123. TURMOIL IN THE EMPIRE
Now having long tarried at home in describing the tumults and troubles within our own land, we will let out our story more at large, to consider the afflictions and perturbations of other parties and places also of Christ's church, as well here in Europe under the pope, as in the east parts under the Turk, first deducing our story from the time of Sigismund, where before we left. Which Sigismund, as it is above recorded, was a great doer in the council of Constance against John Huss and Jerome of Prague. This emperor had ever evil luck, fighting against the Turks. Twice he warred against them, and in both the battles was discomfited and put to flight; once about the city of Mysia, fighting against Bajazet the great Turk, A. D. 1395; the second time fighting against Celebinus the son of Bajazet, about the town called Columbacium. But especially after the council of Constance, wherein were condemned and burned these two godly martyrs, more unprosperous success did then follow him, fighting against the Bohemians, his own subjects, A. D. 1420, by whom he was repulsed in so many battles, to his great dishonour, during all the life of Zisca, and of Procopius, as is before more at large expressed; who was so beaten both of the Turks, and at home of his own people, that he never did encounter with the Turks after. Then followed the council of Basil, after the beginning whereof, within six years, this Sigismund, which was emperor, king of Hungary, and king of Bohemia, died in Moravia, A. D. 1437.
Albert the emperor.
This Sigismund left behind him one only daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Albert, duke of Austria, by reason whereof he was advanced to the empire, and so was both duke of Austria, emperor, king of Hungary, and king also of Bohemia. But this Albert, as is before declared, being an enemy and a disquieter to the Bohemians, and especially to the good men of Tabor, as he was preparing and setting forth against the Turks, in the mean time died, in the second year of his empire, A. D. 1439, leaving his wife great with child; who, lying then in Hungary, and thinking herself to be great with a daughter, called to her the princes and the chieftains of the realms, declaring to them that she was but a woman, and insufficient to the governance of such a state; and moreover, how she thought herself to be with child of a daughter, and therefore required them to provide among them such a prince and governor, (reserving the right of the kingdom to herself,) as were fit and able, under her, to have the regiment of the land committed. The Turk, in the mean while, being elevated and encouraged with his prosperous victories against Sigismund aforesaid, began then more fiercely to invade Hungary and those parts of Christendom. Wherefore the Hungarians, making the more haste, consulted among themselves to make Duke Uladislaus, brother to Casimir, king of Poland, their king.
But while this was in working between the Hungarians and Uladislaus the duke, in the mean space Elizabeth brought forth a son, called Ladislaus, who, being the lawful heir of the kingdom, the queen called back again her former word, minding to reserve the kingdom for her son, being the true heir thereof, and therefore refuseth marriage with the said Uladislaus, which she had before pretended. But Uladislaus, joining with a great part of the Hungarians, persisting still in the condition before granted, would not give over, by reason whereof, great contention and division kindling among the people of Hungary, Amurath, the great Turk, taking his advantage of their discord, and partly surprised with pride of his former success against Sigismund aforesaid, with his whole main and force invaded the realm of Hungary; where Huniades, surnamed Vaivoda, prince of Transylvania, joining with the new king Uladislaus, did both together set against the Turk, A. D. 1444, and there Uladislaus, the new king of Hungary, the fourth year of his kingdom, was slain. Elizabeth, with her son, was fled in the mean while to Frederic the emperor. Of Huniades Vaivoda, the noble captain, and of his acts, and also of Ladislaus, Christ willing, more shall be said hereafter, in his time and place.
Frederic the Third, emperor.
After the decease of Albert, succeeded in the empire Frederic the Third, duke of Austria, A. D.1440. By whom it was procured, as we have before signified, that Pope Felix, elected by the council of Basil, did resign his popedom to Pope Nicholas the Fifth, upon this condition, that the said Pope Nicholas should ratify the acts decreed in the said council of Basil. In the days of this emperor much war and dissension raged almost through all Christian realms, in Austria, Hungary, Poland, in France, in Burgundy, and also here in England, between King Henry the Sixth and King Edward the Fourth, as ye have already heard; whereby it had been easy for the Turk, with little mastery, to have overrun all the Christian realms in Europe, had not the providence of our merciful Lord otherwise provided to keep Amurath, the Turk, occupied in other civil wars at home in the mean while. Unto this Frederic came Elizabeth, as is aforesaid, with Ladislaus, her son, by whom he was nourished and entertained a certain space, till at length, after the death of Uladislaus aforesaid, king of Hungary, which was slain in battle by the Turks, the men of Austria, through the instigation of Ulricus Eizingerus, and of Ulricus, earl of Cilicia, rising up in armour, required of Frederic the emperor, either to give them their young king, or else to stand to his own defence.
When Frederic heard this, neither would he render to them a sudden answer, neither would they abide any longer delay, and so the matter, growing to war, the new city was besieged, where many were slain, and much harm done. At length the emperor's part, being the weaker, the emperor, through the intervention of certain nobles of Germany, restored Ladislaus unto their hands, who, being yet under age, committed his three kingdoms to three governors. Whereof John Huniades, the worthy captain above mentioned, had the ruling of Hungary; George Pogiebracius had Bohemia; and Ulricus the earl of Cilicia had Austria. Which Ulricus, having the chief custody of the king, bare the greatest authority above the rest; a man as full of ambition and tyranny, as he was hated almost of all the Austrians, and shortly after, by the means of Eizingerus, was also excluded from the king and the court, but afterward restored again, and Eizingerus thrust out. Such is the unstable condition of them which be next in place about princes. But this contention between them I overpass.
Not long after, Ladislaus the young king went to Bohemia, there to be crowned, where George Pogiebracius, as is said, had the governance. But Ladislaus, during all the time of his being there, though being much requested, yet would neither enter into the churches, nor hear the service of them, which did draw after the doctrine of Huss. Insomuch that when a certain priest, in the high tower of Prague, was appointed and addressed, after the manner of priests, to say service before the king, being known to hold with John Huss and Rochezana, the king disdaining at him commanded him to give place and depart, or else he would send him down headlong from the rock of the tower; and so the good minister, repulsed by the king, departed. Also another time the said Ladislaus, seeing the sacrament carried by a minister of that side, whom they called then Hussites, would do thereunto no reverence.
At length the long abode of the king, although it was not very long, yet seemed to the godly disposed to be longer than they wished; and that was not to the king unknown, which made him to make the more haste away; but before he departed, he thought first to visit the noble city Uratislavia in Silesia. In the which city, the aforesaid King Ladislaus being there in the high church at service, many great princes were about him. Among whom was also George Pogiebracius, who then stood nearest to the king; unto whom one Chilianus, playing the parasite about the king, as the fashion is of such as feign themselves fools, to make other men as very fools as they, spake in this wise as followeth; "With what countenance you do behold this our service, I see right well, but your heart I do not see. Say then, doth not the order of this our religion seem unto you decent and comely? Do you not see how many and how great princes, yea, the king himself, do follow one order and uniformity? And why do you then follow rather your preacher Rochezana than these? Do you think a few Bohemians to be more wise than all the church of Christ besides? Why then do you not forsake that rude and rustical people, and join to these nobles, as you are a nobleman yourself? "
Unto whom thus Pogiebracius sagely again doth answer. "If you speak these words of yourself," saith he, "you are not the man whom you feign yourself to be; and so to you I answer, as not to a fool. But if you speak this by the suggestion of others, then must I satisfy them. Hear therefore: As touching the ceremonies of the church, every man hath a conscience of his own to follow. As for us, we use such ceremonies as we trust please God; neither is it in our arbitrement to believe what we will ourselves. The mind of man, being persuaded with great reasons, is captivated, will he, nill he; and as nature is instructed and taught, so is she drawn, in some one way, and in some another. As for myself, I am fully persuaded in the religion of my preachers. If I should follow thy religion, I might perchance deceive men, going contrary to mine own conscience; but I cannot deceive God, who seeth the hearts of all. Neither shall it become me to frame myself to thy disposition. That which is meet for a jester, is not likewise convenient for a nobleman. And these words either take to thyself, as spoken to thee, if thou be a wise man; or else I refer them to those which set thee on work."
After the king was returned from the Bohemians again to Austria, the Hungarians likewise made their petitions to the king, that he would also come unto them. The governor of Hungary, as ye before have heard, was Johannes Huniades, whose victorious acts against the Turks are famous. Against this Huniades, wicked Ulricus, carl of Cilicia, did all he could with the king to bring him to destruction, and therefore caused the king to send for him up to Vienna, and there privily to work his death. But Huniades, having thereof intelligence, offereth himself within Hungary to serve his prince, to all affairs: out of the land where he was, it was neither best, said he, for the king nor safest for himself, to come. The earl being so disappointed came down with certain nobles of the court, to the borders of Hungary, thinking either to apprehend him and bring him to Vienna, or there to despatch him. Huniades, without in the fields, said he would commune with him, within the town he would not be brought. After that another train also was laid for him, that under pretence of the king's safe-conduct he should meet the king in the broad fields of Vienna. But Huniades, suspecting deceit, came indeed to the place appointed, where he neither seeing the king to come, nor the earl to have any safe-conduct for him, was moved (and not without cause) against the earl, declaring how it was in his power there to slay him, which went about to seek his blood, but for the reverence of the king he would spare him and let him go.
Not long after this, the Turk with a great power of fighting men, to the number of a hundred and fifteen thousand, arrived in Hungary, where he laid siege to the city Alba. But through the merciful hand of God, John Huniades, and Capistranus, a certain Minorite, with a small garrison of Christian soldiers, gave him the repulse, and put him to flight with all his mighty host; whereof more (Christ willing) hereafter. Huniades shortly after this victory deceased. Of whose death when the king and the earl did understand, they came the more boldly into Hungary, where he being received by Ladislaus, Huniades' son, into the town of Alba, there viewed the places where the Turks before had pitched their tents. When this Ladislaus heard that the king was coming first toward the town, obediently he opened to him the gates. Four thousand only of armed soldiers he debarred from entering the city.
In the mean time, while the king was there resident in the city, the earl with other nobles did sit in council, requiring also Ladislaus to resort unto them; who, first doubting with himself what he might do, at length putteth on a privy coat of mail, and cometh to them. Whether the earl first began with him, or he with the earl, it is not known. The opinion of some is, that Ulricus first called him traitor, for shutting the gates against the king's soldiers. Howsoever the occasion began, this is undoubted, that Ulricus taking his sword from his page let fly at his head. To break the blow, some putting up their hands had their fingers cut off. The Hungarians hearing a noise and tumult within the chamber brake it open upon them, and there incontinent slew Ulricus the earl, wounding and cutting him almost all to pieces. The king hearing thereof, although he was not a little discontented thereat in his mind, yet seeing there was then no other remedy, dissembled his grief for a time.
From thence the king took his journey again to Buda, accompanied with the aforesaid Ladislaus; who, passing by the town where the wife of Huniades was mourning for the death of her husband, seemed with many fair words to comfort her; and after he had there sufficiently repasted himself, with such pretence of dissembled love, and feigned favour, that they were without all suspicion and fear, from thence he set forward in his journey, taking with him the two sons of Huniades, Ladislaus and Matthias, who were right ready to wait upon him. The king being come to Buda, (whether of his own head, or by sinister counsel set on,) when he had them at a vantage, caused both the sons of Huniades, to wit, Ladislaus and Matthias, to be apprehended. And first was brought forth Ladislaus the elder son to the place of execution, there to be beheaded, where meekly he suffered, being charged with no other crime but this, published by the voice of the crier,saying, "Thus are they to be chastened, which are rebels against their lord." Peucerus writing of his death, addeth this moreover, that after the hangman had three blows at his neck, yet, notwithstanding, the said Ladislaus, having his hands bound behind him, after the third stroke rose upright on his feet, and looking up to heaven called upon the Lord, and protested his innocency in that behalf; and so laying down his neck again, at the fourth blow was despatched. Matthias, the other brother, was led captive with the king into Austria. The rest of the captives brake the prison and escaped.
It was not long after this cruelty was wrought upon Ladislaus, the king being about the age of twenty and two years, that talk was made of the king's marriage with Magdalene, daughter to the French king. The place of the marriage was appointed at Prague, where great preparation was for the matter. At the first entrance of the king into the city of Prague, Rochezana with a company of ministers, such as were favourers of John Huss, and of sincere religion, came with all solemnity to receive the king, making there his oration to gratulate the king's most joyful and prosperous access into the same his own realm and country of Bohemia. Unto which Rochezana, after he had ended his oration, scarce would the king open his mouth to give thanks to him, or any cheerful countenance unto his company, but fiercely seemed to frown upon them. In the next pageant after these came forth the priests of the high minister, after the most popish manner, meeting him with procession, and with the sacrament of the altar: for as panacea among physicians serveth for all diseases, so the sacrament of the pope's altar serveth for all pomps and pageants. First it must lie upon the altar, then it must be holden up with hands, then it must hang in the pix, it must serve for the quick, it must also help the dead, it must moreover visit the sick, it must walk about the churchyard, it must go about the streets, it must be carried about the fields to make the grass to grow, it must be had to the battle, it must ride on horseback before the pope, and finally, it must welcome kings into cities. Wherein these catholic fathers do seem somewhat to forget themselves. For if the pope, being inferior to the sacrament of the altar, at the coming of kings do use to sit still while the kings come and kiss his feet, what reason is it that the sacrament of the altar, which is (I trow) above the pope, should meet kings by the way, and welcome them to the town? But this by the way of parenthesis: let us now continue the text.
When Ladislaus this catholic king, who had showed himself before so stout and stern against Rochezana and his company, had seen these catholic priests with their procession, and especially with their blessed sacrament, to come, with all reverence and much devotion he lighted down from his horse, he embraced the cross and kissed it, and with cheerful countenance saluted the priests in order. All this while his young wife was not yet come out of France, but legates were sent, after most sumptuous wise, to conduct her. Other legates also were sent the same time to the Emperor Frederic, for conclusion of peace. The third legacy was directed likewise to Pope Calixtus about religion, how to reduce the Bohemians to the Church of Rome. The author of this story, (which was Pope Pius himself,) declareth further the opinion of some to be, that King Ladislaus the same time had intended to make a final end and destruction of all that sect in Bohemia, which held with the doctrine of John Huss and Jerome, by the assembly and concourse of the catholic princes and popish prelates which were appointed there to meet together at that marriage in Prague. For there should be first the Emperor Frederic, Elizabeth, the king's mother, and his sisters Elizabeth and Anna, the princes of Saxony, Bavaria, Silesia, Franconia, the Palatine, and other princes of the Rhine; many also of the lords of France, besides the pope's cardinals, legates, prelates, and other authorities of the pope's church; who, if they had all together convented in Bohemia, no doubt but some great mischief had been wrought there against the Hussites; against whom this Ladislaus, following the steps of Sigismund his grandfather, and Albert his father, was ever an utter enemy. But when man hath purposed, yet God disposeth as pleaseth him.
And, therefore,truly it is written of Æneas Sylvius in the same place, saying, "In regiment of cities, in alteration of kingdoms, in ruling and governing the world, it is less than nothing that man can do; it is the high God that ruleth high things." Whereunto then I may well add this, moreover, and say; that if the governance of worldly kingdoms standeth not in man's power, but in the disposition of God, much less is it then that man's power can do in the regiment and governing of religion. Example whereof in this purposed device of princes doth evidently appear. For as this great preparation and solemnity of marriage was in doing, and the princes ready to set it forth, with a little turn of God's holy hand, all these great purposes were suddenly turned and dashed. For in the midst of this business, about the one and twentieth day of November, A. D. 1461, this great adversary of Christ's people, King Ladislaus, king of Bohemia, of Hungary, and prince of Austria, sickened, and within six and thirty hours died, some say of a pestilent sore in his groin, some say of poison. But howsoever it was, it came not without the just judgment of God, revenging the innocent blood of Ladislaus, Huniades' son, wrongfully put to death before. So by the opportune death of this king, the poor churches of Bohemia were graciously delivered. And this end made Ladislaus, one of the mightiest princes at that time in all Europe; in whom three mighty kingdoms were conjoined and combined together, Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia; which countries do lie south-east from England, in the farthest parts of all Germany, toward Constantinople, and the dominions of the Turks, and contain these principal towns in them.
The large dominions of Ladislaus
called once Pannonia Superior.
Vienna, which was besieged of the Turk, A. D. 1533.
Neustadt, nova Civitas.
To Austria be adjoining also certain provinces and earldoms, as
which was once called Pannonia Inferior.
Buda, or Ofen.
Strigonium. Kalachia. Varadein.
This Hungary was first called Pannonia, or P?nia. After the coming of the Huns, it was called Hungary. Of them came Attila, which destroyed Italy, about the year of the Lord 440. Through Hungary runneth the Danube, having on the west side Austria; and Bohemia on the east; Servia on the south side. The most of this Hungary is now under the Turk; which Turk first came into Europe, A. D. 1211.
Kolm, or K?lu.
Bern, or Beraun.
Bruck, or Most.
Gretz, or Hradetz.
Maut, or Myto.
Dubitz, or Biela.
Loket, or Teplitz.
Hantzburg, or Zbraslau.
Labes, or Ultawa.
After the death of Ladislaus, the kingdom of Bohemia fell to George Pogiebracius, above mentioned, whom Pope Innocent the Eighth did excommunicate and depose for his religion, as is before declared.
Furthermore, the kingdom of Hungary was given to Matthias son of Huniades, who was in captivity, as is said, with King Ladislaus, and should have been put to death after his brother, had not the king before been prevented with death, as is above recorded. Moreover, here is to be noted that the said King Ladislaus, thus dying without wife and issue, left behind him two sisters alive, to wit, Elizabeth, which was married to Casimirus, king of Poland; and Anna, married to William, duke of Saxony. Elizabeth, by her husband Casimirus, king of Poland, had Uladislaus, who at length was king of both Bohemia and Hungary. This Casimirus first was married to Beatrix, wife before to Matthias. Then being divorced from her by the dispensation of Pope Alexander, he married a new wife a countess of France, by whom he had two children, Louis, and Anna; Louis, which was heir of both kingdoms, of Bohemia and Hungary, was slain fighting against the Turks; Anna was married to Ferdinandus, by whom he was archduke of Austria, king of Bohemia, &c.
Ye heard before, how, after the decease of Ladislaus, the Hungarians by their election preferred Matthias, surnamed Corvinus, which was son of Huniades, to the kingdom of Hungary. For which cause dissension fell between Frederic the emperor and him, for that the said Frederic was both nominated himself by divers unto that kingdom, and also because he had the crown of Hungary then remaining in his hands, which Elizabeth, mother to King Ladislaus, had brought to the emperor, as was before declared. But this war between them was ceased by the intercession of the princes of Germany, so that Matthias ransomed that crown of Frederic for eight thousand florins.
Not long after, Pope Innocent, being displeased with George Pogiebracius, (or Bojebracius,) king of Bohemia, for favouring of John Huss and his religion, that is to say, for playing the part of a godly prince, did excommunicate and depose him, conferring his kingdom to Matthias. But forasmuch as Frederic the emperor would not thereto consent, and especially after the death of the aforesaid George, when the emperor and the Bohemians, leaving out Matthias, did nominate Uladislaus son of Casimirus, king of Poland, and of Elizabeth, to be king of Bohemia, therefore great war and trouble kindled between him and Frederic the emperor. Wherein the emperor had utterly gone to ruin, had not Albert, duke of Saxony, rescued the emperor, and repressed the vehemency of Matthias.
The noble acts of John Huniades, and of this Matthias his son, were not only great stays to Hungary, but almost to all Christendom, in repelling back the Turk. For beside the other victories of John Huniades the father, aforementioned, this Matthias also his son, succeeding no less in valiantness than in the name of his father, did so recover Sirmium, and the confines of Illyrica, from the hands of the Turks, and so vanquished their power, that both Mahomet, and also Bajazet his son, were enforced to seek for truce.
Over and besides, the same Matthias conducting his army into Bosnia, which lieth south from Hungary, recovered again Jaitza, the principal town of that kingdom, from the Turk's possession. Who, if other Christian princes had joined their helps withal, would have proceeded farther into Thracia. But behold here the malicious subtlety of Satan, working by the pope. For while Matthias was thus occupied in this expedition against the Turks, wherein he should have been set forward and aided by Christian princes and bishops, the bishop of Rome wickedly and sinfully ministereth matter of civil discord between him and Pogiebracius aforesaid, in removing him from the right of his kingdom, and transferring the same to Matthias. Whereupon not only the course of victory against the Turks was stopped, but also great war and bloodshed followed in Christian realms, as well between this Matthias and Pogiebracius, with his two sons Victorinus and Henricus, as also between Casimirus, Uladislaus, and Matthias, warring about Uratislavia, till at length the matter was taken up by the princes of Germany.
Albeit, for all the execrable excommunication of the pope against Pogiebracius, a great part of Bohemia would not be removed from the obedience of their king, whom the pope had cursed and deposed; yet Matthias took from him Moravia, and a great portion of Silesia, and adjoined it to his kingdom of Hungary, A. D. 1474.
Here this by the way is to be noted, that the religion in Bohemia, planted by John Huss, could not be extinguished or suppressed with all the power of four mighty princes, Wenceslaus, Sigismund, Albert, and Ladislaus, notwithstanding they, with the popes, did therein what they possibly could; but still the Lord maintained the same, as ye see by this Pogiebracius, king of Bohemia, whom the pope could not utterly remove out of the kingdom of Bohemia.
This forementioned Matthias, beside his other memorable acts of chivalry, is no less also commended for his singular knowledge and love of learning and of learned men, whom he with great stipends procured into Pannonia; where, by the means of good letters, and furniture of learned men, he reduced, in short space, the barbarous rudeness of that country into a flourishing commonwealth. Moreover, such a library he did there erect, and replenish with all kind of authors, sciences and histories, which he caused to be translated out of Greek into Latin, as the like is not thought to be found, next to Italy, in all Europe beside. Out of which library we have received divers fragments of writers, as of Polybius, and Diodorus Siculus, which were not extant before.
The constant fortitude also of Georgius Pogiebracius, king of Bohemia, is not unworthy of commendation; of whom also Pope Pius himself, in Descriptione Europæ, doth honestly report, as a pope may speak of a protestant, in these words writing, Magnus vir alioqui, et rebus bellicis clarus, &c. Who, although Pope Innocent did execrate with his children, yet he left not off the profession of the verity and knowledge which he had received. Moreover, the Lord so prospered his sons, Victorinus and Henricus, that they subdued their enemies and kept their estate: insomuch, that when Frederic the emperor at Vienna was in custody enclosed by the citizens, Victorinus did restore and deliver him out of their hands. Wherefore the emperor after-ward advanced them to be dukes. Also God gave them sometimes prosperous victory against Matthias, as at the city of Glogovia, &c.
After the decease of Georgius Pogiebracius, king of Bohemia, Frederic the emperor assigned that kingdom, not to Matthias, upon whom the pope had bestowed it before, but upon Uladislaus, son of Casimirus, king of Poland, and of Elizabeth, daughter of the Emperor Albert, and sister to Ladislaus. For the which Matthias, being discontented, and for that the emperor had denied him his daughter Kunegunda, went about to exclude Uladislaus out of Bohemia, and also proclaimed war against Frederic. But before he accomplished his purposed preparation, death prevented him, who without issue departed, A. D. 1490.
After the death of Matthias, departing without issue, Uladislaus, son of Casimirus, king of Poland, and of Elizabeth, daughter to Albert, emperor, and sister to King Ladislaus, married his wife Beatrix, whom Matthias left a widow, and with her was elected king of Hungary, with this condition made between him and Frederic the emperor, that if he died without lawful issue, then the kingdoms of Hungary and of Bohemia should return to Maximilian, son to Frederic. But Uladislaus, not long after, did repudiate his wife Beatrix, and, depriving her of her kingdom, caused the said Beatrix to swear and to consent to his marrying of another woman, which was the daughter of the French king, named Anne, procuring from Pope Alexander a dispensation for the same, as is before signified. By this Anne, Uladislaus had Louis and Anne; which Anne afterward was married to Ferdinand.
Louis, succeeding after his father, had both the said kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary, A. D. 1492, and married Mary, sister to Charles the Fifth, emperor. Anne, as is said, was coupled to Ferdinand, &c.
Of Charles, duke of Burgundy, somewhat was before touched, who had married King Edward's sister; and what troubles by him were stirred up in France, partly was before notified. This Charles, after he had besieged the city Nuys, or Novasium, the space of a whole year, went about to alienate the territory of Cologne, from the empire to his own dominion; wherefore war began to be moved between him and Frederic the emperor. At length, through communication had, peace was concluded, and a marriage appointed between Mary, the only daughter of Charles, and Maximilian, the emperor's son, A. D. 1475. Then from Novasium Charles leadeth his army toward Helvetia, against Renatus, or Reinhardus, duke of Lotharing; then against the Helvetians, where he, being thrice overcome, first at Granson, then at Moratum, or Murta, in the higher part of Helvetia, at last, at the town of Nantes, was overthrown and slain, A. D. 1477. The procurer of which wars was chiefly Louis the Eleventh, the French king, to the intent he might compass the dominion of Burgundy under his subjection; which afterward by open wrong and privy fraud he brought about, defrauding Mary, the daughter of Charles, of her rightful inheritance; for the which cause the Burgundians were the more willing to join her marriage with Maximilian, son of Frederic the emperor; by reason whereof the title of Burgundy was first joined to the house of Austria.
And thus have you the miserable vexations and contentions among our Christian princes here in Europe described, under the reign of this Frederic the Third, emperor, so that almost no angle or portion of all Christendom (whether we consider the state of the church, or civil government) was free from discord, tumults, and dissensions. This cankered worm of ambition so mightily creepeth, and every where prevaileth in these latter ends of the world, that it suffereth neither rest in commonwealths, nor peace in the church, nor any sparkle of charity almost to remain in the life of men. And what marvel then, if the Lord, seeing us so far to degenerate, not only from his precepts and counsels, but almost from the sense and bond of nature, that brother with brother, uncle with nephew, blood with blood, cannot agree, in striving, killing, and fighting for worldly dominions, do send therefore these cruel Turks upon us, so to scourge and devour us? Of whose bloody tyranny and daily spilling of Christian blood, hereafter (by the grace of Christ) we will discourse more at large, when we come to the peculiar consideration of the Turkish stories. In the mean time this shall be for us to note and observe, not so much the scourge how grievous it is, but rather to behold the causes which bring the whip upon us, which is our own miserable ambition and wretched wars among ourselves.
And yet if this Christian peace and love, left and commended so heartily unto us by the mouth of the Son of God, being now banished out of Christian realms and civil governance, might at least find some refuge in the church, or take sanctuary among men professing nothing but religion, less cause we had to mourn. Now so it is, that as we see little peace and amity among civil potentates; so less we find in the spiritual sort of them, which chiefly take upon them the administration of Christ's church. So that it may well be doubted whether the scourge of the Turk or the civil sword of princes have slain more in the fields, or the pope's keys have burnt more in towns and cities. And albeit such as be professed to the church do not fight with sword and target for dominions and revenues, as warlike princes do; yet this ambition, pride, and avarice, appeareth in them nothing inferior unto other worldly potentates; especially if we behold and advise the doings and insatiable desires of the court of Rome. Great argument and proof hereof neither is hard to be found, nor far to be sought. What realm almost through all Christendom hath not only seen with their eyes, but have felt in their purses, the ambition intolerable and avarice insatiable of that devouring church, and also have complained upon the grievance thereof, but never could be redressed? What exactions and extortions have been here in England out of bishoprics, monasteries, benefices, deaneries, archdeaconries, and all other offices of the church, to fill the pope's coffers! and when they had all done, yet every year brought almost some new invention from Rome to fetch in our English money; and if all the floods in England (yea, in all Europe) did run into the see of Rome, yet were that ocean never able to be satisfied.
In France likewise what floods of money were swallowed up into this see of Rome! It was openly complained of in the council of Basil, as is testified by Henry Token, canon and ambassador of the archbishop of Maidenburg, written in his book entitled Rapulari, where he writeth, that in the council of Basil, A. D. 1436, the archbishop of Lyons did declare, that in the time of Pope Martin there came out of France to the court of Rome, nine millions of gold, which was gathered of the bishops and prelates, besides those which could not be counted of the poor clergy, which daily without number ran unto the court of Rome, carrying with them all their whole substance. The archbishop of Tours said also at Basil, in the year of our Lord 1439, that three millions of gold came unto Rome in his time, within the space of fourteen years, from the prelates and prelacies, whereof no account could be made, beside the poor clergy which daily run to that court. Let the man which feareth God judge what a devouring gulf this is. A million containeth ten hundred thousand.
And what made Pope Pius the Second to labour so earnestly to Louis the Eleventh, the French king, (who, as is aforesaid, was a great enemy to the house of Burgundy,) that he would (according to his former promise) abolish and utterly extinguish the constitution established before at the council of Bitures, by King Charles the Seventh, his predecessor, called Pragmatica Sanctio; but only the ambition of that see, which had no measure, and their avarice, which had no end? The story is this: King Charles the Seventh, the French king, willing to obey and follow the council of Basil, did summon a parliament at Bourges; where, by the full consent of all the states in France, both spiritual and temporal, a certain constitution was decreed and published, called Pragmatica Sanctio; wherein was comprehended briefly the pith and effect of all the canons and decrees concluded in the council of Basil. The which constitution the said King Charles willed and commanded through all his realm inviolably to be observed and ratified, for the honour and increase of Christian religion for ever. This was A. D. 1438.
It followed, that after the decease of the aforesaid Charles the Seventh, succeeded King Louis the Eleventh, who had promised before (being Dauphin) to Pope Pius, that if he ever came to the crown, the aforesaid Sanctio Pragmatica should be abolished; whereupon Pius, hearing him to be crowned, did send unto him John Balveus, a cardinal, with his great letters patent, willing him to be mindful of his promise made. The king, either willing, or else pretending a will to perform and accomplish that he had promised, directed the pope's letters patent, with the said cardinal, to the council of Paris, requiring them to consult upon the cause.
Thus the matter being brought and proposed in the parliament house, the king's attorney, named Johannes Romanus, a man well spoken, singularly witted, and well reasoned, stepping forth, with great eloquence and no less boldness, proved the said sanction to be profitable, holy, and necessary for the wealth of the realm, and in no case to be abolished. Unto whose sentence the university of Paris, adjoining their consent, did appeal from the attempts of the pope to the next general council. The cardinal, understanding this, took no little indignation thereat, fretting and fuming, and threatening many terrible things against them; but, all his minatory words notwithstanding, he returned again to the king, his purpose not obtained, A. D. 1438.
Thus the pope's purpose in France was disappointed, which also in Germany had come to the like effect, if Frederic the emperor had there done his part likewise toward the Germans, who at the same time, bewailing their miserable estate, went about with humble suit to persuade the emperor that he should no longer be under the subjection of the popes of Rome, except they had first obtained certain things of them as touching the charter of appeals; declaring their estate to be far worse (although undeserved) than the Frenchmen or Italians, whose servants, and especially of the Italians, they are worthily to be called, except that their estate were altered. The nobles and commonalty of Germany did instantly entreat, with most weighty reasons and examples, both for the utility and profit of the empire, to have the emperor's aid and help therein, for that which he was bound unto them by an oath; alleging also the great dishonour and ignominy in that they alone had not the use of their own laws, declaring how the French nation had not made their suit unto their king in vain against the exactions of popes, by whom they were defended; which also provided decrees and ordinances for the liberty of his people, and caused the same to be observed; the which thing the emperor ought to foresee within his empire, and to provide for his people and states of his empire, as well as other kings do for what shall come to pass thereby, if, that foreign nations, having recourse unto their kings, being relieved and defended by them from the said exactions, and the Germans and states of the empire, flying unto their emperor, be by him forsaken, or rather betrayed, and deprived of their own laws and decrees? The emperor, being moved and partly overcome by their persuasions, promised that he would provide no less for them, than the king of France had done for the Frenchmen, and to make decrees in that behalf. But the grave authority of Æneas Sylvius, as Platina writeth in the history of Pius the Second, brake off the matter; who, by his subtle and pestiferous persuasions, did so bewitch the emperor, that he, contemning the equal, just, and necessary requests of his subjects, chose the said Æneas to be his ambassador unto Calixtus, then newly chosen pope, to swear unto him in his name, and to promise the absolute obedience of all Germany, as the only country (as they call it) of obedience, neglecting the ordinances and decrees of their country, as before he had done unto Eugenius the Fourth, being ambassador for the said Frederic, promising that he and all the Germans would be obedient unto him from henceforth in all matters, as well spiritual as temporal.
Thus twice Frederic of Austria contemned and derided the Germans, and, frustrating them of their native decrees and ordinances, brought them under subjection and bondage of the pope, which partly was the cause that seven years before his death he caused his son Maximilian, not only to be chosen, but also crowned king of Romans, and did associate him to the ministration of the empire, lest, after his death, (as it came to pass,) the empire should be transported into another family, suspecting the Germans, whom he had twice, contrary to his laws, made subject and in bondage unto the pope's exactions; first before he was crowned in the time of Eugenius the Fourth, and again, the second time, after his coronation, and death of Pope Nicholas the Fifth, denying their requests. Whereupon Germany being in this miserable poverty and grievous subjection under the popes tyranny and polling, with tears and sighs lamenting their estate, continued so almost unto Luther's time; as the histories hereafter following do testify.
And here, ceasing with the story of Frederic, we will now proceed to the reign of Maximilian his son, omitting divers things else incident in the time of this emperor; as first, touching the unbrotherly contention and conflicts between this Frederic and Albert his brother, and Sigismund his uncle, for the dukedom of Austria, after the death of Matthias before mentioned. Omitting also to speak of the long and cruel war between the Prussians and Poles, in the time of Uladislaus: omitting also the strife and variance for the dukedom of Milan, between Frederic the emperor, Alfonsus, Charles, duke of Orleans, and Francis Sfortia: and how the said princedom being after given to Sfortia, great wars were kindled and long continued between Sfortia and the Milanese, then between the Milanese and Venetians, and after between the Frenchmen and the Milanese. All which tumults and commotions, as not pertinent greatly to the purpose of this story, I refer to other writers, where they are to be found more amply discoursed.