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with astonishing rapidity by swellings of the groin them into more vigorous action. The flame of and armpits, which in a short time became large superstition spread as if by magic. Hundreds of boils. But the most deadly symptoms of all were men, and even of boys, paraded the streets bearing large black, or deep-blue spots, which, in a great heavy crosses and lashing their naked shoulders with proportion of cases, showed themselves in different scourges. They marched in regular parties, with parts of the body; hence the pestilence was com- banners, keeping time to the melody of a rude monly called the “black death.” Its effects on dif- hymn, which they chanted in chorus. ferent constitutions were various; some became The pope viewed these irregular proceedings with sleepy and stupid, and continued in a lethargic alarm. A sentence of excommunication being isstate until their death; others could rest neither sued against them, one of their leaders, who preday nor night; the tongue and throat were black, tended to be the Messiah, was burnt at Erfurt. as if filled with coagulated blood, and they were Whilst the plague was at its height the Germans tormented by an insatiable thirst. In addition to thought to appease the wrath of God by a persecuthese symptoms, which were its characteristics in tion of the Jews, who were accused of having occaAsia, the disease in Europe attacked the lungs, sioned it by poisoning the wells. Nothing could which sent out a noisome breath, filling the whole restrain the fury of the populace. The persecution air with infection. Medical aid was unavailing, nor began in Bern. In all the cities of the Rhine and could it indeed be easily obtained; for, as the dis- Danube, the Jews were cruelly massacred. At order was undoubtedly contagious, not only phy- Strasburg 2,000 of them were burnt on one pile. sicians, but even the nearest and most affectionate At length the plague began gradually to subside, relatives, fled from the house of death, leaving the and ceased altogether towards the end of the year sick to expire alone and unassisted. Whole villages 1349. and towns were thus left without a single inhabitant, or even a domestic animal, for the plague was Wenceslaus, who succeeded his father in 1378, was as fatal to dogs, cats, and swine, as to the human in character and manner his reverse. The Germans

It has been calculated that one-fourth of thought him a fool; the Bohemians felt him to be the population of Europe fell victims to this ter- a tyrant. rible scourge. The Franciscans, or Minorites, num- In Bohemia he committed acts of almost insane bered their dead, and found that they had lost cruelty. On one occasion the nobles whom he 124,434-a proof both of the violence of the plague had invited to an entertainment found three tents and the immense increase of their order since its pitched, of different colors, black, white, and red. first establishment. Women also formed themselves The king himself occupied the black tent, into into societies for the purpose of attending on the which the guests were marshalled one by one, and sick and dying. These were called Benguines, required to declare what possessions of the crown probably from the old Saxon word began, to serve. were in their occupation. Those who readily sur

The nucleus of such societies had existed ever rendered their lands were then ushered into the since the eleventh century, but they were called into white and sumptuously feasted; while the recusants more especial activity by the unhappy circumstances were hurried away to the red and beheaded by the of the times. Thus far they acted on the purest common executioner. At another of his entertainand most Christian principles; but the superstition ments the guests beheld with dismay a man of feroof the age being dissatisfied with the plain duties of cious appearance, who stood leaning on an axe, as practical piety, and deeming it necessary to propiti- if in expectation of some command from the king. ate the Deity by some extraordinary sacrifice, another “Wait until after dinner,” said the tyrant to this sect arose, who believed that the infliction of tor- grim functionary; “thou wilt have work enough tures on their own persons would be the surest mode then.” The unfortunate visitors, who were persons of turning aside the wrath of the Almighty. These of no less importance than the burgomaster and fanaties were called the Flagellante, or Scourgers. town council of Prague, were fain to laugh at this The brotherhood had existed since the year 1260, sharp jest, as the only means of saving their lives, but the horrors of the present eventful time called and after eating and drinking with what appetite



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they might, to make all the concessions which their The brother of Wenceslaus, Sigismund, was now sovereign demanded. At table he was generally elected by one party, and Jodocus of Moravia by surrounded by a pack of bloodhounds, which in another. The two rival popes had both been set his drunken fits he would set on his guests, or even aside by a council held at Pisa in 1409, and a new on his wife, who was repeatedly torn by the ferocious pontiff elected: but the others refused to resign, so animals, as she lay in bed. Even the ministers of ,

that in the year 1411 Germany had three emperors, religion were sometimes exposed to the fury of his and the Christian world witnessed the 'unedifying ungovernable temper. His second wife had a con- spectacle of three popes, each claiming for himself fessor named John of Nepomuk, from whom Wen- the infallibility supposed to reside in the legitimate ceslaus had often tried to extort the secrets of the successor of St. Peter. confessional, but the priest, faithful to his ordination The difficulty, however, with regard to the emvow, had always refused to gratify this unjustifiable pire was removed within a few months by the death curiosity. At length, wearied out by the importu- of Jodocus, and Sigismund remained undisputed ocnities and threats of the tyrant, he boldly declared cupant of the imperial throne. Sigismund gave at that he would rather die than commit so deadly a his election a specimen of his arrogant character. sin. “Sayest thou so, sir priest?” was the retort; "There is no prince in the empire," said he, “with “then by the heaven above us thou shalt have thy whose merits I am so fully acquainted as with my wish. Bind this monk hand and foot and throw own. I am surpassed by none-either in power or him into the Moldau.” John was canonized in 1729, in the prudence with which I have ruled, whether and became the patron of bridges.

in prosperity or adversity. Therefore do I, as elecSigismund, elector of Brandenburg, the second tor of Brandenburg, give my vote to Sigismund, son of the late emperor, fearing lest these continued king of Hungary, and will that he be elected king extravagances should bring disgrace and ruin on of Germany." their house, placed the person of his brother under At the beginning of his reign, the great object of restraint; but the cunning madman contrived to his ambition was to play the part of a reformer in elude the vigilance of his keepers by plunging into church affairs. The great council of Constance the Moldau under pretence of bathing, and swim- held its sittings in the hall of the Kaufhaus, a long ming to a boat rowed by a young girl named Su- room supported by wooden pillars. It began its sanna, he was conveyed safely to the opposite bank. sessions on the 28th of November, 1414. It had The electors determined to set him aside, and in been decided that this assembly should consist of 1400 chose Count Palatine Rupert.

bishops, doctors of the universities, and temporal Rupert, the new emperor, was a man of courage princes or their ambassadors; the secular power beand action, but being coldly supported even by the ing represented by the emperor, all the electors, nobles who elected him, possessed little more than and a crowd of nobles, who appeared as the plenithe shadow of imperial power. An attempt which potentiaries of foreign sovereigns. The spiritual he made in conjunction with Leopold of Austria to representatives were three patriarchs, thirty-three force his way through Italy to Rome, ended in a cardinals, forty-seven archbishops, one hundred and disgraceful defeat at Brescia, where Leopold was forty-five bishops, one hundred and twenty-four abtaken prisoner. Rupert, returning to Germany, re- bots, one thousand and eight hundred priests, seven sided there till his death in 1411. Wenceslaus hundred and fifty doctors, and many monks. Of survived him, but made no attempt to regain his the three rival popes John XXIII. alone came in rights. Of the epistolatory talents of Wenceslaus person. Independently of those immediately enthere is a curious specimen still extant in the form gaged in the council, the number of persons whom of a letter to the citizens of Rotenburg, written in curiosity or the love of gain attracted to Constance answer to their refusal to advance him 4,000 florins. is reported to have been at least one hundred and “To our unfaithful men of Rotenburg, who are

fifty thousand, among whom were mountebanks, disobedient unto the empire. The devil began to

buffoons, and actors brought from England who sheer a hog, and spake thus, 'Great cry and little represented mysteries, or scenes from Scripture hiswool.' Rex.”

tory, an exhibition which seems to have given the


Germans the first taste for dramatic, performances. The nations whose representatives appeared at Constance are thus described by a contemporary writer: “ The Germans are enduring as well as impetuous, the French boastful and arrogant, the English prompt and sagacious, the Italians subtle and intriguing.” The northern party (that is to say, the Germans, French, and English), with the emperor at their head, and supported by the talent of the French cardinal d'Ailly, and of Gerson, the celebrated chancellor of the university of Paris, having carried a resolution that the votes should be taken according to nations (an arrangement which deprived the Italian cardinals and bishops of the weight which their suffrages would have possessed if the spiritual and temporal deputies had voted in separate bodies), now went a step farther, and declared that the council was superior to the popes, who were all called on to resign their usurped dignities. Gregory XII. submitted to this decree of the council, and became a simple cardinal. John who, after laying down his insignia, had attempted to recover his rights by force, was condemned to imprisonment in the castle of Heidelberg, where he remained until the year 1418. The third pope,

, Benedict XIII., who was in Spain, continued to bid defiance to their proclamations. Having thus humbled the popes, the council of Constance proceeded to take cognizance of those heresies which had lately disturbed the peace of the church. The university of Prague had been celebrated ever since its establishment in 1348 for the learning and talent of its professors. Among these was John Huss, who had read the writings of Wickliffe, which the marriage of Anne, the sister of Wenceslaus, with Richard II. of England, had been the means of introducing into Bohemia. As early as the year 1401, Huss had maintained that the pope was no greater than any other bishop, that useless holidays ought to be abolished, that the doctrine of purgatory had no foundation in Scripture, that confirmation and extreme unction were not sacraments, that auricular confession was a vain thing, that altars, priestly vestments, images and consecrated vessels were useless, and that prayer need not be offered up in churches, for the whole earth being the Lord's, any spot of it might be used as his temple. He also contended that the sacrament of the Lord's supper ought to be received in both kinds by the

laity, and that the bread and wine in the Eucharist were not transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ, but that the real body and blood were received after a spiritual and mysterious fashion. In the dissemination of these doctrines he was assisted by his friend and pupil Jerome Faulfisch, commonly called Jerome of Prague; and, in spite of opposition, these two men continued to lecture and preach at Prague and elsewhere, until they were summoned to appear before the council. Both John Huss and Jerome of Prague having been condemned, were burnt alive at the stake.

In the year 1438, the emperor Sigismund died, and with him ended the Luxemburg dynasty.

Sigismund's brother-in-law Albert was, in 1438, elected to the throne of Germany, which from that period to the dissolution of the empire continued to be filled in an almost uninterrupted succession by the princes of the House of Austria. Albert dying two years subsequently, his cousin Frederick of Styria was placed as guardian over the infant Ladislaus. Frederick's whole time was spent in the study of astrology, the cultivation of his garden, and the scholastic amusement of capping verses, and yet he was destined to reign fifty-three years, "the imperial crown having now become a nightcap."

In Hungary the infant Ladislaus, son of the late emperor, had been crowned by the German party; but a threatened invasion of the Turks rendering it necessary to have a man of action at the head of the government, the people chose Ladislaus of Poland, who was conquered and slain by the Turks at Varna soon after his election. In Bohemia the German Ladislaus was universally recognized as king, but the powers of government were exercised by the heads of two factions, Meinhard and Ptaczek. After the death of the latter, George of Podiebrad, a brave warrior, became leader of the more popular party, surprised Prague, threw his rival into prison, and was made sole regent. In Austria, one Sitzinger, a native of Bavaria, exercised unlimited influence over the states: thus in each of the hereditary dominions of the emperor and his ward, the people were ruled with absolute authority by a power almost independent of the indolent Frederick and his young cousin. In 1452 the emperor married the beautiful Eleanor of Portugal, who met him at Sienna in Italy; and after his coronation


the marriage was celebrated with great pomp at mestic happiness which had begun so auspiciously Naples, the fountains of the city being made to run was destroyed by a lamentable accident. His beauwith wine, and tables spread for the entertainment tiful wife, who had borne him a son and a daughter, of 30,000 guests. The following year the city of died in 1482, in consequence of a fall from her Constantinople was taken by sultan Mahomet II., horse, leaving Maximilian to struggle not only with and the eastern empire destroyed. All Christendom the grief occasioned by her death, but with the fury was horror-struck at the intelligence of this disas- of the discontented Netherlanders, who now con. ter, and Pope Nicholas proclaimed a crusade against sidered themselves absolved from their allegiance. the Turks.

At Liége the citizens rose against their bishop, and The defence of eastern Europe was left to the admitted William de la Marek, generally called "the Hungarians, who stormed Belgrade, and drove the Wild Boar of Ardennes," into the city. After putTurks across the Danube. Ladislaus, king of Po- ting the bishop to death, this adventurer took posland, dying in 1457, the people elected Matthias session of the place in the name of France, but was Corvinus to the throne, while the Bohemians chose soon afterwards beheaded by Maximilian, who had the brave George of Podiebrad to be their king. recently concluded a treaty of peace with the French George of Bohemia died in 1471, and was succeeded king. The Flemings, however, still refused to subby Ladislaus, king of Poland.

mit to a prince who neither understood nor valued Frederick, despised by all, and so poor that his their privileges. At Bruges the citizens, mistaking horses were seized by a farrier, and kept as security the evolutions of his mercenaries for an attack, disfor his bill, had now the additional misery of bodily played the thirty-two banners of their guilds, and suffering. An abscess in one of his feet, occasioned marching to the market-place disarmed the troops, by his constant habit of opening doors with a kick, and took Maximilian prisoner. Even the emperor had rendered amputation necessary, and as he lay was roused by this insult, and sent a German army in pain he uttered the desponding exclamation, into Flanders which speedily compelled the people “better be a sound beggar, than a sick Roman em- of Bruges to release his son. During these events peror.” His only hope now lay in marrying his Matthias of Hungary had invaded Austria, and young son Maximilian to Mary, the daughter and made himself master of Vienna, which was retaken heiress of Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy. by the imperialists in 1490.

At a meeting of the two sovereigns at Trèves the At length in the year 1493 Frederick ended his hand of the young Burgundian princess was formally long and inglorious reign. No emperor had reigned demanded by the emperor on behalf of his son. so long and done so little for his native country. But an unexpected obstacle arose: Charles wished The grandfather of Charles of Burgundy had to be recognized as king of Burgundy, whilst Fred- been a prisoner at Constantinople, where he imerick was anxious that at least the marriage should bibed notions of magnificence, which he put into be solemnized before he gave his consent to such an practice on his return to Burgundy. His son Philip assumption of dignity. This difference of opinion followed his example; and both were outdone by produced a misunderstanding which was aggravated Charles, whose court was the most brilliant in Euby the intrigues of Louis XI. of France, and Fred- rope. The boundless wealth of the Netherlands, erick quitted Trèves in disgust. After her father's then the great emporium of manufactures, provided death Mary succeeded in persuading the Nether- him with inexhaustible funds for the gratification landers to seek an alliance with Maximilian, who of his expensive inclinations. His court glittered joyfully obeyed the summons, and entered the city with jewels, gold, and the richest productions of of Ghent clad in bright armor, with no covering on the Flemish loom. Brussels set the fashion of dress his head except a bridal circlet of gold, studded with to all Europe. Instead of the simple garb of their precious stones, which was wreathed in his long fair ancestors, the men now wore hats with waving hair. His affianced bride came out to meet him at plumes, puffed sleeves and hose, and the women the head of a gallant train of nobles and ladies, and Turkish caps, with long veils hanging down behind. falling on her knees by his side welcomed him with Theatrical representations and masques, or mummerexpressions of the tenderest affection. But the do- ies, formed a principal part of the amusements of

this luxurious court. The Strasburg Chronicle contains a curious account of Charles's wedding feast on the occasion of his marriage with Margaret of York, sister of Edward IV. of England, “Anno 1468; he held his marriage feast at Bruges; there was much costly pomp, and the dining hall was hung with cloth of gold. He and the bride wore golden robes. On the table stood fifty ships laden with roast meat, and by each ship a boat full of vegetables. Then came a lion, out of the jaws of which four singers sang harmoniously; then a griffin, out of which there flew a flock of birds; then a tower, from the windows whereof six bears growled a bass; and these were followed by wolves and he-goats with pipes and flutes, and lastly by asses, which sang deliciously. Then the apes danced a Moorish dance round the tower. Lastly there came a whale, out of which twelve wild men sprang and fought with one another. The dinner was every day set on table in eight hundred great silver dishes."


The art of printing with moveable metal types was invented by John Guttenberg, or Gutemberg, at Mayence, about the year 1440. Twelve years before that period Coster of Haarlem is said to have printed playing cards and elementary school books upon wood, each page consisting of a single block (block books, as they are called), but this only probably led the way to metal types, of single letters cast in a mould capable of being employed successively in different works-in short, the art of printing. The first printed book bearing a date is an impression of the Psalms, which appeared in 1457. In conjunction with his partners, Fust and Schæffer, Guttenberg brought the art to such perfection that he was enabled in the year 1462 to publish a complete edition of the Latin Scriptures, which was sold for thirty gold florins a copy. Previously to the invention of printing the price had been from four hundred to five hundred.

back to the plain. At another time he exhibited himself to the citizens of Ulm, standing with one foot on the balustrade of the cathedral tower, and enjoyed the applause which this foolhardy exploit drew from the crowd below. His memorandum book still exists, and exhibits a curious picture of his character, as well as of the times.

There are sundry little notices of how such and such a fish was taken, and how it was dressed; how such and such a weapon was forged; what allowance the governor of a distant fortress required for his support; where a pretty story might be read, and so forth. He himself dictated a history of his life to his private secretary, under the allegorical title of the “White King." A metrical biography (Theuerdank, the Adventurer) was also written by Pfinzing, of Nuremberg. But these are rather the records of a knight-errant's romantic exploits, than chronicles of an imperial reign. From time to time, nevertheless, flashes of the old Hohenstaufen spirit blazed forth. He would march against the Turks, again incorporate Italy with the empire, chastise the insolence of France: in a word, act the part of a mighty German emperor.

A post-office was established, under the direction of the count of Thurn and Taxis; but the badness of the roads rendered it almost useless. In order to obtain funds for the exigencies of the empire, Maximilian prevailed on the states to grant a subsidy for four years, called the “common penny," which was a sort of property-tax of one penny in the thousand; but this contribution, insignificant as it appears, was very irregularly paid, and the emperor remained as poor as ever.

Even a subsidy for the defence of the empire against the Turks was refused, on the plea that Italy, Burgundy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands contributed nothing. It was in this reign that the empire was first divided into circles. Germany was filled with electorates, dukedoms, earldoms, bishopries, imperial cities, etc., which jealously insisted on their independence, though none of them separately was strong enough to maintain order. To remedy this state of things, a union of the different states had been effected in Swabia for the purpose of mutual protection. This example was now followed throughout the empire, which was divided into ten circles, each forming a union like that of Swabia. These circles were Austria, Bavaria, Franconia, Swabia, Upper Rhine,

Maximilian I., 1493–1519, was in person such a hero as minstrels love to celebrate in their songs of chivalry. In the Tyrol is still shown the steep precipice, called the Martinswand (Wall of St. Martin), where he lost his way in pursuit of the chamois, and could neither advance nor descend, until, as the legend tells, an angel appeared and guided him

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