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Career of Charlemagne, by Guizot, Francois P. G.

Life of Charlemagne

World History Center

Holy Roman Empire, The
Book: Chapter XVII: The Renaissance: Change In The Character Of The Empire.
Author: Bryce, James
Date: 1901

Page Eighteen

Chapter XVII: The Renaissance: Change In The Character Of The Empire.

In Frederick the Third's reign the Empire sank to its lowest point. It
had shot forth a fitful gleam under Sigismund, who in convoking and presiding
over the council of Constance had revived one of the highest functions of his
predecessors. The precedents of the first great oecumenical councils, and
especially of the council of Nicaea, had established the principle that it
belonged to the Emperor, even more properly than to the Pope, to convoke
ecclesiastical assemblies from the whole Christian world. The tenet commended
itself to the reforming party in the church, headed by Gerson, the chancellor
of Paris, whose aim it was, while making no changes in matters of faith, to
correct the abuses which had grown up in discipline and government, and limit
the power of the Popes by exalting the authority of general councils, to whom
there was now attributed an immunity from error superior to that, whatever it
might be, which resided in the successor of Peter. And although it was only
the sacerdotal body, not the whole Christian people, who were thus made the
exponents of the universal religious consciousness, the doctrine was
nevertheless a foreshadowing of that fuller freedom which was soon to follow.
The existence of the Holy Empire and the existence of general councils were,
as has been already remarked, necessary parts of one and the same theory ^1,
and it was therefore more than a coincidence that the last occasion on which
the whole of Latin Christendom met to deliberate and act as a single
commonwealth ^2, was also the last on which that commonwealth's lawful
temporal head appeared in the exercise of his international functions. Never
afterwards was he, in the eyes of Europe, anything more than a German monarch.

[Footnote 1: It is not without interest to observe that the council of Basel
shewed signs of reciprocating imperial care by claiming those very rights over
the Empire to which the Popes were accustomed to pretend.]

[Footnote 2: The councils of Basel and Florence were not recognized from first
to last by all Europe, as was the council of Constance. When the assembly of
Trent met, the great religious schism had already made a general council, in
the true sense of the word, impossible.]

It might seem doubtful whether he would long remain a monarch at all.
When in A.D. 1493 the calamitous reign of Frederick the Third ended, it was
impossible for the princes to see with unconcern the condition into which
their selfishness and turbulence had brought the Empire. The time was indeed
critical. Hitherto the Germans had been protected rather by the weakness of
their enemies than by their own strength. From France there had been little
to fear while the English menaced her on one side and the Burgundian dukes on
the other: from England still less while she was torn by the strife of York
and Lancaster. But now throughout Western Europe the power of the feudal
oligarchies was broken; and its chief countries were being, by the
establishment of fixed rules of succession and the absorption of the smaller
into the larger principalities, rapidly built up into compact and aggressive
military monarchies. Thus Spain became a great state by the union of Castile
and Aragon, and the conquest of the Moors of Granada. Thus in England there
arose the popular despotism of the Tudors. Thus France, enlarged and
consolidated under Lewis the Eleventh and his successors, began to acquire
that predominant influence on the politics of Europe which her commanding
geographical position, the martial spirit of her people, and, it must be
added, the unscrupulous ambition of her rulers, have secured to her in every
succeeding century. Meantime there had appeared in the far East a foe still
more terrible. The capture of Constantinople gave the Turks a firm hold on
Europe, and inspired them with the hope of effecting in the fifteenth century
what Abderrahman and his Saracens had so nearly effected in the eighth - of
establishing the faith of Islam through all the provinces that obeyed the
Western as well as the Eastern Caesars. The navies of the Ottoman Sultans
swept the Mediterranean; their well-appointed armies pierced Hungary and
threatened Vienna.

Nor was it only that formidable enemies had arisen without: the frontiers
of Germany herself were exposed by the loss of those adjoining territories
which had formerly owned allegiance to the Emperors. Poland, once tributary,
had shaken off the yoke at the interregnum, and had recently wrested West
Prussia from the Teutonic knights, and compelled their Grand Master to swear
allegiance for East Prussia, which they still retained. Bohemia, where German
culture had struck deeper roots, remained a member of the Empire; but the
privileges she had obtained from Charles the Fourth, and the subsequent
acquisition of Silesia and Moravia, made her virtually independent. The
restless Hungarians avenged their former vassalage to Germany by frequent
inroads on her eastern border.

Imperial power in Italy ended with the life of Henry the Seventh. Rupert
did indeed cross the Alps, but it was as the hireling of Florence; Frederick
the Third received the Lombard crown, but it no longer conveyed the slightest
power. In the beginning of the fourteenth century Dante still hopes the
renovation of his country from the action of the Teutonic Emperors. Some fifty
years later Matthew Villani sees clearly that they do not and cannot reign to
any purpose south of the Alps ^1. Nevertheless the phantom of imperial
authority lingers on for a time. It is put forward by the Ghibeline tyrants
of the cities to justify their attacks on their Guelfic neighbours: even
resolute republicans like the Florentines do not yet venture altogether to
reject it, however unwilling to permit its exercise. Before the middle of the
fifteenth century, the names of Guelf and Ghibeline had ceased to have any
sense or meaning; the Pope was no longer the protector nor the Emperor the
assailant of municipal freedom, for municipal freedom itself had well-nigh
disappeared. But the old war-cries of the Church and the Empire were still
repeated as they had been three centuries before, and the rival principles
that had once enlisted the noblest spirits of Italy on one or other side had
now sunk into a pretext for wars of aggrandizement or of mere unmeaning hate.
That which had been remarked long before in Greece was seen to be true here;
the spirit of faction outlived the cause of faction, and became itself the new
and prolific source of a useless, endless strife.

[Footnote 1: 'E pero venendo gl' imperadori della Magna col supremo titolo, e
volendo col senno e colla forza della Magna reggiere gli Italiani, non lo
fanno e non lo possono fare.' - M. Villani, iv. 77.

Matthew Villani's etymology of the two great faction names of Italy is
worth quoting, as a fair sample of the skill of mediaevals in such matters: -
'La Italia tutta e divisa mistamente in due parti, l' una che seguita ne'
fatti del mondo la santa chiesa - e questi son dinominati Guelfi; cioe,
guardatori di fe. E l'altra parte sequitano lo 'imperio o fedele o enfedele
che sia delle cose del mondo a santa chiesa. E chiamansi Ghibellini, quasi
guida belli; cioe, guidatori di battaglie.']

After Frederick the Third no Emperor was crowned in Rome, and almost the
only trace of that connection between Germany and Italy, to maintain which so
much had been risked and lost, was to be found in the obstinate belief of the
Hapsburg Emperors, that their own claims, though often purely dynastic and
personal, could be enforced by an appeal to the imperial rights of their
predecessors. Because Barbarossa had overrun Lombardy with a Transalpine host
they fancied themselves entitled to demand duchies for themselves and their
relatives, and to entangle the Empire in wars wherein no interest but their
own was involved.

The kingdom of Arles, if it had never added much strength to the Empire,
had been useful as an outwork against France. And thus its loss - Dauphine
passing over, partly in A.D. 1350, finally in 1457, Provence in 1486 - proved
a serious calamity, for it brought the French nearer to Switzerland, and
opened to them a tempting passage into Italy. The Emperors did not for a time
expressly renounce their feudal suzerainty over these lands, but if it was
hard to enforce a feudal claim over a rebellious landgrave in Germany, how
much harder to control a vassal who was also the mightiest king in Europe.

On the north-west frontier, the fall in A.D. 1477 of the great
principality which the dukes of French Burgundy were building up, was seen
with pleasure by the Rhine-landers whom Charles the last duke had incessantly
alarmed. But the only effect of its fall was to leave France and Germany
directly confronting each other, and it was soon seen that the balance of
strength lay on the side of the less numerous but better organized and more
active nation.

Switzerland, too, could no longer be considered a part of the Germanic
realm. The revolt of the Forest Cantons, in A.D. 1313, was against the
oppressions practised in the name of Albert count of Hapsburg, rather than
against the legitimate authority of Albert the Emperor. But although several
subsequent sovereigns, and among them conspicuously Henry the Seventh and
Sigismund, favoured the Swiss liberties, yet while the antipathy between the
Confederates and the territorial nobility gave a peculiar direction to their
policy, the accession of new cantons to their body, and their brilliant
success against Charles the Bold in A.D. 1477, made them proud of a separate
national existence, and not unwilling to cast themselves loose from the
stranded hulk of the Empire. Maximilian tried to conquer them, but after a
furious struggle, in which the valleys of Western Tyrol were repeatedly laid
waste by the peasants of the Engadin, he was forced to give way, and in A.D.
1500 recognized them by treaty as practically independent. Not, however, till
the peace of Westphalia, in A.D. 1648, was the Swiss Confederation in the eye
of public law a sovereign state, and even after that date some of the towns
continued to stamp their coins with the double eagle of the Empire.

If those losses of territory were serious, far more serious was the
plight in which Germany herself lay. The country had now become not so much
an empire as an aggregate of very many small states, governed by sovereigns
who would neither remain at peace with each other nor combine against a
foreign enemy, under the nominal presidency of an Emperor who had little
lawful authority, and could not exert what he had ^1.

[Footnote 1: 'Nam quamvis Imperatorem et regem et dominum vestrum esse
fateamini, precario tamen ille imperare videtur: nulla ei potentia est; tantum
ei paretis quantum vultis, vultis autem minimum.' - Aeneas Sylvius to the
princes of Germany, quoted by Hippolytus a Lapide.]

There was another cause, besides those palpable and obvious ones already
enumerated, to which this state of things must be ascribed. That cause is to
be found in the theory which regarded the Empire as an international power,
supreme among Christian states. From the day when Otto the Great was crowned
at Rome, the characters of German king and Roman Emperor were united in one
person, and it has been shewn how that union tended more and more to become a
fusion. If the two offices, in their nature and origin so dissimilar, had
been held by different persons, the Roman Empire would most probably have soon
disappeared, while the German kingdom grew into a robust national monarchy.
Their connection gave a longer life to the one and a feebler life to the
other, while at the same time it transformed both. So long as Germany was
only one of the many countries that bowed beneath their sceptre it was
possible for the Emperors, though we need not suppose they troubled themselves
with speculations on the matter, to distinguish their imperial authority, as
international and more than half religious, from their royal, which was, or
was meant to be exclusively local and feudal. But when within the narrowed
bounds of Germany these international functions had ceased to have any
meaning, when the rulers of England, Spain, France, Denmark, Hungary, Poland,
Italy, Burgundy, had in succession repudiated their control, and the Lord of
the World found himself obeyed by none but his own people, he would not sink
from being lord of the world into a simple Teutonic king, but continued to
play in the more contracted theatre the part which had belonged to him in the
wider. Thus did Germany instead of Europe become the sphere of his
international jurisdiction; and her electors and princes, originally mere
vassals, no greater than a Count of Champagne in France, or an Earl of Chester
in England, stepped into the place which it had been meant that the several
monarchs of Christendom should fill. If the power of their head had been what
it was in the eleventh century, the additional dignity so assigned to them
might have signified very little. But coming in to confirm and justify the
liberties already won, this theory of their relation to the sovereign had a
great though at the time scarcely perceptible influence in changing the German
Empire, as we may now begin to call it, from a state into a sort of
confederation or body of states, united indeed for some of the purposes of
government, but separate and independent for others more important. Thus, and
that in its ecclesiastical as well as its civil organization, Germany became a
miniature of Christendom ^1. The Pope, though he retained the wider sway
which his rival had lost, was in an especial manner the head of the German
clergy, as the Emperor was of the laity: the three Rhenish prelates sat in the
supreme college beside the four temporal electors: the nobility of
prince-bishops and abbots was as essential a part of the constitution and as
influential in the deliberations of the Diet as were the dukes, counts, and
margraves of the Empire. The world-embracing Christian state was to have been
governed by a hierarchy of spiritual pastors, whose graduated ranks of
authority should exactly correspond with those of the temporal magistracy, who
were to be like them endowed with worldly wealth and power, and to enjoy a
jurisdiction coordinate although distinct. This system, which it was in vain
attempted to establish in Europe during the eleventh and twelfth centuries,
was in its main features that which prevailed in the Germanic Empire from the
fourteenth century onwards. And conformably to the analogy which may be traced
between the position of the archdukes of Austria in Germany and the place
which the four Saxon and the two first Franconian Emperors had held in Europe,
both being recognized as leaders and presidents in all that concerned the
common interest, in the one case of the Christian, in the other of the whole
German people, while neither of them had any power of direct government in the
territories of local kings and lords; so the plan by which those who chose
Maximilian emperor sought to strengthen their national monarchy was in
substance that which the Popes had followed when they conferred the crown of
the world on Charles and Otto. The pontiffs then, like the electors now,
finding that they could not give with the title the power which its functions
demanded, were driven to the expedient of selecting for the office persons
whose private resources enabled them to sustain it with dignity. The first
Frankish and the first Saxon Emperors were chosen because they were already
the mightiest potentates in Europe; Maximilian because he was the strongest of
the German princes. The parallel may be carried on step further. Just as
under Otto and his successors the Roman Empire was Teutonized, so now under
the Hapsburg dynasty, from whose hands the sceptre departed only once
thenceforth, the Teutonic Empire tends more and more to lose itself in an
Austrian monarchy.

[Footnote 1: See Aegidi, Der Furstenrath nach dem Luneviller Frieden; a book
which throws more light than any other with which I am acquainted on the inner
nature of the Empire.]

Of that monarchy and of the power of the house of Hapsburg, Maximilian
was, even more than Rudolf his ancestor, the founder ^1. Uniting in his
person those wide domains through Germany which had been dispersed among the
collateral branches of his house, and claiming by his marriage with Mary of
Burgundy most of the territories of Charles the Bold, he was a prince greater
than any who had sat on the Teutonic throne since the death of Frederick the
Second. But it was as archduke of Austria, count of Tyrol, duke of Styria and
Carinthia, feudal superior of lands in Swabia, Alsace, and Switzerland, that
he was great, not as Roman Emperor. For just as from him the Austrian
monarchy begins, so with him the Holy Empire in its old meaning ends. That
strange system of doctrines, half religious half political, which had
supported it for so many ages, was growing obsolete, and the theory which had
wrought such changes on Germany and Europe, passed ere long so completely from
remembrance that we can now do no more than call up a faint and wavering image
of what it must once have been.

[Footnote 1: The two immediately preceding Emperors, Albert II (1438-1439) and
Frederick III, father of Maximilian (1439-1493), had been Hapsburgs. It is
nevertheless from Maximilian that the ascendancy of that family must be
dated.]

For it is not only in imperial history that the accession of Maximilian
is a landmark. That time - a time of change and movement in every part of
human life, a time when printing had become common, and books were no longer
confined to the clergy, when drilled troops were replacing the feudal militia,
when the use of gunpowder was changing the face of war - was especially marked
by one event, to which the history of the world offers no parallel before or
since, the discovery of America. The cloud which from the beginning of things
had hung thick and dark round the borders of civilization was suddenly lifted:
the feeling of mysterious awe with which men had regarded the firm plain of
earth and her encircling ocean ever since the days of Homer, vanished when
astronomers and geographers taught them that she was an insignificant globe,
which, so far from being the centre of the universe, was itself swept round in
the motion of one of the least of its countless systems. The notions that had
hitherto prevailed regarding the life of man and his relations to nature and
the supernatural, were rudely shaken by the knowledge that was soon gained of
tribes in every stage of culture and living under every variety of condition,
who had developed apart from all the influences of the Eastern hemisphere. In
A.D. I453 the capture of Constantinople and extinction of the Eastern Empire
had dealt a fatal blow to the prestige of tradition and an immemorial name: in
A.D. 1492 there was disclosed a world whither the eagles of the all-conquering
Rome had never winged their flight. No one could now have repeated the
arguments of the De Monarchia.

Another movement, too, widely different, but even more momentous, was
beginning to spread from Italy beyond the Alps. Since the barbarian settled
in the Roman provinces, no change had come to pass in Europe at all comparable
to that which followed the diffusion of the new learning in the latter half of
the fifteenth century. Enchanted by the beauty of the ancient models of art
and poetry, more particularly those of the Greeks, men came to regard with
aversion and contempt all that had been done or produced from the days of
Trajan to those of Pope Nicholas the Fifth. The Latin style of the writers
who lived after Tacitus was debased: the architecture of the Middle Ages was
barbarous: the scholastic philosophy was an odious and unmeaning jargon:
Aristotle himself, Greek though he was, Aristotle who had been for three
centuries more than a prophet or an apostle, was hurled from his throne,
because his name was associated with the dismal quarrels of Scotists and
Thomists. That spirit, whether we call it analytical or sceptical, or
earthly, or simply secular, for it is more or less all of these - the spirit
which was the exact antithesis of mediaeval mysticism, had swept in and
carried men away, with all the force of a pent-up torrent. People were
content to gratify their tastes and their senses, caring little for worship,
and still less for doctrine: their hopes and ideas were no longer such as had
made their forefathers crusaders or ascetics: their imagination was possessed
by associations far different from those which had inspired Dante: they did
not revolt against the church, but they had no enthusiasm for her, and they
had enthusiasm for whatever was fresh and graceful and intelligible. From all
that was old and solemn, or that seemed to savour of feudalism or monkery,
they turned away, too indifferent to be hostile. And so, in the midst of the
Renaissance, so, under the consciousness that former things were passing from
the earth, and a new order opening, so, with the other beliefs and memories of
the Middle Age, the shadowy rights of the Roman Empire melted away in the
fuller modern light. Here and there a jurist muttered that no neglect could
destroy its universal supremacy, or a priest declaimed to listless hearers on
its duty to protect the Holy See; but to Germany it had become an ancient
device for holding together the discordant members of her body, to its
possessors an engine for extending the power of the house of Hapsburg.

Henceforth, therefore, we must look upon the Holy Roman Empire as lost in
the German; and after a few faint attempts to resuscitate old-fashioned
claims, nothing remains to indicate its origin save a sounding title and a
precedence among the states of Europe. It was not that the Renaissance
exerted any direct political influence either against the Empire or for it;
men were too busy upon statues and coins and manuscripts to care what befel
Popes or Emperors. It acted rather by silently withdrawing the whole system
of doctrines upon which the Empire had rested, and thus leaving it, since it
had previously no support but that of opinion, without any support at all.

During Maximilian's eventful reign several efforts were made to construct
a new constitution, but it is to German rather than to imperial history that
they properly belong. Here, indeed, the history of the Holy Empire might
close, did not the title unchanged beckon us on, and were it not that the
events of these later centuries may in their causes be traced back to times
when the name of Roman was not wholly a mockery. It may be enough to remark
that while the preservation of peace and the better administration of justice
were in some measure attained by the Public Peace and Imperial Chamber,
established in A.D. 1495, schemes still more important failed through the bad
constitution of the Diet, and the unconquerable jealousy of the Emperor and
the Estates. Maximilian refused to have his prerogative, indefinite though
weak, restricted by the appointment of an administrative council ^1, and when
the Estates extorted it from him, did his ensure its failure. In the Diet,
which consisted of three colleges, electors, princes, and cities, the lower
nobility and knights of the Empire were unrepresented, and resented every
decree that affected their position, refusing to pay taxes in voting which
they had no voice. The interests of the princes and the cities were often
irreconcilable, while the strength of the crown would not have been sufficient
to make its adhesion to the latter of any affect. The policy of conciliating
the commons, which Sigismund had tried, succeeding Emperors seldom cared to
repeat, content to gain their point by raising factions among the territorial
magnates, and so to stave off the unwelcome demand for reform. After many
earnest attempts to establish a representative system, such as might resist
the tendency to local independence and cure the evils of separate
administration, the hope so often baffled died away. Forces were too nearly
balanced: the sovereign could not extend his personal control, nor could the
reforming party limit him by a strong council of government, for such a
measure would have equally trenched on the independence of the states. So
ended the first great effort for German unity, interesting from its bearing on
the events and aspirations of our own day; interesting, too, as giving the
most convincing proof of the decline of the imperial office. For the projects
of reform did not propose to effect their objects by restoring to Maximilian
the authority his predecessors had once enjoyed, but by setting up a body
which would resemble far more nearly the senate of a federal state than the
administrative council which surrounds a monarch. The existing system
developed itself further: relieved from external pressure, the princes became
more despotic in their own territories: distinct codes were framed, and new
systems of administration introduced: the insurgent peasantry were crushed
down with more confident harshness. Already had leagues of princes and cities
been formed ^2 (that of Swabia was one of the strongest forces in Germany, and
often the monarch's firmest support); now alliances begin to be contracted
with foreign powers, and receive a direction of formidable import from the
rivalry which the pretensions on Naples and Milan of Charles the Eighth and
Lewis the Twelfth of France kindled between their house and the Austrian. It
was no slight gain to have friends in the heart of the enemy's country, such
as French intrigue found in the Elector Palatine and the count of Wurtemberg.

[Footnote 1: Reichsregiment.]

[Footnote 2: Wenzel had encouraged the leagues of the cities, and incurred
thereby the hatred of the nobles.]

Nevertheless this was also the era of the first conscious feeling of
German nationality, as distinct from imperial. Driven in on all hands, with
Italy and the Slavic lands and Burgundy hopelessly lost, Teutschland learnt to
separate itself from Welschland ^1. The Empire became the representative of a
narrower but more practicable national union. It is not a mere coincidence
that at this date there appear several notable changes of style. 'Nationis
Teutonicae' (Teutscher Nation) is added to the simple 'sacrum imperium
Romanum.' The title of 'Imperator electus,' which Maximilian obtains leave
from Pope Julius the Second to assume ^2, when the Venetians prevent him from
reaching his capital, marks the severance of Germany from Rome. No subsequent
Emperor received his crown from the ancient capital (Charles the Fifth was
indeed crowned by the Pope's hands, but the ceremony took place at Bologna,
and was therefore of at least questionable validity); each assumed after his
German coronation ^3 the title of Emperor Elect ^4, and employed this in all
documents issued in his name. But the word 'elect' being omitted when he was
addressed by others, partly from motives of courtesy, partly because the old
rules regarding the Roman coronation were forgotten or remembered only by
antiquaries, he was never called, even when formality was required, anything
but Emperor. The substantial import of another title now first introduced is
the same. Before Otto the First, the Teutonic king had called himself either
'rex' alone, or 'Francorum orientalium rex,' or 'Francorum atque Saxonum rex':
after A.D. 962, all lesser dignities had been merged in the 'Romanorum
Imperator ^5.' To this Maximilian appended 'Germaniae rex,' or, adding
Frederick the Second's bequest ^6, 'Konig in Germanien und Jerusalem.' It has
been thought that from a mixture of the title King of Germany, and that of
Emperor, has been formed the phrase 'German Emperor,' or less correctly,
'Emperor of Germany ^7.' But more probably the terms 'German Emperor' and
'Emperor of Germany' are nothing but convenient corruptions of the technical
description of the Germanic sovereign ^8.

[Footnote 1: The Germans, like our own ancestors, called foreign, i.e.
non-Teutonic nations, Welsh; yet apparently not all such nations, but only
those which they in some way associated with the Roman Empire, the Cymry of
Roman Britain, the Romanized Kelts of Gaul, the Italians, the Roumans or
Wallachs of Transylvania and the Principalities. It does not appear that
either the Magyars or any Sclavonic people were called by any form of the
name.

In the Icelandic writings of the thirteenth century France (Francia
occidentalis) is called 'Valland.']

[Footnote 2: Julius was well pleased to give it, as he had no desire to see
Maximilian in Italy.]

[Footnote 3: The German crown was received at Aachen, the ancient Frankish
capital, where may still be seen, in the gallery of the basilica, the marble
throne on which the Emperors from the days of Charles to those of Ferdinand I
were crowned. It was upon this chair that Otto III had found the body of
Charles seated, when he opened his tomb in A.D. 1001. After Ferdinand I, the
coronation as well as the election took place at Frankfort. An account of the
ceremony may be found in Goethe's Wahrheit und Dichtung. Aachen, though it
remained and indeed is still a German town, lay in too remote a corner of the
country to be a convenient capital, and was moreover in dangerous proximity to
the West Franks, as stubborn old Germans continue to call them. As early as
A.D. 1353 we find bishop Leopold of Bamberg complaining that the French had
arrogated to themselves the honours of the Frankish name, and called
themselves 'reges Franciae,' instead of 'reges Franciae occidentalis.' -
Lupoldus Bebenburgensis, apud Schardium, Sylloge Tractatuum.]

[Footnote 4: Erwahlter Kaiser. See Appendix, Note C.]

[Footnote 5: Romanorum rex (after Henry II) till the coronation at Rome.]

[Footnote 6: But the Emperor was only one of many claimants to this kingdom;
they multiplied as the prospect of regaining it died away.]

[Footnote 7: The latter does not occur, even in English books, till
comparatively recent times. English writers of the seventeenth century always
call him 'The Emperor,' pure and simple, just as they invariably say 'the
French king.' But the phrase 'Empereur d'Almayne' may be found in very early
French writers.]

[Footnote 8: See Moser, Romische Kayser; Goldast's and other collections of
imperial edicts and proclamations.]

That the Empire was thus sinking into a merely German power cannot be
doubted. But it was only natural that those who lived at the time should not
discern the tendency of events. Again and again did the restless and sanguine
Maximilian propose the recovery of Burgundy and Italy, - his last scheme was
to adjust the relations of Papacy and Empire by becoming Pope himself: nor
were successive Diets less zealous to check private war, still the scandal of
Germany, to set right the gear of the imperial chamber, to make the imperial
officials permanent, and their administration uniform throughout the country.
But while they talked the heavens darkened, and the flood came and destroyed
them all.