  [p. 39] he regained Austria on his rival’s death, secured the election of his son Maximilian as king of the Romans, thwarted the royal ambitions of Charles the Rash of Burgundy, and finally won the Burgundian inheritance for the Habsburgs by marrying his son Max to Charles’s daughter Mary. When the king of the Romans was captured while taking possession of his wife’s inheritance, Frederick—mirabile dictu mobilized imperial forces and extricated him. Frederick professed himself a conciliarist, but whenever the question of actually holding a council was raised, papal concessions of patronage were enough to induce him to forget the need of a council. Great reforms could not be expected from such a monarch.

    Cusan legation. In 1450, however, Pope Nicholas V had named Nicholas Krebs of Cusa the first German cardinal in two centuries and sent him as his legate to Germany. Cardinal Nicholas, a former conciliarist, was now entirely devoted to the Holy See. Between 1451 and 1453 he presided over provincial or diocesan councils throughout nearly the whole of Germany. In each of these assemblies he strove to promote unity by urging inclusion in the Mass of a prayer for the pope, the bishop, and the universal Church. His other consistent objectives were to renew both clerical and monastic discipline, and to mitigate conflict between the secular and regular clergy. Simultaneously St. John Capistrano, despite his ignorance of German, was attracting attention in southern Germany by his earnest sermons and his miracles. A great revival of fervor seemed to have been effected, and shortly after (1455) the new German presses began to print the Scriptures and devotional books.

    Dregs of conciliarism. Doubtless many individuals were made stronger in the Faith by these zealous visitors. But that the princes, clerical and lay, had not reformed was soon painfully evident. While seeking to put reform decrees into execution in his own see of Brixen, the cardinal was imprisoned by Sigismund of Tyrol, son of the old trouble-maker for Constance and Basle. Though the emperor eventually patched up a peace with the Holy See, the cardinal’s reforms lapsed in Brixen and he died in Italian exile. Simultaneously Diether von Isenburg refused to pay the annates for the see of Mainz to which he had been elected under suspicious circumstances—in 1459. Diether defied the excommunication by Pope Pius II, and won many princes to his demand for a national or a general council. Only in 1464 was Pius II able to detach Diether’s followers by shrewd diplomacy. Diether was expelled from Mainz, but in 1475 was re-elected and this time accepted by Sixtus IV to rule undisturbed until his death in 1482. Papal legates, including the eminent Cardinal Bessarion, received a cold reception in  [p. 40] Germany in trying to raise a crusading tithe, and almost every German assembly drew up a list of grievances against the Holy See—the German “papal persecution complex” had become chronic.




  (2) ERA OF FRUSTRATED REFORM (1493-1519)



Emperor Maximilian I (1493-1519 ) . Frederick III was succeeded by his son, the amazing Kaiser Max. The latter was an attractive character: chaste, handsome, chivalrous, athletic, and brave. He had all of Sigismund’s ideals and devotion to the Church, but lacked his prudence and sound judgment. Max was hailed as “last of the knights,” but it must be admitted that he was something of a Don Quixote. Plans, both good and chimerical—but always vast—he possessed in abundance; all that he lacked were the means to put these into execution. To do him justice, this was not mainly his own fault, but that of the princes. Max always kept trying; like Micawber, he felt that something would turn up, and something did—Lutheranism. At least Max was not self-deceived: he wrote the Epic of Teuerdank, starring himself as a knight of “glorious thoughts,” but futile deeds.

    Imperial reform projects. Maximilian had studied Nicholas of Cusa’s excellent analysis of the German constitution. The cardinal had declared that “the empire is attacked by a mortal sickness and is about to expire if a cure is not found.” The malady was diagnosed as the selfish regionalism of the princes, and their confiscation of ecclesiastical property; the remedy was held to lie in the strengthening of imperial authority. Beginning with the Diet of 1495, the emperor did strive to realize these proposals. He suggested such basic improvements as a “public peace” which would outlaw private warfare; a federal court of justice; a common advisory council; an imperial military force, and a “common penny,” a universally applied tax to support centralized government. Of these proposals, the one that alone found favor with the princes was that of the common council, but this they would have modified into a regency capable of checking the emperor in the exercise of his few surviving powers. Real reforms fell foul of the obstinate opposition of the magnates, headed by Archbishop Berthold of Mainz. Maximilian continued to urge reforms and in 1512 succeeded in organizing ten judicial circuits designed to substitute arbitration for private warfare. This measure did some good, but contributed little to centralized administration.

    Imperial military projects. The emperor could never afford a well-equipped army; hence his Italian campaigns were always failures. Unable to secure adequate protection even to reach Rome for imperial coronation, in 1508 he assumed the title of “emperor-elect,” in which action the Holy See eventually acquiesced. Yet in 1517 the aging emperor-elect was still hopefully assuring the Lateran Council that he  [p. 41] would be glad to lead a new crusade. Alas, he was usually a general without an army. Diplomatically, Maximilian fared better. He continued his father’s matrimonial alliances with such success that his own grandson Charles, born in 1500, was to inherit the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and win the imperial crown, in addition to Austria.

    Ecclesiastical policy. The emperor was deeply interested in the reform of the Church, but his projects were scarcely helpful. Advised by Bishop Lang of Gurk, he sought to bring pressure to bear on Julius II by dabbling in the Pisan conventicle of 1511. When the pope was reported mortally ill that year, Maximilian even entertained semiserious designs of mounting the apostolic chair. He asked his daughter Margaret: “What if your daddy were elected pope?” The Church was spared his services by Julius’s prompt recovery. Meanwhile Abbot Trithemius had indicated to Maximilian that the German hierarchy would not follow the Synod of Pisa into schism, and the emperor left the sinking rebel assembly for the firmer ground of the Lateran Council. Lang, named a cardinal after the reconciliation with the Holy See, sought from Leo X a permanent legation in Germany similar to that accorded Wolsey in England. Lang was refused, but a similar office was subsequently offered to Albert of Hohenzollern, the occasion of Luther’s Theses, in order to win his support from the Habsburgs in the imperial election of 1519—Albert refused the papal terms. Maximilian lived to observe the early maneuvers of Martin Luther with some complacency: “Perhaps we can use this little monk,” he is said to have remarked. Again he was to be disillusioned, but again too late.

    German condition. Thus Germany remained in an unfavorable condition on the eve of the Lutheran revolt. Imperial prerogatives were insufficiently defended against the “states’ rights” demands of the princes. German knights, losing their lands to these magnates, were restless, developing a nationalistic spirit that boded ill for German domestic tranquility. The cities were wealthy and sought political independence, but with luxury and wealth had come a moral decline. Landlords were seeking to reimpose serfdom and a social war was brewing. German Humanism was severely nationalistic and scientific, rather than classical and literary. Cusa’s indictment of philosophy as docta ignorantia was one of his less fortunate appraisals, which was shared by many earnest reformers. The hierarchy and the clergy were far from exemplary, and a sullen discontent smouldered against any monetary contributions to the Roman curia, even for the international objectives of the anti-Turkish crusade. Nationalism had been long in coming to Germany and had not yet produced political unity, but it had arrived at last with great vehemence and anti-Roman emotion. A revolt portended that would outdo that of Philip the Fair against Boniface VIII. For  [p. 42] alleged modern German regimentation seems to be the result of Lutheran pessimism and Prussian militarism; visitors to medieval Germany remarked on the independent and freedom-loving spirit of the Germans. Too individualistic to create a commonwealth for their own protection, the German princes yet were powerful to resist, to reject, and to frustrate. Largely theirs is the responsibility not only for the religious and political disruption of the German Reich, but for that of Christendom as well.





 St. Casimir, son of Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland



A. Polish Recovery (1305-1506)








    Ladislas the Short (1305-33) , a scion of the native Piast dynasty, had contended for the Polish crown since 1296, but was able to make headway only after the extinction of the Premsyld family which had subjected Poland to Bohemian rule. Ladislas then devoted himself to the task of reuniting the principalities into which Poland had been divided since 1138. For the most part he was successful, although he had to leave Pomerania and the Baltic coast for the time being in the hands of the Teutonic Knights. By 1320 Ladislas could symbolize reviving Polish unity by assuming the royal title with the sanction of Pope John XXII. During the conflict of the Holy See with Lewis of Bavaria, Ladislas accordingly gave moral support to the pope.

    Casimir III the Great (1333-70), Ladislas’s only son, continued his work. King Casimir especially devoted himself to the internal organization for which Ladislas’s restless activity had left little time. Polish law was codified, civil administration improved, the national defense organized, and urban and commercial life encouraged. In 1364 the first national university was founded at Cracow, henceforth a cultural center. With Archbishop Jaroslav of Gnesen, the king co-operated in a series of synods to revive ecclesiastical discipline. But Casimir was the last of the Piasts to rule over the whole of Poland, though junior branches continued to reign in various provinces.

    Louis the Great (1370-82), son of Casimir’s sister Elizabeth, succeeded to the Polish throne in virtue of Casimir’s last will. Already monarch of Hungary, Louis was prone to neglect Polish interests. In 1374, in order to secure the Polish crown for his daughter Jadwiga, Louis made the first of many royal concessions to the nobility by freeing their order from all but a nearly nominal tax.

    Jadwiga and Jagiello. Louis’s younger daughter Jadwiga, then, became queen of Poland (1382-99) at Louis’s death. At first under the regency of her grandmother, Jadwiga was induced in the interest of a greater Poland to accept as her husband Duke Jagiello of Lithuania. On [p. 43] the condition of his conversion to Christianity. After his baptism and marriage, Jagiello became king of Poland as well under the title of Ladislas V (1386-1434) . Until the formal merger of the two countries by the Union of Lublin (1569 ) , however, Poland and Lithuania retained their separate administrations while frequently sharing the same king. This new Poland-Lithuania, perpetually allied since 1413, could the better challenge the supremacy of the Teutonic Knights. Border incidents multiplied until major hostilities broke out in the Baltic region. In 1410 at the First Battle of Tannenberg, Grand Master Junigingen and many of his knights fell. Teutonic power in the Baltic was thereafter on the wane, although inept Polish diplomacy delayed the fruits of victory for a time.





    The Jagellon dynasty ruled Poland-Lithuania from 1386 to 1572, and gave the state what many regard as its golden age. From the victory of Tannenberg until the disruptive force of Protestantism began to be felt in the sixteenth century, the joint Lithuanian-Polish nations constituted the bulwark of Catholicity in the East. The Teutonic Knights were presently reduced to vassalage, but the unification of Russia and the advance of the Turks brought new foreign perils into view. Internally the Polish Church was reorganized by the Synod of Kalisch (1420) .

    Ladislas VI (1434-44) , Jagiello’s elder son, succeeded him in Poland, while the younger brother, Casimir, became Duke of Lithuania. Polish affairs, however, carne largely under the direction of Cardinal Olesnicki (1389-1455) , secretary of state since 1409, bishop of Cracow in 1423, and virtually prime minister after 1434. Olesnicki, though tainted with conciliarism at Basle, was resolute in halting the spread of Hussitism into Poland. It was his diplomatic negotiations that advanced the candidacy of King Ladislas to the Hungarian throne, to which he was elected in 1440. Ladislas distinguished himself thereafter in the war against the Turks, but lost his life prematurely in the battle of Varna in 1444.

    Casimir IV (1447-92), hitherto duke of Lithuania alone, now reunited the Polish-Lithuania state. Cardinal Olesnicki continued influential during the early part of this reign as well. King Casimir reopened the contest with the Teutonic knights and this time the Poles doggedly prosecuted the war until the Second Peace of Torun (1466) obliged the knights to recede the Polish Corridor. At the same time the knights recognized the overlordship of the Polish monarch, and promised to terminate the unofficial German monopoly of the Order by selecting half of their members from Poland in the future. Though the Teutonic Knights now ceased to be a serious rival to Polish power, yet they chafed [p. 44] under this Polish suzerainty, and eventually followed Grand Master Albert of Hohenzollern into Lutheranism. King Casimir succeeded in establishing his eldest son Ladislas on the Bohemian throne in 1471, and advanced him to the Hungarian crown as well during 1490. For a time all the Slavic monarchies of the Latin orbit had been brought under the sway of the Jagellon house. The Polish ruler also tried to curb the Polish nobility and evinced a tendency to have the decision in the nomination of the bishops.

    Weakening of the monarchy, however, followed under Casimir’s sons. The eldest, Ladislas (d. 1516) , became king of Bohemia and Hungary; the second, St. Casimir, predeceased his father in 1484; the youngest, Frederick (d. 1503), became cardinal-archbishop of Gnesen, while John Albert (1492-1501), Alexander (1501-06 ), and Sigismund I (1506-48 ) succeeded in turn to the Polish throne. The reign of the last belongs to the era of the Protestant Revolt. From John Albert in 1496 the nobility extorted the Statute of Piotkrow which gave them a strangle hold on the monarchy at the expense of burghers and peasants. King Alexander also conceded in 1505 the Constitution of Radom which introduced the notorious liberum veto which allowed any one of some ten thousand noblemen to obstruct legislation. Though wise monarchs were usually able to mitigate the effects of this “constitutional anarchy,” these concessions contained the political poison that eventually would destroy Polish power and independence.



B. Bohemian Nationalism (1306-1526)




 (1) GERMAN RULE (1306-1439)


    Dynastic change. The native Premsyld dynasty which had governed Bohemia from the dawn of its history became extinct in 1306. Four years of disputed succession ended when Emperor Henry VII bestowed the Bohemian crown on his son John to inaugurate a century of rule by the German Luxemburg house.

    King John (1310-46) proved somewhat of a disappointment. He devoted his restless attention to a multitude of projects; now fighting with the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic area; then opposing imperial interests in Lombardy; next intriguing for Brandenburg with Louis of Bavaria; and finally taking the papal side against the empire. The king consequently neglected the affairs of Bohemia and did little to conciliate national sentiment. He appropriately closed a life of knight-errantry by dying at Crécy felling Englishmen for the French in 1346.

    Charles (1346-78), John’s son and successor, also became Holy Roman Emperor. He is often termed the “father of Bohemia and the stepfather of Germany,” for he took up habitual residence at Prague and concentrated his energies on making Bohemia a strong and prosperous [p. 45] state. A cultural Renaissance followed his establishment of the University of Prague in 1348. Charles also obtained from the Holy See the removal of the see of Prague from the jurisdiction of the German metropolitan of Mainz and its erection into an archbishopric.

    Wenceslas (1378-1419) was almost as ineffectual in Bohemia as he had been in Germany. Bohemian nationalism, conciliated by his father, was again alienated so that John Hus was able to secure strong support for his antiecclesiastical and anti-German agitation. For fear of losing his crown, Wenceslas at length compromised with this opposition to such an extent as to arouse suspicions of his orthodoxy among the fathers at Constance.

    Sigismund (1419-37) remained little more than titular sovereign until the last year of his reign. As already noted, the Hussites held him at bay for many years, and finally the Czechs admitted him to a negotiated peace rather than as conqueror. Accepted as king by all in 1436, Sigismund died the next year without male heirs, leaving his dynastic claims to his son-in-law, Albert of Austria.

    Albert (1437-39) and his son Ladislas the Posthumous (1440-57) were not able at this time to make good the permanent incorporation of Bohemia into the Habsburg dominions.

(2) SLAVIC REGIME (1439-1526 )

    George Podiebrad (1439-71), a native Czech, first as regent for young King Ladislas, and after 1459 as king himself, became the most influential political leader in Bohemia. He seems to have been a cryptic heretic; at least he never gave entire satisfaction to the Holy See. Inclining toward the moderate Hussites, Podiebrad tried to reconcile them with the Catholics. But he also protected antipapal agitators, such as Gregor Heimburg, a refugee from Germany. Paul II in 1465 finally declared Podiebrad deposed, but that ruler commanded sufficient national support to defend his throne until his death.

    Ladislas Jagellon (1471-1516) , eldest son of Casimir IV of Poland, was then elected king of Bohemia. As a Catholic, he was welcomed by a majority of Bohemians to counteract the Hussites whom Podiebrad had favored. Ladislas, however, was unable to exterminate Hussitism. As a Slav, he was more congenial to the Bohemians than the Germans, but after his election to the Hungarian throne in 1490 he habitually resided in his new kingdom and neglected the concerns of the Czechs. This reinforced the tendency of the Bohemian nobility to form a nationalistic oligarchy which extended their lands at the expense of the Church and the crown.

    Louis Jagellon (1516-26), Ladislas’s son and successor in his two realms, was but ten years old at his accession. Even in full age, Louis  [p. 46] proved indolent and incompetent and the domination of Bohemian oligarchs continued. In August, 1526, he was defeated and killed by the Turks at Mohacs.

    Habsburg succession followed in virtue of the marriage of Louis’s sister to Ferdinand, duke of Austria, brother of Emperor Charles V. German rule returned, and despite a national uprising in 1618, the Czechs remained subject to the Habsburgs until 1918.

C. Hungarian Debacle (1301-1526)

(1) DYNASTIC RIVALRY (1308-1437 )

    Hungary also lost her native rulers at the extinction of the Arpads at the beginning of the fourteenth century. A serious struggle for the succession went on from 1295 to 1308 when Carobert of Anjou, descendant of the Neapolitan Angevins, won general acceptance through the support of the papal legates, Cardinals Boccasini and Gentile.

    Carobert (1308-42) proved a strong and able ruler who reorganized Hungarian administration in co-operation with the Avignon pontiffs. He feudalized Hungary, exacting military service from priests and lords alike. After fifteen years of conflict he also subdued the magnates and imposed direct taxation. At the same time, industry and trade were promoted.

    Louis the Great (1342-82 ), Carobert’s son, continued his strong policy and besides extended Hungarian power into the Balkans. He subjected Moldavia, Wallachia, and some Serbian provinces to his rule for a time, and also made an attempt to secure the Neapolitan crown from Jane I whom he accused of murdering his younger brother Andrew. During this reign there were repeated complaints of the intrusion of the secular power into ecclesiastical affairs, and papal admonitions brought little remedy.

    Mary and Sigismund. Louis left Hungary to his elder daughter Mary (1382-92) , who married Sigismund of Luxemburg (1387-1437) . The latter resumed Louis’s ambitious designs on the Balkans, but a projected crusade against the Turks came to disaster at Nicopolis in 1396. Sigismund tried to play burghers and gentry against the magnates, who in turn imprisoned him for four months during 1401. After 1410, moreover, Sigismund was chiefly absorbed in German and Bohemian affairs and the royal power in Hungary declined, while Hussitism penetrated into the country from Bohemia.


   The Turkish menace dominated Hungarian foreign policy and the nobility offered the crown to anyone who would both confirm their  [p. 47] privileges and fight the Turks. They accepted Sigismund’s son-in-law Albert (1437-39) , but passed over his son to offer the throne to Ladislas of Poland (1440-44) , eventually returning to Ladislas of Austria (144457)

   John Hunyadi, the native regent, was the real power after his first victory over the Turks in 1437. IIe continued to oppose them sturdily until his death in defense of Belgrade in 1456. Largely in virtue of his prestige his son Matthias Corvinus could make himself king (1458-90). While holding the Turks on the defensive, Matthias maintained royal authority in Hungary. He patronized art and culture, but dissipated his resources in ultimately unsuccessful efforts to conquer Austria and Bohemia.

   Jagellon decadence followed in Hungary under the Polish princes Ladislas (1490-1516) and Louis II (1516-26) . Their mediocre reigns have been noted in connection with Bohemia. They failed to prepare for the Turkish onslaught which engulfed the latter at Mohacs in 1526.

    Hungarian partition followed. Ferdinand of Austria and Bohemia came forward to claim the Hungarian crown as well, but was opposed by a national aspirant, John Zapolya, who as early as 1505 had introduced an anti-Habsburg exclusion bill in the Hungarian Diet. Zapolya set himself up in Transylvania as a Turkish vassal so that two thirds of the country fell directly or indirectly under Ottoman domination for a century and a half. The remaining third passed to the German Habsburgs, who ultimately were able to recover the remainder from the Turks in 1699 and then to rule over the Austro-Hungarian-Bohemian monarchy until 1918.





St. Joan of Arc



A. French Ordeal (1380-1453)





(1) DEGRADATION (1380-1429 )



    Charles VI (1380-1422), son of Charles the Wise, succeeded to the throne under the regency of his uncles, Louis, duke of Anjou, John, duke of Berri, and Philip, duke of Burgundy. These nobles represented the feudality, hitherto checked by a strong monarchy, who now pursued selfish interests at the expense of the nation. On coming of age the king dismissed the regents in 1388, but in 1392 experienced the first of recurring periods of insanity which soon reduced him to the condition of a semiconscious spectator of the events of his reign.

    Strife of factions. Charles V had confined the English to possession of the ports, and from 1380 to 1415 the Hundred Years’ War was in an inactive stage, whether the truce was informal or formal. This left the pressure groups among the nobility free to strive for the mastery of the  [p. 48] kingdom. After the death of Louis of Anjou (1384 ) , and the preoccupation of his descendants with the Neapolitan inheritance, domestic factions were reduced to two. One of these was headed by the king’s younger brother, Louis of Orléans, and the latter’s father-in-law, Bernard of Armagnac—whence this group eventually took its popular name. Broadly speaking, it prevailed in the south and west of France, championed the cause of feudalism, and held fast to the Avignon claimants to the papacy. The opposing faction was Burgundian, led since 1404 by the late regent’s son, John the Fearless. Generalizing once more, it may be said that this party was strong in the north and east, upheld bourgeois commercial interests in the Netherlands, and favored conciliarism. When Queen Isabella, an immoral and mercenary woman, shifted her favor from Burgundians to Armagnacs in 1407, Duke John retaliated by having Louis of Orléans assassinated. Thereafter intrigue was supplemented by armed clashes which brought France to the brink of anarchy.

    English domination. Though the conservative Armagnacs opposed the English, trade interests induced the Burgundians, if not to favor, at least to co-operate with the national enemy. Henry V of England took advantage of this situation to launch a new invasion of France which culminated in his great victory of Agincourt in 1415. This he followed up with shrewd diplomacy resulting in the Peace of Troyes (1420 ) . In this pact the semilucid King Charles was prevailed upon to disinherit his son, Dauphin Charles, recognize Henry V as crown prince regent of France, and give him his daughter Catherine in marriage. Both Charles VI and Henry V died in 1422, but the latter’s son was duly proclaimed king of both England and France. In the latter country the infant monarch’s interests were ably safeguarded by his uncle, John, duke of Bedford, as regent (1422-35 ). The dauphin retired to Armagnac territory, but English occupation proceeded so successfully that by 1429 even Frenchmen had begun to refer derisively to the dauphin as the “King of Bourges,” a town within his reduced dominions. Even this seemed about to be taken from him in 1429 as the English forces advanced confidently to lay siege to the Armagnac citadel of Orléans.



  (2) FRENCH LIBERATION (1429-53)



St. Jeanne d’Arc (1412-31) appeared at this moment when the dauphin himself, a clever but weak character, had despaired of his cause. About 1425 a pious but illiterate peasant girl of Domremy had become aware of “voices” which bade her undertake France’s redemption. Her own doubts and discouragement by advisors delayed revelation of her mission to the dauphin until March, 1429. His scepticism was overcome by several fulfilled prophecies and by disclosure of a mysterious secret which, it is believed, was the assurance of his legitimate birth—about [p. 49] which Queen Isabella’s conduct had raised no imprudent doubt. St. Joan was entrusted with moral leadership of the French forces, and on May 7, 1429 relieved Orléans after but a week of skirmishing. Only her earnest entreaties, however, could persuade Charles to permit a limited offensive along the Loire. St. Joan followed up new brilliant successes by arranging the dauphin’s coronation at Rheims, July 17, 1429. Burgundian diplomacy then won a truce to break the élan of the offensive and give the English time to reorganize. As soon as the truce ended, St. Joan, not unaware of approaching personal disaster, resumed the attack, but was captured at Compiègne—armistice site in World Wars I and II—on May 24, 1430.

    St. Joan’s trial was a political necessity for the English according to Machiavellian norms of statecraft: her alleged supernatural mandate had to be discredited. When Charles VII failed to redeem his champion, the English dispensed a king’s ransom, 10,000 livres, to her captor to obtain custody. From the first the University of Paris demanded trial by the inquisition, and in February, 1431, St. Joan was brought before Le Maître, vice-inquisitor at Rouen. But Le Maître and the canonical assessors were overshadowed by the English quisling, Pierre Cauchon, bishop of Beauvais, himself carefully briefed by the Regent Bedford. Joan underwent a gruelling and captious cross-examination during which she defended herself against charges of witchcraft and other delusions. Although her defense had a saint’s simplicity and a peasant’s common sense, not an iota of justice was accorded her. Once under ill-treatment and specious advice, she made an abjuration which her judges seem to have expanded by forgery. But when confronted after the torture with this signed statement, she repudiated it, accused herself of weakness, and ever after asserted her faith in a divine mission. Sentenced as a “relapsed heretic,” Joan was burned in the square at Rouen, May 30, 1431. With the cognizance of the Holy See, she was posthumously rehabilitated by a royal inquest at Paris in 1456, but Rome herself delayed any definitive verdict until 1909 when Joan was beatified by St. Pius X.

    English defeat followed nonetheless on St. Joan’s sacrifice. The death of Anne of Burgundy, the regent’s wife, weakened the AngloBurgundian entente, and in 1435 Philip II of Burgundy returned to French allegiance. Bedford’s death in the same year was followed in 1437 by Charles’s entry into Paris. While England was rent by her own civil War of the Roses, the French evicted the demoralized English expeditionary forces. Talbot held out doggedly until 1453, but after his death in that year only Calais survived of the English holdings in France. St. Joan had ended the Hundred Years’ War. [p. 50]



B. Rise of Gallicanism (1438-1515)




 (1) THE “KING OF BOURGES” (1438-61)



    Charles VII (1422-61), though now undisputed king of France, did not in another sense cease to be the “King of Bourges.” For not only did “Charles the Well-Served” prove basely ungrateful to his saintly chef-de-guerre, but he was disloyal to the Vicar of Christ. With Charles’s “Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges” began the transformation of “His Most Christian Majesty” into “His Most Gallican Majesty.” From 1438 to 1789 the almost continual advance of Gallicanism in France was to alienate the “Eldest Daughter” from the Holy See, as conciliarism was already detaching Germany.

    The Pragmatic Sanction emanated from a national assembly of the French clergy which Charles brought to Bourges from May to July, 1438. This synod was faced with the need of providing for the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline and of adopting an attitude toward the current strife between Pope Eugene IV and the rebellious Synod of Basle. Like the Germans, the French at Constance in 1418 had concluded a concordat with Pope Martin V in regard to papal provisions, and in 1436 the “French Nation” at Basle had accused both Martin V and Eugene IV of violating its terms. It is not surprising, then, that the Bourges assembly, like the German electors at Mainz, should adopt a “neutrality policy” between papacy and council. Though not formally repudiating allegiance to the Holy See, the clergy explicitly ratified the decrees of Basle in favor of conciliar supremacy above the papacy. Then under the guise of a return to tradition, the assembly abolished papal appointments to benefices in favor of election of bishops and abbots by the cathedral and monastic chapters. But this joker was added: “The assembly sees nothing harmful in kings and princes intervening in elections by their benevolent and pious prayers.” What King Charles’s “prayers” meant, defiant clerics soon discovered when they were deprived of their temporal goods. Though this “Pragmatic Sanction” was never ratified by the Holy See, thenceforth it served as the working arrangement for the French Church. And though the crown abandoned Basle shortly before its dissolution, it retained the Bourges assertion of the conciliar theory as a club to wrest further concessions from the papacy in the future.

    Royal government resumed its march toward Absolutism during the latter years of Charles VII. In 1439 the Estates General confirmed the Great Ordinance which placed all the military forces under royal command—thus absorbing revived “free companies”—and imposed a tax on land in order to maintain them. Having once secured a standing army and control of taxation, Charles summoned the Estates but one further  [p. 51] time during his reign. His successors, once financially independent, were prone to adopt a similar attitude toward the French legislature, until finally from 1614 to 1789 they dispensed with the Estates General entirely. But if Charles’s reign ended in material success, passage of time brought him moral degradation as St. Joan’s “gentle dauphin” succumbed in mature age to Agnes Sorel and other mistresses.


 (2) “KING SPIDER” (1461-83)



    Louis XI (1461-83 ), Charles’s elder son and successor, has not undeservedly gone down in history as “King Spider,” spinning a web of artful diplomacy to entrap his foes and complete the unification of France under royal supremacy. Louis has been characterized as either morbidly pious with a good measure of superstition, or as a hypocrite using religion as a cloak for political ends. It is possible that like many another man he tried to reconcile incompatible ideals. His personal piety was presumably sincere, but in callous separation of private and public morality he was Machiavellian before the theory.

    Ecclesiastical policy. As long as his father lived, Louis opposed the court, thus giving clergy and nobility reason to suppose that he despised Charles VII’s absolutism. Once on the throne, Louis dismissed his father’s counsellors and suspended the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. But the new king’s aim was to use the threat of re-enforcement of this conciliarist manifesto as a pawn or a weapon in negotiations with the Holy See. Disappointed in not receiving papal sanction for Capetian claims to the Two Sicilies, Louis XI opened a religious war (1463-65 ) during which he forcibly appropriated ecclesiastical property. Pope Pius II threatened him with excommunication in 1464, but Paul II came to terms in order to avert a plan of Louis to hold an antipapal council in concert with George Podiebrad of Bohemia. Next the king’s demand for a civil trial of Cardinal Jean Balue, charged with treason, provoked a new conflict regarding clerical immunities. Pope Sixtus IV prevented new antipapal acts by Louis only by the concession to the French king of a veto on all papal nominations to benefices, and the privilege of presentation to benefices during six months each year. This pact pleased neither party, and papal-royal relations remained ill defined. In 1478 the king of France lent his support to Lorenzo de’ Medici against Sixtus IV during the Pazzi affair, and again threatened to call an antipapal general council. The pope, after detaching Emperor Frederick III from this project by increased grants of patronage, appeased Louis XI by promising him the investiture of Naples. In 1480 Cardinal Balue was released after eleven years’ imprisonment, but new diplomatic fencing was in progress when the king died, for in his view, Sixtus was “a bad pope for the House of France.” [p. 52]

    Secular policy. Louis’s chief objective was to complete France’s unification under royal control. The main obstacle lay in Burgundy, which under Duke Charles the Rash (1467-77) dominated Alsace-Lorraine and the Netherlands. Louis used every resource of diplomacy to defeat a renewed Anglo-Burgundian alliance, but it was Louis’s allies, the Swiss pikemen, who defeated and killed Charles at Nancy. Louis XI then reannexed French Burgundy and hoped to secure all of Charles’s possessions, but the marriage of the latter’s daughter Mary to Maximilian of Habsburg brought the remainder to the House of Austria. Then began a ring of Habsburg lands about France that would become the nightmare for Capetian diplomacy and would provoke its kings into betraying Christendom by pacts with the Turks and Lutherans. Louis XI, who called the Estates General but once during his long reign, never lost sight of the monarchical goal of absolutism at home.



 (3) FOREIGN AMBITIONS (1483-1515)



Charles VIII (1483-98), Louis’s son, succeeded to the crown under the competent regency of his sister, Anne de Beaujeau. Anne not merely divided a coalition of nobles who had sought to reverse the trend toward strong centralized monarchy, but she prepared for the acquisition of Brittany, last of the great feudal provinces still outside direct royal control. After Francis II of Brittany died (1488 ), his heiress was betrothed to Maximilian of Habsburg. But this the regent, Anne de Beaujeau, would not tolerate: she declared the engagement null without royal consent, invaded Brittany, and married off its duchess to her brother, Charles VIII. Pope Innocent VIII was prevailed upon—not without recourse to threats—to assent to the fait accompli. Brittany was thereby secured for the French crown, but Maximilian’s wounded feelings had to be soothed by the cession of Artois and Franche Comte. On assuming personal charge of his kingdom, however, Charles VIII sought at long last to realize the French claims on Naples dating back to the previous century. Though in the long run the king’s Italian invasion (1494-95) was unsuccessful, Italy remained a beacon for French diplomacy.

    Louis XII (1498-1515), a descendant of the Louis of Orléans whose assassination in 1407 had provoked the Armagnac wars, then succeeded the childless Charles VIII on the throne. In order to preserve the connection of Brittany with the French Crown, King Louis was determined to marry the late king’s widow, the Breton heiress Anne. Hence, Louis XII presently began to assert that he had been forced to marry his present wife, St. Jane of Valois, by her father, King Louis XI. Presumably the annulment that was subsequently allowed by Pope Alexander VI corresponded to the facts of the case, though there was a concomitant [p. 53] political deal with Caesar Borgia that made the transaction malodorous. Allied with the Borgias, Louis XII essayed French fortunes once more in Italy. For a time he secured Milan, but was robbed of Naples by Ferdinand of Aragon. Louis expected benevolence from Julius II (1503-13) who as Cardinal della Rovere had sought French asylum against the Borgias. But Louis’s power in Lombardy ran counter to Julius’s program of “Italy for the Italians,” and before long both the French king and his creature, the “Council of Pisa,” had been run out of Italy. But though Louis XII did not live to return, his successor, Francis I, was to come back in 1515, and after the victory of Marginano was able to exact sweeping concessions from Pope Leo X in exchange for the renunciation of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges: The Concordat at Bologna, 1515-16. Already during the administration of the clerical premier, Cardinal Georges D’Amboise (1498-1510), the royal hand had laid heavily upon the Church as well as the state. This cardinal — whose omnicompetence supposedly survives in “let George do it” —was made legate a latere for the whole of France by Pope Julius II, as a consolation prize for failing to win the tiara in the conclave of 1503. Now D’Amboise became one of those national “vice-popes”—like Wolsey in England and Lang and Hohenzollern in Germany—whose existence threatened ecclesiastical unity on the eve of the protestant revolt. before that religious movement got under way, Louis XII died, January, 1515.





 King Richard III



A. Passing of Feudal England (1377-1509)





(1) ORIGIN of the WAR of the ROSES (1377-1413)



    Richard II (1377-99) succeeded his grandfather, Edward III, in 1377. The young monarch’s position resembled that of Charles VI in France in 1380, for he too was under tutelage to his uncles. The new regime was threatened in 1379 by Wat Tyler’s rebellion which stemmed from the Black Death and Lollardism. King Richard’s personal bravery somewhat disconcerted the rioters, who dispersed under promises of redress of grievances. But this was not forthcoming and may in part explain Richard’s lack of popular support in his subsequent struggle with the feudality for political power. Richard’s personal rule, however, was at first enlightened and moderate in happy contrast to the selfish and negligent administration of his uncles. But early success in regaining his lapsed prerogatives seems to have unbalanced the king’s sense of reality; soon he was pursuing absolutism without disguise against a proud, wealthy, and warlike nobility. While Richard II was distracted by an Irish uprising, his first cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, rebelled. The feudality flocked to Henry’s standard in such numbers that Richard on  [p. 54] his return to England yielded without fighting. In September, 1399, Parliament declared him deposed and he seems to have been murdered the following year.

    Henry IV (1399-1413) was none other than the astute Bolingbroke, king by will of parliament. Though he was Richard’s next male heir according to the Salie Law, the descendants of Lionel of Clarence and Edmund of York, who had intermarried, were later able to advance a plausible claim to the throne in the elder but female line, and thereby precipitate the War of the Roses. Henry’s debatable right to the crown made him anxious to have clerical support; this may explain his zeal for the statute, De Haeretico Comburendo, enacted against Lollards in 1401. This legislation did not remain a dead letter, and succeeded in reducing, if not entirely suppressing, the English heresy. Though Henry IV successfully defended his throne against several serious rebellions, he was forced all the more to rely upon parliamentary support. Indeed, parliament could capitalize upon the disputes among the rival branches of the Plantagenet dynasty during the fifteenth century in order to make good its claim to control, and even to depose monarchs. Henry IV had to resort to the arts of a politician to preserve his position; he pledged himself accordingly “to abandon the evil ways of Richard II,” and himself to govern “by common counsel and consent.” His son, the reformed Prince Hal, courted popularity, and eventually employed his military skill against France in the expectation that he might be able to unite domestic factions against a foreign foe.


(2) COURSE of the WAR of the ROSES (1413-85)



    Henry V (1413-22) continued his father’s prosecution of the Lollards as political scapegoats until the execution of their leader Oldcastle in 1417 ended their menace. In 1415 Henry’s victory at Agincourt made him a national hero. Edward, Duke of York, died in the battle, and had it not been for Henry’s own premature death, his Lancastrian House might have retained secure possession of the crown. Henry V, a friend of Emperor Sigismund, generally co-operated with him at the Council of Constance. In 1418 he concluded a concordat with Pope Martin V. This pact, unlike the other agreements made with the nations at the Council, was designed to be perpetual and seems to have alleviated many grievances.

    Henry VI (1432-61) was less than a year old when proclaimed king of England and France in virtue of his father’s conquests. While the regency in France went to his uncle, the duke of Bedford, with results already noted, the English administration was assumed by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. The latter often clashed with the king’s great-uncle, Cardinal Henry of Winchester, whose control of the English Church [p. 55] elicited unavailing protests from Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. The king was meek and pious, but disturbed by recurring fits of insanity possibly inherited from his French grandfather. He left government largely to his council, but was himself a beneficent influence in ecclesiastical affairs. After the death of the Lancastrian stalwarts, Humphrey of Gloucester and Cardinal Henry, in 1447, Richard, duke of York, aspired to the regency and the throne. The king’s unscrupulous spouse, Margaret of Anjou, parried intrigue with intrigue, and dreary civil conflicts went on until Richard of York was slain at Wakefield in 1460. But this was a Pyrrhic victory, for the next year Richard’s son Edward turned the tables at Tewton, and persuaded parliament to replace Henry VI with himself.

    Edward IV (1461-83) inaugurated an equally precarious period of Yorkist ascendancy. In 1466 a synod at York did try to revive clerical discipline, weakened by prelatial partisanship in the civil wars, but its regulations were for the most part ineffectual. In 1469 the “King-Maker,” Richard of Warwick, changed sides to expel Edward and to restore Henry VI. But Edward in exile revived the profitable Burgundian alliance, and was able to regain his throne in 1471 without Warwick’s favor. The Lancastrians were then almost exterminated. For the remainder of his reign King Edward was able to devote himself to patronage of the Renaissance and of Caxton’s printing press.

    Richard III (1483-85), Edward’s brother, seems to have reached the throne by adding the murder of the late king’s son, Edward V (1483) , to that of Henry VI. His reputation may be somewhat blackened by partisan literature, but the legitimacy of his claims can scarcely be sustained. To oppose him the Lancastrians put forward Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, though his claim to the throne was tenuous. But Tudor defeated and killed Richard III at Bosworth Field, August 22, 1485, amid terrible carnage of the feudal nobility—in a sense it was their twilight. The crown was found hanging on a bush and taken up by Henry Tudor, as much by might as by right.


 (3) TUDOR ABSOLUTISM (1485-1509)


Henry VII (1485-1509) bolstered his military and parliamentary claims to the crown by marrying Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV. Pretenders and impostors were ruthlessly suppressed and in 1499 Edward of Warwick, last male Plantagenet, was executed. Thereafter the Tudors were secure so long as they maintained prosperity. Henry was a shrewd and economical businessman who relied on the merchant class whose longing for peace had long been denied. With his assistance Henry labored to weaken the feudality, already decimated by the War of Roses. Rigid economy and advantageous trade [p. 56] pacts with the Netherlands contributed to the return of prosperity. Exactions and indirect taxes—on Morton’s fork—made the royal treasury largely independent of parliament, whose legislative influence correspondingly decreased. But while aiming at absolutism, Henry and his successors were usually careful to preserve the constitutional forms; they bribed or overawed or ignored parliament; they did not defy it. This shrewd tactic enabled the Tudors to have their way for a century in England.

Ecclesiastical policy. To offset the nobility, Henry VII called the prelates to assist in the government. They responded as to a patriotic duty, and prelatial subservience to absolutism succeeded prelatial partisanship of noble factions. The chief agent of Henry’s financial policy was Cardinal John Morton, archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor (1487-1500), while Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester, was secretary of state from 1485 to 1516. Bishops and abbots, generally favoring good order, rallied to the king and were employed in political offices, all too often to the detriment of their spiritual duties. To compensate them, plurality of sees and benefices and resulting nonresidence came to be taken as a matter of course. The inferior clergy, often lacking episcopal supervision, sometimes emulated the prelates in seeking royal favor, or grew careless. The clergy did little to defend the commoners against royal exactions and the enclosure movement by the country aristocracy. English clerical discipline, while perhaps superior to that on the Continent, never fully recovered from the demoralizing effects of the Black Death, Lollardism, and the War of Roses. The king was careful to remain on good terms with the Holy See, for which he expected and received many favors. From 1487 the see of Worcester was reserved for an absentee Italian cleric, who in exchange for its revenues undertook to advance the royal interests at the Roman curia. In 1521 this agency was to be held by Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, who subsequently as Pope Clement VII was faced with the marriage case of Henry VIII.

    About 1500, some three million English Catholics were served by an estimated ten thousand secular priests, three thousand to four thousand monks, and fifteen hundred friars—an ample provision in quantity. But as St. Thomas More would concede to Tyndale, “I wot well there be therein many lewd and naught. . . . But if the bishops would once take unto priesthood better laymen and fewer, all the matter were more than half amended.” As to the enclosures in favor of sheepherding, ‘ laconically remarked through a literary character, “Sheep are eating [sic. “devouring the”] men.” On the other hand, a visitation in 1530 found that four hundred of 585 parishes were in need of no admonition whatsoever. By no means scandalous, perhaps too few clerics were zealous. [p. 57]



B. Irish Disaffection (1366-1513)






    Resistance to the Kilkenny policy of preventing Anglo-Irish fraternization soon arose. In 1375 Art Oge MacMurrough, prince of Leinster (1376-1417), defied the law to marry Elizabeth of Norragh. When the English tried to arrest him for high treason, he went into a revolt that continued until his death by poison in 1417. By the end of the fourteenth century Art’s rising had become so serious that Richard II intervened in person. The king won a paper victory by inducing MacMurrough and some eighty other chiefs to abandon royal titles and recent conquests in exchange for secure tenure of their ancestral lands. But Richard’s deposition on his return to England destroyed this compromise.

    The War of Roses ended all hope of an English conquest of Ireland for its duration. The Lancastrians, their hands full with revolts in England and war in France, confined their efforts in Ireland to holding the Pale. Irish chiefs recovered two thirds of their lands, though their mutual rivalries prevented any concerted movement to gain complete independence. The Yorkists were usually able to enlist Irish aid against the Lancastrians, but only at the expense of abandoning royal government in Ireland. The Kilkenny policy broke down and three Anglo-Irish families of the Butlers of Ormond and the FitzGeralds of Desmond and Kildare became strong in the south, while the O’Neills retained their hold on the north. The Anglo-Irish often sided with the “mere Irish” against England, and in 1468 the Irish parliament demanded that English statutes receive its own ratification before being applied to Ireland.



   (2) TUDOR OPPORTUNISM (1485-1513)


    Henry VII sought to restore royal control in Ireland. At first he was troubled by Irish support of Yorkist pretenders, but after these had been disposed of, he reverted to the Kilkenny policy. His viceroy, Sir Edward Poynings, decreed in 1495 that the Statute of Kilkenny was again in force and also that no bills might be proposed in the Irish parliament without previous authorization from the English government. This measure, “Poynings’s Law,” muzzled the Irish legislature for centuries.

    Kildare leadership. Previous to this decree, the Irish parliament had been largely controlled by the FitzGeralds or Geraldines, earls of Kildare. Henry VII came to realize that for the present he could not dispense with them. In 1496 Poynings was recalled, and the earl of Kildare named royal deputy. With full control of the ecclesiastical and civil patronage, Kildare remained almost an uncrowned king of Ireland until his death in 1513. Although his control of parliament was gone, Kildare  [p. 58] could conciliate the Irish chieftains to the royal interest and his own profit. This Tudor policy was but a makeshift, but for many years nothing stronger was deemed possible. When, however, Irish factions in the Pale provoked the Earl’s grandson, “Silken Thomas,” to revolt, a new policy became necessary.



C. Scottish Anticlericalism (1371-1513)






    Scotland followed her French ally in supporting the Avignon claimants to the papacy. This policy was upheld by Robert Stuart, duke of Albany, who controlled the Scottish government as regent or chief minister between 1388 and 1419. Albany and other lords found it easy to elicit confirmation from Avignon for their disposal of church goods. Though the Scots acknowledged the choice of Martin V by Constance, they opposed any restoration of real papal jurisdiction. In 1424 parliament imposed a tax on the clergy to ransom King James I, captive in England since childhood. Pope Martin V having refused to renounce provisions in Scotland, King James himself veered to the support of the rebel Council of Basle, and his son, James II, adhered to that assemblage until 1443. Finally under the influence of James Kenedy, bishop of St. Andrew’s (d. 1465), antipapal feeling seems to have subsided for a time.





But new trouble occurred during the reign of King James III (146088). Bishop Kenedy’s successor, Patrick Graham, was an ambitious pluralist who provoked resentment. As much against him as against the Church, the Scottish parliament in 1466 laid restrictions on commendatory benefices and pensions. When St. Andrew’s was raised to metropolitan rank in 1472, the king and nobles opposed the papal action, lest Graham profit by it. At last in 1478 Graham was forced to resign, and the royal nominee, Schevez, accepted in his place. Then Glasgow disputed the precedence of St. Andrew’s, and could not be pacified until it also had been raised to archepiscopal rank in 1492. The alliance of monarchy and nobility against the papacy was broken when James III disputed the Homes’s possession of Coldingham Priory. In 1488 parliament accused the king of plundering the Church, and the Homes and Hepburns united to defeat and kill the king, June 11, 1488.




    Antipapal feeling gained control with this rebellion. The parliament of 1489 instructed the Scottish hierarchy in their proper conduct toward Rome. In 1493 parliament re-enacted old laws to protect benefices from [p. 59] papal nomination and taxation, and in 1496 there was renewed insistence upon Scottish national rights and customs. King James IV, moreover, successively entrusted the primatial see of St. Andrew’s to illegitimate relatives, aged twenty and nine respectively. Pope Leo X acquiesced in the nomination of bishops by the king, and the appointment to lesser benefices by the great lords. In a poor country the plunder or alienation of ecclesiastical goods went on rapidly. “By 1560 antipapal legislation had died a natural death; not because the Scots had lost interest in the matter, but because they had won the battle.” 9

W. Stanford Reid, “Origins of Anti-Papal Legislation,” Catholic Historical Review, January, 1944, p. 468.





 Ferdinand of Spain

Isabella of Spain

THE reunion of the Iberian Penninsula was intimately connected with the Reconquista (reconquest) of Spain: that is, the gradual restoration of Spain as a Christian nation during the period spanning the 770 years between the Islamic Iberian conquests of 710 by the Umayyad Caliphate to the fall of the last Islamic Spanish state at Granada  in 1492.




A. Spanish Disunity (1276-1479)





     (1) CASTILIAN DOMESTIC STRIFE (1284-1474 )



    Cerda disputes. The last bequest of the legalistic King Alfonso X had been a rule of primogeniture disinheriting his surviving son Sancho in favor of the sons of the deceased Crown Prince Fernando de la Cerda. Sancho indeed seized the throne at his father’s death, but his reign (1284-95) and that of his son Ferdinand IV (1295-1312) were disturbed by efforts of the Cerda princes to gain the crown, first with French, and later with Aragonese assistance. Finally an arbiter, King Denis of Portugal, persuaded the pretenders to abandon their claims for a monetary compensation in 1304.

    Alfonso XI (1312-50), after a minority disturbed by a cousin’s rivalry and a youth distracted by amours with Eleanor de Guzman, revived the crusades. Eleanor was abandoned at the insistence of Pope Benedict XII, and the same pontiff ended strife between Alfonso and his father-in-law, Alfonso of Portugal. In 1339 Alfonso XI relieved the siege of Tarifa by Emir Abdul of Fez, and drove him back to Africa. In 1344 he captured Algeciras, and was preparing to reduce Granada when he was carried off by the Black Death. Despite his promulgation of the code, Siete Partidas, the three estates of the cortes continued to check royal absolutism.

    Pedro the Cruel (1350-69 ), Alfonso’s son by his wife Maria of Portugal, strangled Eleanor de Guzman and drove out the latter’s son, Henry of Trastamara. Pedro, however, is not to be deemed a fanatical defender of Christian matrimony, for he himself deserted, and later killed, his wife, Blanche de Bourbon, in order to persist in an amour with Maria Padilla. Excommunicated by Pope Innocent VI, Pedro braved even an interdict until his subjects joined Henry of Trastamara returning from exile with French backing. Pedro was slain and Henry enthroned. [p. 60]

    Trastamara doldrums (1369-1474) . Henry II (1369-79) was little more than a French puppet who obediently brought Castile into line with Avignon during the Great Schism. His son Juan (1379-90) had to defend his crown against an English invasion by John of Gaunt, who had married Pedro’s daughter. Henry III (1390-1406) raided Africa, opened the occupation of the Canaries, and died while contemplating a new crusade. His son Juan II (1406-54) was long under the domination of a favorite, Alvaro de Luna, and allowed royal power to be dissipated. The cortes reached the zenith of its influence during these years, but in place of the crusading spirit there was excessive toleration of Moslems and Jews for economic motives. Juan’s son Henry IV (1454-74) proved no more successful in preserving order, and doubts as to the legitimacy of his supposed daughter Joanna enabled the nobility to revolt on behalf of his brother Alfonso and his sister Isabella. Alfonso died in 1468, but Isabella who had married Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469, survived to succeed Henry IV in 1474. She is Isabella the Catholic, one of the founders of modern Spain.



     (2) ARAGONESE IMPERIALISM (1276-1479)



    The Sicilian War (1276-1327). James the Conqueror was followed in 1276 by his son Pedro III who had married Constance von Hohenstaufen, illegitimate scion of Emperor Frederick II, and claimant to the Two Sicilies. Though Pedro does not seem to have engineered the Sicilian Vespers against Charles of Anjou, he was prepared to take advantage of it. Under the pretense of a crusade bound for Africa, he set sail for Sicily where he made common cause with the rebels. When the latter saluted him as their king, Pedro found himself excommunicated by Pope Martin IV and attacked by the Capetians, both of France and of Naples. The conflict lasted throughout Pedro’s reign (1276-85) , into those of his sons, Alfonso III (1285-91) and James II (1291-1327) . In 1295 James II concluded with Pope Boniface VIII the Peace of Anagni which awarded him Sardinia and Corsica in place of Sicily, but his younger brother Frederick refused to ratify this pact and held out until 1302 when the pope recognized the latter’s possession of Sicily under papal suzerainty. James II succeeded in occupying Sardinia in 1324, after long fights with the Genoese and Pisans, but Corsica escaped him.

    Royal supremacy became the issue during the next reigns. King Alfonso IV (1327-36) was seriously handicapped by the feudal nobility, but his son Pedro the Ceremonious (1336-87) won a great victory over them in 1348. Influenced by Pedro de Luna, King Pedro and his sons, Juan (1387-95) and Martin (1395-1410) , gave their allegiance to the Avignon claimants to the papacy. Martin regained Sicily at the extinction [p. 61] of the cadet line in 1409, but his own death the next year extinguished the Catalonian dynasty.

    Trastamara ambitions. After a two-year interregnum, a younger brother of Henry III of Castile, Ferdinand I (1412-16), was installed as king of Aragon. Ferdinand’s candidacy had been supported by Pedro de Luna and its success delayed the repudiation of the Avignon obedience. Alfonso V (1416-58) was, however, persuaded by St. Vincent Ferrer to abandon Avignon. Later he turned the Basle Schism to good advantage. In 1435 the decease of Jane II of Naples enabled Alfonso to occupy the mainland, and by 1443 he was glad to secure papal investiture for the reunited Two Sicilies by abandoning “Felix V” and Basle for Pope Eugene IV. King Alfonso at his death left Naples to his illegitimate son Ferrante, whose descendants held it until 1501, but Sicily passed with Sardinia and Aragon to his brother John. This King John II (1458-79) had married Queen Blanche of Navarre and spent most of his reign in an effort to incorporate Navarre into Aragonese territory. His persecution of his elder son Charles, rightful heir to Navarre, provoked resistance and a revival of Catalan feudality. Charles died in 1461 before his father, so that John II was succeeded in 1479 by his second and favorite son, Ferdinand II (1479-1516) in Aragon, while Navarre went its separate way for another generation. But Ferdinand II by his marriage to Isabella of Castile prepared the unification of that country with Aragon to form the modern kingdom of Spain.



B. Spanish Unification (1479-1516)






    Dynastic union. In 1469 the marriage of Isabella of Castile to her second cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon, made possible Spanish unification. Though the two realms preserved their separate institutions, the royal spouses—entitled Los Reyes Catolicos by papal grant in 1494—displayed a close harmony in their domestic policies. Spanish unity was indeed threatened in 1497 by the death of their only son, Don Juan. Hence, at Isabella’s death in 1504, Castile passed to her daughter Juana la Loca, wife of Philip the Handsome, son of Emperor Maximilian. Philip’s premature death in 1506 shattered Juana’s reason, and Ferdinand undertook the administration of Castile for her son Charles, still a child in Flanders. Since Ferdinand’s second marriage to Germaine de Foix proved childless, Aragon as well as Castile passed at Ferdinand’s death in 1516 to the first king of Spain, Charles I (1516-56), later Emperor Charles V.

    Domestic reorganization. Ferdinand and Isabella strove first to curb the feudal nobility. In 1480 the Consejo de Castila began its advance toward centralized royal bureaucracy, and after 1483 the cortes were  [p. 62] summoned less often. From 1480 corregidores went out from the court to supervise local government. Feudal castles were demolished and military forces reorganized and modernized by Gonsalvo de Cordoba, Ferdinand’s great captain under the crown. The military religious orders were also brought under royal control by having Ferdinand chosen as grand master as successive vacancies occurred. In co-operation with the towns, a national police force, the santa hermanadad, was organized to repress private warfare. The nobility, placated by titles and privileges, were drawn into the civil and military service of the crown. In 1485 the Libro de Montalvo began a codification of law according to the principles of Justinian’s famous code. Prelates were also subjected to the control of the monarchy which virtually extorted from the Holy See the privilege of nomination. Two great primates of Toledo, Cardinals Mendoza (1482-95) and Ximenes (1495-1517 ), promoted the Renaissance in all its better aspects, and the latter was a resolute reformer of clerical discipline who did much to avert the shock of the Protestant Revolt.

    Foreign expansion. After a protracted campaign, Ferdinand and Isabella completed the reconquest of Spain from the Moors by overrunning Granada and occupying the Alhambra by 1492. In the same year Christopher Columbus took possession of the West Indies for the Spanish crown, and gave the Spanish monarchs a prior claim to the American continents. It may be questioned whether Spain reaped any genuine economic advantage from the New World, but certainly its discovery and exploitation made Spain for a century the leading world power, and its subsequent colonial activity brought great religious and cultural benefits to American natives. After Isabella’s death, Ferdinand completed Spanish peninsular unification by acquiring (1512) the southern portion of Navarre. It was a great inheritance in the Old World and the New that the regent, the dying Cardinal Ximenes, handed over to the young King Charles when he arrived in Spain from the Netherlands in 1517.




    Politico-religious aims. Two groups endangered the internal security of the new Spain, the Maranos and Moriscoes—and to these were to be added after 1517 cryptic heretics. The Maranos were Jews who had been made Christians through moral or physical force, but continued in secret to practice Judaism and to conspire with the enemies of Church and state in Spain. The Moriscoes were those Moors “converted” to Catholicity under the same unfavorable circumstances. Though both classes had included sincere converts, others continued to be subversive elements who secretly co-operated with their former co-religionists. To promote political and religious harmony, Ferdinand and Isabella [p. 63] inaugurated in 1492 a policy of exiling all professed Jews and Mohammedans, a course which practically eliminated them from Spain by the end of a century. But the problem of distinguishing between sincere and false Christians was more delicate; it was committed to the famous Spanish Inquisition.

   Nature of the Inquisition. The Spanish Inquisition was the ancient medieval institution, revived on the demand of the Catholic sovereigns of Spain. Though this was done with papal permission, the new organization was conducted for political as well as religious ends, often with disregard for the safeguards which the Holy See wished to place upon it. The Spanish Inquisition, then, was not a purely political machine, for it conducted its functions under the old rules for canonical tribunals and was administered by ecclesiastics who duly handed over those condemned to death to the “secular arm.” On the other hand, the Spanish Inquisition in actual operation was no responsibility of the Catholic Church, for its abuses took place in spite of explicit papal protests and through the intermediary of political prelates who served the crown first and the Holy See second. These abuses were not as egregious as the salacious Llorente would imply; they existed, but were exceptions rather than the rule. The Inquisition was indeed a stern police system, but it was normally conducted with far more justice and equity than the contemporary Elizabethan “Gestapo,” and its victims were far more likely to be real criminals—all offenses against morals came under the court’s jurisdiction. Finally, the Spanish Inquisition did effect peninsular unity at the cost of relatively few lives, while the English Inquisition failed to preserve the Anglican establishment from civil war and prolonged religious dispute and secession.

   Establishment. Isabella sought authorization for the tribunal from Pope Sixtus IV, and on November 1, 1478, that pontiff, after laying down certain regulations, granted her request. The queen nominated Friar Tomas de Torquemada (1420-98) to head the new institution, and the first auto da fe was held in February, 1481. Such a ceremony, it must be remarked, was literally a “profession of faith,” and often involved no executions whatever, but merely canonical penances for the repentant. Even so, Sixtus IV protested in 1483 that the Inquisition was exceeding due moderation in its prosecutions. His protests and those of his successors were evaded or disregarded or even suppressed by Spanish Caesaro-papism. Cardinal Ximenes, an exemplary prelate, was moderate in his direction of the Inquisition, and serious abuses did not occur for nearly a century after its establishment. [p. 64]




C. Portuguese Separatism (1279-1521)




     (1) NATIONALISM (1279-1433)


   Denis the Worker (1279-1325) was the greatest of Portuguese medieval kings in promoting material prosperity. His agrarian policy put the country’s economic life on a sound basis, and he also stimulated commerce, taking care to foster reciprocal relations with England. Denis did much to promote culture. In 1290 Nicholas IV sanctioned his foundation of a university at Lisbon, later transferred to Coimbra. Yet despite his marriage to the younger St. Elizabeth, a niece of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, Denis did not prove a docile son of the Church. He began his reign involved in a censure pronounced against his father, and did not reach an understanding with the Holy See until 1289. His land reforms bore heavily on the Church, and he confiscated much of the Templars’ property.

   Dynastic strife. St. Elizabeth (d. 1336 ), both during and after her husband’s reign, intervened often to allay family troubles, in part provoked by Denis’s moral misconduct. Their son Alfonso IV (1325-57) had to protect his crown against an illegitimate brother Alfonso Sanchez. In defense of national independence Alfonso IV and his son Pedro (1357-67) allied with Aragon against Castile. But Pedro’s liaison with Inez de Castro prepared new difficulties for his legitimate son Ferdinand (1367-83) . Papal mediation brought peace with Castile in 1371, but the marriage of the king’s daughter Beatrice to Juan of Castile threatened Portuguese survival.

   Independence was defended by Ferdinand’s illegitimate brother, John of Aviz, elected to the throne rather than allow the accession of Beatrice and Juan. As king (1385-1433), John repulsed the Castilian feudal host at Aljubarrota with the aid of English archers. The English alliance enabled John to place the House of Aviz securely on the Portuguese throne until 1580. Desultory warfare with Castile ended in 1411 with full recognition of Portugal’s separate existence.


     (2) IMPERIALISM (1415-1521)


   Overseas expansion became Portugal’s concern after the capture of Ceuta in Africa from the Moors in 1415. Three of King John’s sons participated in the undertaking, and one of them, Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460 ) , devoted the rest of his life to directing Portuguese exploration. Designed alike to spread the Gospel and extend Portuguese trade and political sway, these efforts laid the foundation of the maritime empire of the next century. At first the monarchs concentrated on Africa, but John II (1481-95) pushed forward more distant explorations by Diaz and Da Gama.

     King Manoel the Fortunate (1495-1521) reaped the fruits of a century of discovery. In 1499 Da Gama opened the East Indies to Portuguese trade, conquest, and evangelization—unfortunately in that order. Cabral in 1500 laid a claim for Portugal to Brazil, and in 1520 the native Portuguese mariner, Magellan, circumnavigated the world. At home Manoel aped the renaissance trend toward strong monarchy in Castile and Aragon. Portugal entered the sixteenth century fully abreast with its larger Spanish rival in the race for empire, though its more limited resources were to tell against it in the end.






 Stavechurch, Heddal




A. Danish Hegemony (1300-1513)







    The Hanseatic League was essentially a customs union of Baltic towns to facilitate commerce. After the fall of the Hohenstaufen, German merchants lacked the protection of a strong central government, and during the Great Interregnum civic leagues began to be fashioned. The Hansa can be traced to a meeting of representatives from Lübeck, Bremen, Hamburg, and Danzig in 1293. This Baltic association pooled resources to protect the fishing banks and to extend commerce in the Baltic and North Seas. Gradually the League, which admitted new members, came to possess “factories,” i.e., warehouses, wharves, and inns, at strategic points from London to Novgorod. Wherever possible these posts were garrisoned by agents of the League and made into extraterritorial quarters under their own laws.

    Danish intervention in Hanseatic affairs dates from 1307 when Lübeck appealed for aid to King Eric Menved (1286-1319) against the count of Holstein. Royal ambition was thereby aroused to dominate the League, which had factories in Bergen in Norway, Wisby in Sweden, and on the Skanian fishing bank between Denmark and Sweden. Danish territory dominated the narrows between the North and the Baltic, and a hostile Denmark could sever Hanseatic communications. King Eric, however, overreached himself by trying to win support for his foreign policy by lavish concessions to the nobility. Christopher II (1320-32) , his successor, proved incapable of controlling the nobility. He was deposed, and years of anarchy ensued during which Count Gerhard of Holstein on land, and the Hanseatic League on the sea, appropriated Danish possessions. At length Christopher’s son, Waldemar III (1340-75 ), made good his claim to the Danish crown and restored domestic order. In 1360 he wrested the Skanian province from Sweden and increased the tax on Hanseatic fishing; in 1361 his fleet seized the Swedish island of Gothland and destroyed Wisby. The League retaliated, first by an embargo on Danish commerce, and then by war in alliance with Sweden, [p. 66] Norway, and Holstein. Waldemar won a naval victory in 1363 which forced the League to acquiesce in Danish confiscations and imposts, but the League returned to the conflict with the same allies in 1367. This time Waldemar was driven from his kingdom, and he recovered his throne only by accepting the Treaty of Stralsund in 1370. This restored Hanseatic privileges and allowed the League to garrison Skania for fifteen years in order to control the narrows. The future of the Danish monarchy seemed precarious when Waldemar III died in 1375 without a male heir. The Hanseatic League continued to dominate Scandinavian commerce until the sixteenth century, and introduced considerable German influence into the area which would later provide an opening wedge for Lutheran propaganda.



 (2) UNION OF KALMAR (1375-1412)



Scandinavian unity became the chief issue in the Baltic monarchies during the two centuries preceding the Lutheran revolt. Denmark, the least isolated of the kingdoms, aspired to the position of a great power, and briefly attained it under a remarkable woman, Waldemar’s daughter Margaret, the “Semiramis of the North.” This Danish hegemony was to be favorable to the Church in many ways, but its support by the Scandinavian clergy would leave pretexts for the Lutherans to exploit Swedish nationalism.

    Margaret Valdemarsdatter (1375-1412) took charge of the Danish monarchy at the death of Waldemar III. She had married Hakon VI of Norway (1355-80 ), and their young son Olaf was proclaimed king of Denmark (1376-87) since the Salic Law excluded her own direct reign. Though never technically queen-regnant, Margaret remained the real ruler in Denmark until her death in 1412, and presently she brought the other Scandinavian realms under her control. When her husband died in 1380, her son Olaf was proclaimed king of Norway, so that Margaret assumed the regency of that kingdom as well. When her son died in 1387 without reaching maturity, Margaret adopted her grandnephew, Eric of Pomerania, and continued to administer Danish and Norwegian affairs during another minority. Such was her success in ruling that in 1389 the Swedes, having deposed their foreign king, Albert of Mecklenburg, offered her their throne. This personal consolidation of the three kingdoms was formally proclaimed in 1397 at Kalmar: Eric of Pomerania (1389-1439) was saluted as the common king, though he did not exercise personal control during Margaret’s lifetime. A vague constitution provided for a common foreign policy and defense forces, while each country was left under its own internal laws. Under Margaret’s own administration the Union of Kalmar worked quite well: she repressed the [p. 67] nobles, preserved order, and regained some crown lands, though her attempt to annex German Schleswig proved a costly mistake.

    Ecclesiastical progress took place under Margaret’s rule. The queen was herself a pious and practicing Catholic, zealous for the good of the Church. She used her influence to stimulate the instruction of the people. The Sunday Epistles and Gospels were translated into the vernacular, and doctrinal treatises made available. She promoted proper rendition of the liturgy and contributed to the erection or restoration of churches and to the foundation of schools. It was due to her efforts that Danish clerical and monastic discipline was perhaps superior to that elsewhere on the eve of the Lutheran revolt. But her influence upon the Norwegian and Swedish clergy was proportionately less. Still Archbishop Gerhardson of Lund made use of the unification to hold the first plenary council of Scandinavia. This meeting at Helsingfors in 1394 was attended not only by bishops from the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but by prelates from the Norse ruled Faroe and Orkney Islands.






    Eric the Pomeranian (1397-1439) proved incapable of continuing Queen Margaret’s successful policies. His obstinacy and violence, combined with his German birth, were not calculated to soothe the feelings of his Scandinavian subjects. His partiality toward German retainers alienated many, while the nobles were granted new privileges to enlist their assistance in the disastrous Schleswig war inherited from Margaret. This terminated in failure, for in 1432 the Hanseatic League joined Eric’s foes to inflict upon him a severe defeat. In the same year the king had a sharp conflict with the chapter of Upsala, just one example of the resentment caused by his intrusion of foreigners into Swedish and Norwegian benefices. Archbishop Peter Luecke of Lund, however, held a noteworthy national council at Copenhagen (1425) and restrained Eric’s aggression until his own death in 1436. Then Eric’s incompetence was judged intolerable. Rebellion broke out in all three kingdoms; he fled the country in 1438 and was formally deposed a year later.

    Christopher III (1440-48 ), Eric’s nephew, was elected by the Danish council to succeed him, though Sweden delayed some months and Norway two years in recognizing him. The new king procured acknowledgement of his claims only at the expense of new concessions to the nobility which greatly paralyzed royal authority.

    Christian I (1448-81), Christopher’s brother-in-law, followed him on the throne, although his rule was disputed in Sweden. King Christian belonged to the Oldenburg dynasty which has continued to reign in Denmark [p. 68] until the twentieth century. He was exceptionally devoted to the Church, and went on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1474. During 1479 he set up the University of Copenhagen, which developed into a Scandinavian Renaissance center and later became a critical point in the religious disputes. The king enjoyed the friendship and loyal co-operation of Archbishop Tycho of Lund (1443-72), who disapproved of Swedish efforts to dissolve the Kalmar Union.

    King Hans (1481-1513), Christian’s amiable but not overly able son, maintained his titular position at the head of the Union by repeated concessions to the nobility. At the same time he aimed to exalt the prelates, though the lower clergy remained poor. Cautiously Hans tried to ally himself with the burgher class against the nobility. This policy was seconded by his son and heir, Prince Christian, who issued a charter to Oslo in 1508. This was a forerunner of a new bid for royal Absolutism which would take place during his own reign and would precipitate the religious changes. The primatial see continued in good hands. Archbishop Brostorp (1472-95) issued the first statutes for Copenhagen University, and Archbishop Gunnarsson (1497-1519) was a pious and learned prelate and as long as he lived, the Catholic faith and the rights of the clergy were stoutly defended.




B. Norwegian Subordination (1319-1513)




   (1) SWEDISH DOMINATION (1319-80)


    Magnus (1319-74). Norway’s native Sigurdson dynasty was extinguished with the death of Hakon V in 1319. His daughter, Princess Ingeborg, had married Duke Eric of Finland, who had been slain in 1317 by his elder brother, King Birger of Sweden. This murder had led to Birger’s deposition in 1319, and the proclamation of Magnus, the infant son of Eric and Ingeborg, as king of both Sweden and Norway. During his long minority the nobility intrigued with the incompetent princess-regent, and reasserted feudal freedom. When Magnus assumed personal charge in 1333, his good intentions were not matched by his ability. As a Swede, he was prone to neglect Norway for his native land, and his efforts to introduce a common legal code for both countries were unappreciated in Norway.

    Hakon VI (1355-80). Some improvement came when Magnus in 1355 delegated authority in Norway to his second son Hakon, who eventually succeeded to the Norwegian crown. Nevertheless, disputes with his father and his elder brother Eric who held a similar vice-royalty in Sweden, hindered the peace. The Black Death lingered with particular virulence in Norway and added to the general misery. By his marriage with Margaret Valdemarsdatter in 1363, King Hakon became  [p. 69] allied to the Danish monarchy. His assistance enabled her to proclaim their son Olaf as king of Denmark at Waldemar’s death in 1375, but his own demise in 1380 substituted Danish domination for Swedish.


   (2) DANISH ASCENDANCY (1380-1513)


    Norwegian political eclipse followed. Practically in 1380 and formally in 1397, Norway became a subordinate part of the Danish Monarchy. Her status in the Union of Kalmar was that of a comparatively neglected outlying province, and she regained independence momentarily in 1814, merely to be handed in 1815 to Sweden to undergo another century of foreign domination. Only with the choice of another Hakon (VII) in 1905 did the Norwegians regain complete control of their government. From 1380, then, Norwegian history closely follows that of Denmark. Though the metropolitan see of Trondjem-Nidaros continued to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Norway until the Protestant Revolt, Danish court policy used its patronage in favor of alien nominees. Both Queen Margaret and Eric of Pomerania made use of papal provisions to install friends or protégés in Norwegian benefices. Most of these were Danes prone to exalt the interests of the Danish-controlled Union of Kalmar over local wishes. Though it is possible that Danish standards of clerical discipline were higher than those prevalent in Norway, improvement from without clashed with nationalism. But Norwegians, though restive under foreign rule, were long unsuccessful in throwing it off.




C. Swedish Individuality (1319-1513)









Magnus III (1319-65) was that son of Eric and Ingeborg whose accession to the Swedish and Norwegian thrones has just been mentioned. In Sweden, the government was often administered by aristocratic regents who obscured the royal authority. From 1335 to 1341 Magnus and his wife Blanche had the services of Madame Gudmarsson, better known as St. Bridget (1303-73) . Repeatedly she admonished them for frivolity and extravagance, and the king did from time to time make partial reparation. After her departure for Rome in 1349, the court lost a plainspoken counsellor. In bungling and inconsistent fashion Magnus tried to regain some of his royal prerogatives, but his codification of Swedish law (1347) merely crystallized aristocratic privileges. The nobility played Magnus’s son Eric against him, and finally replaced the family with Albert of Mecklenburg.

    Albert (1365-89) served merely as a figurehead for a nobility determined to have its own way. When they grew tired of him, the nobles [p. 70] offered the throne to Margaret Valdemarsdatter. Albert was defeated and captured in trying to defend himself, and Sweden passed under the rule of the great Danish princess.






    Though some Swedish pirates held out against the Union of Kalmar until 1395, Archbishop Karlsson of Upsala (1384-1408) gave it his endorsement. In 1396 he assembled the Synod of Arborga to renew ancient statutes, and in the following year participated in the solemn coronation of Eric of Pomerania. But as in Norway, Margaret and Eric introduced too many aliens into official positions to please the local nobility. Between 1432 and 1435 the Upsala chapter resisted Eric’s nominee, Arnold of Bergen, and eventually had its own provost, Olaf Larsson, confirmed by the Holy See.

    In 1435 the peasant leader Engelbrektsson led a rebellion against Eric’s authority and was chosen regent by the Swedish Diet. Thereafter national regencies nullified the Union of Kalmar in all but name for long periods. Karl Bonde Knuttson maintained himself as regent and king from 1449 to 1470, and thereafter until 1520 three members of the Sture family held the regency in Sweden almost uninterruptedly.

    The clergy were involved in these struggles on both sides, though as a whole they favored the Union. Archbishop Ulfsson (1469-1514) took part in the foundation of Upsala University in 1477 and introduced the first Swedish printing press in 1483. But the next Swedish primate, Gustav Trolle, proved too much of a politician on behalf of the Danish ascendancy for the Swedes, and thus furnished a pretext for the last of the regents, Gustav Vasa, to declare Sweden’s independence not only from Denmark, but also from Rome.



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