The night was stormy; rain was falling in torrents when the modern Charlemagne, unable to move, was borne in a litter by the light of torches across steep mountain paths with a swiftness most surprising; terror adding wings to the footsteps of his bearers, lest they and their gouty burden should fall into the hands of the heretic army, said to be in pursuit.
Continuing Collapse Of The Power Of Charles V ,
our selection from The Court of France in the Sixteenth Century: 1514-1559 by Lady Catherine Charlotte Jackson published in 1886. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in four easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Collapse Of The Power Of Charles V.
The city of Verdun followed the example of Toul; so that Henry’s defense of the liberties of Germany was thus far nothing more than a military promenade, with grand public entries, banquets, and general festivity. The inhabitants of Metz — like the rest of his conquests, French in language and manners — petitioned the King not to restore their city to the empire, of which it had been a vassal republic from the beginning of the feudal era; they feared the Emperor’s revenge. Henry, however, had no thought of relinquishing Metz; he was too well pleased with his new possession, and “proposed to make it one of the ramparts of France.”
But while Henry for the defense of German independence was making conquests and annexing them to his dominions, Charles V had fled before Maurice’s vigorous pursuit, and had only escaped capture by a mere mischance that briefly retarded his pursuers’ progress. When Augsburg was taken, Charles felt that he was not safe at Innsbruck. He was neither in a position to crush the rebellious princes nor to resist the invasion of the King of France. Want of means had induced him to disband a large part of his army; Mexico and Peru for some time had failed to make any remittances to his treasury; the bankers of Venice and Genoa were not willing to lend him money, and it was only by placing Piombino in the hands of Cosmo de’ Medici that he obtained from him the small sum of two hundred thousand crowns.
His first impulse was to endeavor to pass over the route of the Netherlands by the valleys of the Inn and the Rhine; but as he could only move, owing to his gout, from place to place in a litter, he was compelled, from physical suffering, after proceeding a very short distance on his journey, to return to Innsbruck. There he remained with a small body of soldiers sufficient to guard himself personally — having sent all he could possibly spare to hold the mountain pass leading to the almost inaccessible castle of Ehrenberg. But, guided by a shepherd, the heights of Ehrenberg were reached by the troops under George of Brandenburg, after infinite fatigue and danger. The walls were scaled, and the garrison, terrified by the appearance of this unlooked-for enemy, threw down their arms and surrendered.
A few hours only separated Innsbruck from Ehrenberg, and Maurice proposed to push on rapidly so as to anticipate the arrival there of any accounts of the loss of the castle, hoping to surprise the Emperor and his attendants in an open, defenseless town, and there to dictate conditions of peace. The dissatisfaction of a portion of the troops at not immediately receiving the usual gratuity for taking a place by assault occasioned a short delay in the advance of Maurice’s army. He arrived at Innsbruck in the middle of the night, and learned that the Emperor had fled only two hours before to Carinthia, followed by his ministers and attendants, on foot, on horses, in litters, as they could, but in the greatest hurry and confusion.
The night was stormy; rain was falling in torrents when the modern Charlemagne, unable to move, was borne in a litter by the light of torches across steep mountain paths with a swiftness most surprising; terror adding wings to the footsteps of his bearers, lest they and their gouty burden should fall into the hands of the heretic army, said to be in pursuit. But pursuit was soon given up, for the troops were worn and weary with forced marches and climbing the heights of Ehrenberg; they needed rest, and there was the imperial palace of Innsbruck to pillage, Maurice having given it up to them.
Negotiations for peace were opened on May 20th at Passau on the Danube. The King of France was informed of this, it being found necessary to put some check on his proceedings; to remind him that he was the “defender of the liberties of Germany,” not Germany’s oppressor. He and his army had advanced into Alsace, and Montmorency had assured him that it would be “as easy to enter Strasburg and other cities of the Rhine as to penetrate butter.” However, when they knocked at the gates of Strasbourg and courteously requested that the Venetian, Florentine, and other ambassadors might be permitted to enter and admire the beautiful city, they found the Strasbourgers insensible to these amenities — butter by no means easily melted; for not only they refused to gratify the soi-disant ambassadors with a sight of their fine city, but mounted and pointed their cannon, as a hint to their visitors that they would do well to withdraw.
Henry, perceiving that he would be unable in the present campaign to extend his dominions to the banks of the Rhine, contented himself, “before turning his back on it, with the fact that the horses of his army had drunk of the waters of that stream.” The Austrian expedition was less brilliant in its results than he had expected; nevertheless, whether he was to be included in the peace then negotiating or not, he resolved to retain the three bishoprics — Toul, Metz, and Verdun.
Meanwhile the conference of Passau, between Maurice with his princes of the league on the one part; Ferdinand, King of the Romans, and the Emperor’s plenipotentiaries on the other, proceeded less rapidly than Maurice desired. By prolonging the negotiation Charles hoped to gain time to assemble an army, when the Catholic princes might rally around him. But even those who had joined the league were exceedingly lukewarm toward their Emperor; his despotism, they considered, being as dangerous to them as to the Protestants. Even his brother Ferdinand — who was on such excellent terms with Maurice that it would almost seem that he had connived at an enterprise he could not openly join in — is said to have seen with satisfaction the check put on Charles by the dauntless leader of the league.
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