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A Political and Social History of Modern Europe By Carlton J. H. Hayes Characters: 55332

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


[Sidenote: "National Monarchies" in 1500]

Before we can safely proceed with the story of European development during the past four hundred years, it is necessary to know what were the chief countries that existed at the beginning of our period and what were the distinctive political institutions of each.

A glance at the map of Europe in 1500 will show numerous unfamiliar divisions and names, especially in the central and eastern portions. Only in the extreme west, along the Atlantic seaboard, will the eye detect geographical boundaries which resemble those of the present day. There, England, France, Spain, and Portugal have already taken form. In each one of these countries is a real nation, with a single monarch, and with a distinctive literary language. These four states are the national states of the sixteenth century. They attract our immediate attention.


[Sidenote: The English Monarchy]

In the year 1500 the English monarchy embraced little more than what on the map is now called "England." It is true that to the west the principality of Wales had been incorporated two hundred years earlier, but the clannish mountaineers and hardy lowlanders of the northern part of the island of Great Britain still preserved the independence of the kingdom of Scotland, while Irish princes and chieftains rendered English occupation of their island extremely precarious beyond the so- called Pale of Dublin which an English king had conquered in the twelfth century. Across the English Channel, on the Continent, the English monarchy retained after 1453, the date of the conclusion of the Hundred Years' War, only the town of Calais out of the many rich French provinces which ever since the time of William the Conqueror (1066- 1087) had been a bone of contention between French and English rulers.

While the English monarchy was assuming its geographical form, peculiar national institutions were taking root in the country, and the English language, as a combination of earlier Anglo-Saxon and Norman-French, was being evolved. The Hundred Years' War with France, or rather its outcome, served to exalt the sense of English nationality and English patriotism, and to enable the king to devote his whole attention to the consolidation of his power in the British islands. For several years after the conclusion of peace on the Continent, England was harassed by bloody and confused struggles, known as the Wars of the Roses, between rival claimants to the throne, but at length, in 1485, Henry VII, the first of the Tudor dynasty, secured the crown and ushered in a new era of English history.

[Sidenote: Increase of Royal Power in England under Henry VII]

Henry VII (1485-1509) sought to create what has been termed a "strong monarchy." Traditionally the power of the king had been restricted by a Parliament, composed of a House of Lords and a House of Commons, and as the former was then far more influential than the latter, supreme political control had rested practically with the king and the members of the upper house-great land-holding nobles and the princes of the church. The Wars of the Roses had two effects which redounded to the advantage of the king: (1) the struggle, being really a contest of two factions of nobles, destroyed many noble families and enabled the crown to seize their estates, thereby lessening the influence of an ancient class; (2) the struggle, being long and disorderly, created in the middle class or "common people" a longing for peace and the conviction that order and security could be maintained only by repression of the nobility and the strengthening of monarchy. Henry took advantage of these circumstances to fix upon his country an absolutism, or one-man power in government, which was to endure throughout the sixteenth century, during the reigns of the four other members of the Tudor family, and, in fact, until a popular revolution in the seventeenth century.

Henry VII repressed disorder with a heavy hand and secured the establishment of an extraordinary court, afterwards called the "Court of Star Chamber," to hear cases, especially those affecting the nobles, which the ordinary courts had not been able to settle. Then, too, he was very economical: the public revenue was increased by means of more careful attention to the cultivation of the crown lands and the collection of feudal dues, fines, benevolences [Footnote: "Benevolences" were sums of money extorted from the people in the guise of gifts. A celebrated minister of Henry VII collected a very large number of "benevolences" for his master. If a man lived economically, it was reasoned he was saving money and could afford a "present" for the king. If, on the contrary, he lived sumptuously, he was evidently wealthy and could likewise afford a "gift."], import and export duties, and past parliamentary grants, while, by means of frugality and a foreign policy of peace, the expenditure was appreciably decreased. Henry VII was thereby freed in large measure from dependence on Parliament for grants of money, and the power of Parliament naturally declined. In fact, Parliament met only five times during his whole reign and only once during the last twelve years, and in all its actions was quite subservient to the royal desires.

[Sidenote: Foreign relations of England under Henry VII]

Henry VII refrained in general from foreign war, but sought by other means to promote the international welfare of his country. He negotiated several treaties by which English traders might buy and sell goods in other countries. One of the most famous of these commercial treaties was the Intercursus Magnus concluded in 1496 with the duke of Burgundy, admitting English goods into the Netherlands. He likewise encouraged English companies of merchants to engage in foreign trade and commissioned the explorations of John Cabot in the New World. Henry increased the prestige of his house by politic marital alliances. He arranged a marriage between the heir to his throne, Arthur, and Catherine, eldest daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Spanish sovereigns. Arthur died a few months after his wedding, but it was arranged that Catherine should remain in England as the bride of the king's second son, who subsequently became Henry VIII. The king's daughter Margaret was married to King James IV of Scotland, thereby paving the way much later for the union of the crowns of England and Scotland.

England in the year 1500 was a real national monarchy, and the power of the king appeared to be distinctly in the ascendant. Parliament was fast becoming a purely formal and perfunctory body.


[Sidenote: The French Monarchy]

By the year 1500 the French monarchy was largely consolidated territorially and politically. It had been a slow and painful process, for long ago in 987, when Hugh Capet came to the throne, the France of his day was hardly more than the neighborhood of Paris, and it had taken five full centuries to unite the petty feudal divisions of the country into the great centralized state which we call France. The Hundred Years' War had finally freed the western duchies and counties from English control. Just before the opening of the sixteenth century the wily and tactful Louis XI (1461-1483) had rounded out French territories: on the east he had occupied the powerful duchy of Burgundy; on the west and on the southeast he had possessed himself of most of the great inheritance of the Angevin branch of his own family, including Anjou, and Provence east of the Rhone; and on the south the French frontier had been carried to the Pyrenees. Finally, Louis's son, Charles VIII (1483-1498), by marrying the heiress of Brittany, had absorbed that western duchy into France.

[Sidenote: Steady Growth of Royal Power in France]

Meanwhile, centralized political institutions had been taking slow but tenacious root in the country. Of course, many local institutions and customs survived in the various states which had been gradually added to France, but the king was now recognized from Flanders to Spain and from the Rhone to the Ocean as the source of law, justice, and order. There was a uniform royal coinage and a standing army under the king's command. The monarchs had struggled valiantly against the disruptive tendencies of feudalism; they had been aided by the commoners or middle class; and the proof of their success was their comparative freedom from political checks. The Estates-General, to which French commoners had been admitted in 1302, resembled in certain externals the English Parliament,-for example, in comprising representatives of the clergy, nobles, and commons,-but it had never had final say in levying taxes or in authorizing expenditures or in trying royal officers. And unlike England, there was in France no live tradition of popular participation in government and no written guarantee of personal liberty.

[Sidenote: Foreign Relations of the French Kings about 1500]

Consolidated at home in territory and in government, Frenchmen began about the year 1500 to be attracted to questions of external policy. By attempting to enforce an inherited claim to the crown of Naples, Charles VIII in 1494 started that career of foreign war and aggrandizement which was to mark the history of France throughout following centuries. His efforts in Italy were far from successful, but his heir, Louis XII (1498-1515), continued to lay claim to Naples and to the duchy of Milan as well. In 1504 Louis was obliged to resign Naples to King Ferdinand of Aragon, in whose family it remained for two centuries, but about Milan continued a conflict, with varying fortunes, ultimately merging into the general struggle between Francis I (1515- 1547) and the Emperor Charles V.

France in the year 1500 was a real national monarchy, with the beginnings of a national literature and with a national patriotism centering in the king. It was becoming self-conscious. Like England, France was on the road to one-man power, but unlike England, the way had been marked by no liberal or constitutional mile-posts.


[Sidenote: Development of the Spanish and Portuguese Monarchies]

South of the Pyrenees were the Spanish and Portuguese monarchies, which, in a long process of unification, not only had to contend against the same disuniting tendencies as appeared in France and England, but also had to solve the problem of the existence side by side of two great rival religions-Christianity and Mohammedanism. Mohammedan invaders from Africa had secured political control of nearly the whole peninsula as early as the eighth century, but in course of time there appeared in the northern and western mountains several diminutive Christian states, of which the following may be mentioned: Barcelona, in the northeast, along the Mediterranean; Aragon, occupying the south-central portion of the Pyrenees and extending southward toward the Ebro River; Navarre, at the west of the Pyrenees, reaching northward into what is now France and southward into what is now Spain; Castile, west of Navarre, circling about the town of Burgos; Leon, in the northwestern corner of the peninsula; and Portugal, south of Leon, lying along the Atlantic coast. Little by little these Christian states extended their southern frontiers at the expense of the Mohammedan power and showed some disposition to combine. In the twelfth century Barcelona was united with the kingdom of Aragon, and a hundred years later Castile and Leon were finally joined. Thus, by the close of the thirteenth century, there were three important states in the peninsula -Aragon on the east, Castile in the center, and Portugal on the west- and two less important states-Christian Navarre in the extreme north, and Mohammedan Granada in the extreme south.

While Portugal acquired its full territorial extension in the peninsula by the year 1263, the unity of modern Spain was delayed until after the marriage of Ferdinand (1479-1516) and Isabella (1474-1504), sovereigns respectively of Aragon and Castile. Granada, the last foothold of the Mohammedans, fell in 1492, and in 1512 Ferdinand acquired that part of the ancient kingdom of Navarre which lay upon the southern slope of the Pyrenees. The peninsula was henceforth divided between the two modern states of Spain and Portugal.

[Sidenote: Portugal a Real National Monarchy in 1500]

Portugal, the older and smaller of the two states, had become a conspicuous member of the family of nations by the year 1500, thanks to a line of able kings and to the remarkable series of foreign discoveries that cluster about the name of Prince Henry the Navigator. Portugal possessed a distinctive language of Latin origin and already cherished a literature of no mean proportions. In harmony with the spirit of the age the monarchy was tending toward absolutism, and the parliament, called the Cortes, which had played an important part in earlier times, ceased to meet regularly after 1521. The Portuguese royal family were closely related to the Castilian line, and there were people in both kingdoms who hoped that one day the whole peninsula would be united under one sovereign.

[Sidenote: The Spanish Kingdom in 1500]

From several standpoints the Spanish monarchy was less unified in 1500 than England, France, or Portugal. The union of Castile and Aragon was, for over two centuries, hardly more than personal. Each retained its own customs, parliaments (Cortes), and separate administration. Each possessed a distinctive language, although Castilian gradually became the literary "Spanish," while Catalan, the speech of Aragon, was reduced to the position of an inferior. Despite the continuance of excessive pride in local traditions and institutions, the cause of Spanish nationality received great impetus during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was under them that territorial unity had been obtained. It was they who turned the attention of Spaniards to foreign and colonial enterprises. The year that marked the fall of Granada and the final extinction of Mohammedan power in Spain was likewise signalized by the first voyage of Christopher Columbus, which prefigured the establishment of a greater Spain beyond the seas. On the continent of Europe, Spain speedily acquired a commanding position in international affairs, as the result largely of Ferdinand's ability. The royal house of Aragon had long held claims to the Neapolitan and Sicilian kingdoms and for two hundred years had freely mixed in the politics of Italy. Now, in 1504, Ferdinand definitely secured recognition from France of his rights in Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. Spain was becoming the rival of Venice for the leadership of the Mediterranean.

[Sidenote: Increase of Royal Power in Spain under Ferdinand and


While interfering very little with the forms of representative government in their respective kingdoms, Ferdinand and Isabella worked ever, in fact, toward uniformity and absolutism. They sought to ingratiate themselves with the middle class, to strip the nobility of its political influence, and to enlist the church in their service. The Cortes were more or less regularly convened, but their functions were almost imperceptibly transferred to royal commissions and officers of state. Privileges granted to towns in earlier times were now gradually revoked. The king, by becoming the head of the ancient military orders which had borne prominent part in the struggle against the Mohammedans, easily gained control of considerable treasure and of an effective fighting force. The sovereigns prevailed upon the pope to transfer control of the Inquisition, the medieval ecclesiastical tribunal for the trial of heretics, to the crown, so that the harsh penalties which were to be inflicted for many years upon dissenters from orthodox Christianity were due not only to religious bigotry but likewise to the desire for political uniformity.

In population and in domestic resources Spain was not so important as France, but the exploits of Ferdinand and Isabella, the great wealth which temporarily flowed to her from the colonies, the prestige which long attended her diplomacy and her armies, were to exalt the Spanish monarchy throughout the sixteenth century to a position quite out of keeping with her true importance.


[Sidenote: The Idea of an "Empire" Different in 1500 from that of a

"National Monarchy"]

The national monarchies of western Europe-England, France, Spain, and Portugal-were political novelties in the year 1500: the idea of uniting the people of similar language and customs under a strongly centralized state had been slowly developing but had not reached fruition much before that date. On the other hand, in central Europe survived in weakness an entirely different kind of state, called an empire. The theory of an empire was a very ancient one-it meant a state which should embrace all peoples of whatsoever race or language, bound together in obedience to a common prince. Such, for example, had been the ideal of the old Roman Empire, under whose Caesars practically the whole civilized world had once been joined, so that the inhabitant of Egypt or Armenia united with the citizen of Britain or Spain in allegiance to the emperor. That empire retained its hold on portions of eastern Europe until its final conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, but a thousand years earlier it had lost control of the West because of external violence and internal weakness. So great, however, was the strength of the idea of an "empire," even in the West, that Charlemagne about the year 800 temporarily united what are now France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium into what he persisted in styling the "Roman Empire." Nearly two centuries later, Otto the Great, a famous prince in Germany, gave other form to the idea, in the "Holy Roman Empire" of which he became emperor. This form endured from 962 to 1806.

[Sidenote: The Holy Roman Empire; Its Mighty Claims in Theory and its

Slight Power in Practice]

In theory, the Holy Roman Empire claimed supremacy over all Christian rulers and peoples of central and western Europe, and after the extinction of the eastern empire in 1453 it could insist that it was the sole secular heir to the ancient Roman tradition. But the greatness of the theoretical claim of the Holy Roman Empire was matched only by the insignificance of its practical acceptance. The feudal nobles of western Europe had never recognized it, and the national monarchs, though they might occasionally sport with its honors and titles, never admitted any real dependence upon it of England, France, Portugal, or Spain. In central Europe, it had to struggle against the anarchical tendencies of feudalism, against the rise of powerful and jealous city- states, and against a rival organization, the Catholic Church, which in its temporal affairs was at least as clearly an heir to the Roman tradition as was the Holy Roman Empire. From the eleventh to the thirteenth century the conflict raged, with results important for all concerned,-results which were thoroughly obvious in the year 1500.

[Sidenote: The Holy Roman Empire practically Restricted by 1500 to the


In the first place, the Holy Roman Empire was practically restricted to German-speaking peoples. The papacy and the Italian cities had been freed from imperial control, and both the Netherlands-that is, Holland and Belgium-and the Swiss cantons were only nominally connected. Over the Slavic people to the east-Russians, Poles, etc.-or the Scandinavians to the north, the empire had secured comparatively small influence. By the year 1500 the words Empire and Germany had become virtually interchangeable terms.

Secondly, there was throughout central Europe no conspicuous desire for strong centralized national states, such as prevailed in western Europe.

[Sidenote: Internal Weakness of the Holy Roman Empire]

Separatism was the rule. In Italy and in the Netherlands the city- states were the political units. Within the Holy Roman Empire was a vast hodge-podge of city-states, and feudal survivals-arch-duchies, such as Austria; margravates, such as Brandenburg; duchies, like Saxony, Bavaria, and Württemberg; counties like the Palatinate, and a host of free cities, baronies, and domains, some of them smaller than an American township. In all there were over three hundred states which collectively were called "the Germanies" and which were united only by the slender imperial thread. The idea of empire had not only been narrowed to one nation; it also, in its failure to overcome feudalism, had prevented the growth of a real national monarchy.

[Sidenote: Government of the Holy Roman Empire]

What was the nature of this slight tie that nominally held the Germanies together? There was the form of a central government with an emperor to execute laws and a Diet to make them. The emperor was not necessarily hereditary but was chosen by seven "electors," who were the chief princes of the realm. These seven were the archbishops of Mainz (Mayence), of Cologne, and of Trier (Trèves), the king of Bohemia, the duke of Saxony, the margrave of Brandenburg, and the count palatine of the Rhine. Not infrequently the electors used their position to extort concessions from the emperor elect which helped to destroy German unity and to promote the selfish interests of the princes. The imperial Diet was composed of the seven electors, the lesser princes (including the higher ecclesiastical dignitaries, such as bishops and abbots), and representatives of the free cities, grouped in three separate houses. The emperor was not supposed to perform any imperial act without the authorization of the Diet, and petty jealousies between its members or houses often prevented action in the Diet. The individual states, moreover, reserved to themselves the management of most affairs which in western Europe had been surrendered to the central national government. The Diet, and therefore the emperor, was without a treasury or an army, unless the individual states saw fit to act favorably upon its advice and furnish the requested quotas. The Diet resembled far more a congress of diplomats than a legislative body.

[Sidenote: The Habsburgs: Weak as Emperors but Strong as Rulers of

Particular States within the Holy Roman Empire]

It will be readily perceived that under these circumstances the emperor as such could have little influence. Yet the fear of impending Slavic or Turkish attacks upon the eastern frontier, or other fears, frequently operated to secure the election of some prince who had sufficiently strong power of his own to stay the attack or remove the fear. In this way, Rudolph, count of Habsburg, had been chosen emperor in 1273, and in his family, with few interruptions, continued the imperial title, not only to 1500 but to the final extinction of the empire in 1806. Several of these Habsburg emperors were influential, but it must always be remembered that they owed their power not to the empire but to their own hereditary states.

Originally lords of a small district in Switzerland, the Habsburgs had gradually increased their holdings until at length in 1273 Rudolph, the maker of his family's real fortunes, had been chosen Holy Roman Emperor, and three years later had conquered the valuable archduchy of Austria with its capital of Vienna. The family subsequently became related by marriage to reigning families in Hungary and in Italy as well as in Bohemia and other states of the empire. In 1477 the Emperor Maximilian I (1493-1519) married Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold and heiress of the wealthy provinces of the Netherlands; and in 1496 his son Philip was united to Joanna, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella and heiress of the crowns of Castile and Aragon. The fortunes of the Habsburgs were decidedly auspicious.

[Sidenote: Vain Attempts to "Reform" the Holy Roman Empire]

Of course, signs were not wanting of some national life in the Germanies. Most of the people spoke a common language; a form of national unity existed in the Diet; and many patriots raised their voice in behalf of a stronger and more centralized government. In 1495 a Diet met at the city of Worms to discuss with Emperor Maximilian projects of reform. After protracted debates, it was agreed that private warfare, a survival of feudal days, should be abolished; a perpetual peace should be declared; and an imperial court should be established to settle all disputes between states within the empire. These efforts at reform, like many before and after, were largely unfruitful, and, despite occasional protests, practical disunion prevailed in the Germanies of the sixteenth century, albeit under the high-sounding title of "Holy Roman Empire."


[Sidenote: "City-States" in 1500]

Before the dawn of the Christian era the Greeks and Romans had entertained a general idea of political organization which would seem strange to most of us at the present time. They believed that every city with its outlying country should constitute an independent state, with its own particular law-making and governing bodies, army, coinage, and foreign relations. To them, the idea of an empire was intolerable and the concept of a national state, such as we commonly have to-day, unthinkable.

Now it so happened, as we shall see in the following chapter, that the commerce of the middle ages stimulated the growth of important trading towns in Italy, in Germany, and in the Netherlands. These towns, in one way or another, managed to secure a large measure of self-government, so that by the year 1500 they had become somewhat similar to the city- states of antiquity. In Germany, though they still maintained their local self-government, they were loosely attached to the Holy Roman Empire and were overshadowed in political influence by other states. In the case of Italy and of the Netherlands, however, it is impossible to understand the politics of those countries in the sixteenth century without paying some attention to city-states, which played leading r?les in both.

[Sidenote: Italy in 1500 neither a National Monarchy not Attached to the Holy Roman Empire]

In the Italy of the year 1500 there was not even the semblance of national political unity. Despite the ardent longings of many Italian patriots [Footnote: Of such patriots was Machiavelli (see below, p. 194). Machiavelli wrote in The Prince: "Our country, left almost without life, still waits to know who it is that is to heal her bruises, to put an end to the devastation and plunder of Lombardy and to the exactions and imposts of Naples and Tuscany, and to stanch those wounds of hers which long neglect has changed into running sores. We see how she prays God to send some one to rescue her from these barbarous cruelties and oppressions. We see too how ready and eager she is to follow any standard, were there only some one to raise it."], and the rise of a common language, which, under such masters as Dante and Petrarch, had become a great medium for literary expression, the people of the peninsula had not built up a national monarchy like those of western Europe nor had they even preserved the form of allegiance to the Holy Roman Empire. This was due to several significant events of earlier times. In the first place, the attempt of the medieval German emperors to gain control of Italy not only had signall

y failed but had left behind two contending factions throughout the whole country,-one, the Ghibellines, supporting the doctrine of maintaining the traditional connection with the Germanies; the other, the Guelphs, rejecting that doctrine. In the second place, the pope, who exercised extensive political as well as religious power, felt that his ecclesiastical influence would be seriously impaired by the creation of political unity in the country; a strong lay monarch with a solid Italy behind him would in time reduce the sovereign pontiff to a subservient position and diminish the prestige which the head of the church enjoyed in foreign lands; therefore the popes participated actively in the game of Italian politics, always endeavoring to prevent any one state from becoming too powerful. Thirdly, the comparatively early commercial prominence of the Italian towns had stimulated trade rivalries which tended to make each proud of its independence and wealth; and as the cities grew and prospered to an unwonted degree, it became increasingly difficult to join them together. Finally, the riches of the Italians, and the local jealousies and strife, to say nothing of the papal policy, marked the country as natural prey for foreign interference and conquest; and in this way the peninsula became a battleground for Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Germans.

Before reviewing the chief city-states of northern Italy, it will be well to say a word about two other political divisions of the country. The southern third of the peninsula comprised the ancient kingdom of Naples, which had grown up about the city of that name, and which together with the large island of Sicily, was called the kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

[Sidenote: Southern Italy in 1500: the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies]

This state, having been first formed by Scandinavian adventurers in the eleventh century, had successively passed under papal suzerainty, under the domination of the German emperors, and at length in 1266 under French control. A revolt in Sicily in the year 1282, commonly called the Sicilian Vespers, had severed the relation between the island and the mainland, the former passing to the royal family of Aragon, and the latter troublously remaining in French hands until 1442. The reunion of the Two Sicilies at that date under the crown of Aragon served to keep alive the quarrel between the French and the Spanish; and it was not until 1504 that the king of France definitely renounced his Neapolitan claims in favor of Ferdinand of Aragon. Socially and politically Naples was the most backward state in Italy.

[Sidenote: Italy in 1500: the Papal States]

About the city of Rome had grown up in the course of centuries the Papal States, or as they were officially styled, the Patrimony of St. Peter. It had early fallen to the lot of the bishop, as the most important person in the city, to exercise political power over Rome, when barbarian invasions no longer permitted the exercise of authority by Roman emperors; and control over neighboring districts, as well as over the city, had been expressly recognized and conferred upon the bishop by Charlemagne in the eighth century. This bishop of Rome was, of course, the pope; and the pope slowly extended his territories through central Italy from the Tiber to the Adriatic, long using them merely as a bulwark to his religious and ecclesiastical prerogatives. By the year 1500, however, the popes were becoming prone to regard themselves as Italian princes who might normally employ their states as so many pawns in the game of peninsular politics. The policy of the notorious Alexander VI (1492-1503) centered in his desire to establish his son, Cesare Borgia, as an Italian ruler; and Julius II (1503-1513) was famed more for statecraft and military prowess than for religious fervor.

[Sidenote: The City-States of Northern Italy in 1500]

North and west of the Papal States were the various city-states which were so thoroughly distinctive of Italian politics at the opening of the sixteenth century. Although these towns had probably reached a higher plane both of material prosperity and of intellectual culture than was to be found at that time in any other part of Europe, nevertheless they were deeply jealous of each other and carried on an interminable series of petty wars, the brunt of which was borne by professional hired soldiers and freebooters styled condottieri. Among the Italian city-states, the most famous in the year 1500 were Milan, Venice, Genoa, and Florence.

[Sidenote: Italian City-States: Milan Governed by Despots]

Of these cities, Milan was still in theory a ducal fief of the Holy Roman Empire, but had long been in fact the prize of despotic rulers who were descended from two famous families-the Visconti and the Sforza-and who combined the patronage of art with the fine political subtleties of Italian tyrants. The Visconti ruled Milan from the thirteenth century to the middle of the fifteenth, when a Sforza, a leader of condottieri established the supremacy of his own family. In 1499, however, King Louis XII of France, claiming the duchy as heir to the Visconti, seized Milan and held it until he was expelled in 1512 by the Holy League, composed of the pope, Venice, Spain, and England, and a Sforza was temporarily reinstated.

[Sidenote: Venice, a Type of the Commercial and Aristocratic Italian


As Milan was the type of Italian city ruled by a despot or tyrant, so Venice was a type of the commercial, oligarchical city-states. Venice was by far the most powerful state in the peninsula. Located on the islands and lagoons at the head of the Adriatic, she had profited greatly by the crusades to build up a maritime empire and an enviable trade on the eastern Mediterranean and had extended her sway over rich lands in the northeastern part of Italy. In the year 1500, Venice boasted 3000 ships, 300,000 sailors, a numerous and veteran army, famous factories of plate glass, silk stuffs, and gold and silver objects, and a singularly strong government. Nominally Venice was a republic, but actually an oligarchy. Political power was intrusted jointly to several agencies: (1) a grand council controlled by the commercial magnates; (2) a centralized committee of ten; (3) an elected doge, or duke; and (4), after 1454, three state inquisitors, henceforth the city's real masters. The inquisitors could pronounce sentence of death, dispose of the public funds, and enact statutes; they maintained a regular spy system; and trial, judgment, and execution were secret. The mouth of the lion of St. Mark received anonymous denunciations, and the waves which passed under the Bridge of Sighs carried away the corpses. To this regime Venice owed an internal peace which contrasted with the endless civil wars of the other Italian cities. Till the final destruction of the state in 1798 Venice knew no political revolution. In foreign affairs, also, Venice possessed considerable influence; she was the first European state to send regular envoys, or ambassadors, to other courts. It seemed in 1500 as if she were particularly wealthy and great, but already had been sowed the seed of her subsequent decline and humiliation. The advance of the Ottoman Turks threatened her position in eastern Europe, although she still held the Morea in Greece, Crete, Cyprus, and many Ionian and ?gean islands. The discovery of America and of a new route to India was destined to shake the very basis of her commercial supremacy. And her unscrupulous policy toward her Italian rivals lost her friends to the west. So great was the enmity against Venice that the formidable League of Cambrai, entered into by the emperor, the pope, France, and Spain in 1508, wrung many concessions from her.

[Sidenote: Genoa]

Second only to Venice in commercial importance, Genoa, in marked contrast with her rival, passed through all manner of political vicissitudes until in 1499 she fell prey to the invasion of King Louis XII of France. Thereafter Genoa remained some years subject to the French, but in 1528 the resolution of an able citizen, Andrea Doria, freed the state from foreign invaders and restored to Genoa her republican institutions.

The famed city-state of Florence may be taken as the best type of the democratic community, controlled by a political leader. The city, as famous for its free institutions as for its art, in the first half of the fifteenth century had come under the tutelage of a family of traders and bankers, the wealthy Medici, who preserved the republican forms, and for a while, under Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492), surnamed the Magnificent, made Florence the center of Italian culture and civilization.

[Sidenote: Florence, a Type of the Cultured and Democratic Italian


Soon after the death of Lorenzo, a democratic reaction took place under an enthusiastic and puritanical monk, Savonarola, who welcomed the advent of the French king, Charles VIII, in 1494, and aided materially in the expulsion of the Medici. Savonarola soon fell a victim to the plots of his Florentine enemies and to the vengeance of the pope, whom Charles VIII had offended, and was put to death in 1498, The democracy managed to survive until 1512 when the Medici returned. The city-state of Florence subsequently became the grand-duchy of Tuscany.

[Sidenote: The Obscure Duchy of Savoy in 1500]

Before we take leave of the Italian states of the year 1500, mention should be made of the insignificant duchy of Savoy, tucked away in the fastnesses of the northwestern Alps, whose duke, after varying fortunes, was to become, in the nineteenth century, king of a united Italy.

[Sidenote: The City-States in the Netherlands]

The city-state was the dominant form of political organization not only in Italy but also in the Netherlands. The Netherlands, or the Low Countries, were seventeen provinces occupying the flat lowlands along the North Sea,-the Holland, Belgium, and northern France of our own day. Most of the inhabitants, Flemings and Dutch, spoke a language akin to German, but in the south the Walloons used a French dialect. At first the provinces had been mere feudal states at the mercy of various warring noblemen, but gradually in the course of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, important towns had arisen so wealthy and populous that they were able to wrest charters from the lords. Thus arose a number of municipalities-practically self- governing republics-semi-independent vassals of feudal nobles; and in many cases the early oligarchic systems of municipal government speedily gave way to more democratic institutions. Remarkable in industry and prosperity were Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Brussels, Liege, Utrecht, Delft, Rotterdam, and many another.

[Sidenote: Relation of the City-Stats of the Netherlands to the Dukes of Burgundy]

Beginning in 1384 and continuing throughout the fifteenth century, the dukes of Burgundy, who as vassals of the French king had long held the duchy of that name in eastern France, succeeded by marriage, purchase, treachery, or force in bringing one by one the seventeen provinces of the Netherlands under their rule. This extension of dominion on the part of the dukes of Burgundy implied the establishment of a strong monarchical authority, which was supported by the nobility and clergy and opposed by the cities. In 1465 a common parliament, called the States General, was constituted at Brussels, containing deputies from each of the seventeen provinces; and eight years later a grand council was organized with supreme judicial and financial functions. Charles the Bold, who died in 1477, was prevented from constructing a great central kingdom between France and the Germanies only by the shrewdness of his implacable foe, King Louis XI of France. As we have seen, in another connection, Louis seized the duchy of Burgundy on the death of Charles the Bold, thereby extending the eastern frontier of France, but the duke's inheritance in the Netherlands passed to his daughter Mary. In 1477 Mary's marriage with Maximilian of Austria began the long domination of the Netherlands by the house of Habsburg.

Throughout these political changes, the towns of the Netherlands maintained many of their former privileges, and their prosperity steadily increased. The country became the richest in Europe, and the splendor of the ducal court surpassed that of any contemporary sovereign. A permanent memorial of it remains in the celebrated Order of the Golden Fleece, which was instituted by the duke of Burgundy in the fifteenth century and was so named from the English wool, the raw material used in the Flemish looms and the very foundation of the country's fortunes.


[Sidenote: Northern and Eastern Europe of Small Importance in the

Sixteenth Century, but of Great Importance Subsequently]

We have now reviewed the states that were to be the main factors in the historical events of the sixteenth century-the national monarchies of England, France, Portugal, and Spain; the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanies; and the city-states of Italy and the Netherlands. It may be well, however, to point out that in northern and eastern Europe other states had already come into existence, which subsequently were to affect in no small degree the history of modern times, such as the Scandinavian kingdoms, the tsardom of Muscovy, the feudal kingdoms of Poland and Hungary, and the empire of the Ottoman Turks.

[Sidenote: Northwestern Europe: the Scandinavian Countries]

In the early homes of those Northmen who had long before ravaged the coasts of England and France and southern Italy and had colonized Iceland and Greenland, were situated in 1500 three kingdoms, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, corresponding generally to the present-day states of those names. The three countries had many racial and social characteristics in common, and they had been politically joined under the king of Denmark by the Union of Calmar in 1397. This union never evoked any popularity among the Swedes, and after a series of revolts and disorders extending over fifty years, Gustavus Vasa (1523-1560) established the independence of Sweden. Norway remained under Danish kings until 1814.

[Sidenote: The Slavs in Central and Eastern Europe]

East of the Scandinavian peninsula and of the German-speaking population of central Europe, spread out like a great fan, are a variety of peoples who possess many common characteristics, including a group of closely related languages, which are called Slavic. These Slavs in the year 1500 included (1) the Russians, (2) the Poles and Lithuanians, (3) the Czechs, or natives of Bohemia, within the confines of the Holy Roman Empire, and (4) various nations in southeastern Europe, such as the Serbs and Bulgars.

[Sidenote: Russia in 1500]

The Russians in 1500 did not possess such a huge autocratic state as they do to-day. They were distributed among several principalities, the chief and center of which was the grand-duchy of Muscovy, with Moscow as its capital. Muscovy's reigning family was of Scandinavian extraction but what civilization and Christianity the principalities possessed had been brought by Greek missionaries from Constantinople. For two centuries, from the middle of the thirteenth to the middle of the fifteenth, the Russians paid tribute to Mongol [Footnote: The Mongols were a people of central Asia, whose famous leader, Jenghiz Khan (1162-1227), established an empire which stretched from the China Sea to the banks of the Dnieper. It was these Mongols who drove the Ottoman Turks from their original Asiatic home and thus precipitated the Turkish invasion of Europe. After the death of Jenghiz Khan the Mongol Empire was broken into a variety of "khanates," all of which in course of time dwindled away. In the sixteenth century the Mongols north of the Black Sea succumbed to the Turks as well as to the Russians.] khans who had set up an Asiatic despotism north of the Black Sea. The beginnings of Russian greatness are traceable to Ivan III, the Great (1462-1505), [Footnote: Ivan IV (1533-1584), called "The Terrible," a successor of Ivan III, assumed the title of "Tsar" in 1547.] who freed his people from Mongol domination, united the numerous principalities, conquered the important cities of Novgorod and Pskov, and extended his sway as far as the Arctic Ocean and the Ural Mountains. Russia, however, could hardly then be called a modern state, for the political and social life still smacked of Asia rather than of Europe, and the Russian Christianity, having been derived from Constantinople, differed from the Christianity of western Europe. Russia was not to appear as a conspicuous European state until the eighteenth century.

[Sidenote: Poland in 1500]

Southwest of the tsardom of Muscovy and east of the Holy Roman Empire was the kingdom of Poland, to which Lithuanians as well as Poles owed allegiance. Despite wide territories and a succession of able rulers, Poland was a weak monarchy. Lack of natural boundaries made national defense difficult. Civil war between the two peoples who composed the state and foreign war with the neighboring Germans worked havoc and distress. An obstructive parliament of great lords rendered effective administration impossible. The nobles possessed the property and controlled politics; in their hands the king gradually became a puppet. Poland seemed committed to feudal society and feudal government at the very time when the countries of western Europe were ridding themselves of such checks upon the free growth of centralized national states.

[Sidenote: Hungary in 1500]

Somewhat similar to Poland in its feudal propensities was the kingdom of Hungary, which an invasion of Asiatic tribesmen [Footnote: Hungarians, or Magyars-different names for the same people.] in the tenth century had driven like a wedge between the Slavs of the Balkan peninsula and those of the north Poles and Russians. At first, the efforts of such kings as St. Stephen (997-1038) promised the development of a great state, but the weakness of the sovereigns in the thirteenth century, the infiltration of western feudalism, and the endless civil discords brought to the front a powerful and predatory class of barons who ultimately overshadowed the throne. The brilliant reign of Matthias Hunyadi (1458-1490) was but an exception to the general rule. Not only were the kings obliged to struggle against the nobles for their very existence-the crown was elective in Hungary-but no rulers had to contend with more or greater enemies on their frontiers. To the north there was perpetual conflict with the Habsburgs of German Austria and with the forces of the Holy Roman Empire; to the east there were spasmodic quarrels with the Vlachs, the natives of modern Rumania; to the south there was continual fighting, at first with the Greeks and the Slavs-Serbs and Bulgars, and later, most terrible of all, with the Ottoman Turks.

[Sidenote: The Ottoman Turks in 1500]

To the Eastern Roman Empire, with Constantinople as its capital, and with the Greeks as its dominant population, and to the medieval kingdoms of the Bulgars and Serbs, had succeeded by the year 1500 the empire of the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Turks were a tribe of Asiatic Mohammedans who took their name from a certain Othman (died 1326), under whom they had established themselves in Asia Minor, across the Bosphorus from Constantinople. Thence they rapidly extended their dominion over Syria, and over Greece and the Balkan peninsula, except the little mountain state of Montenegro, and in 1453 they captured Constantinople. The lands conquered by the arms of the Turks were divided into large estates for the military leaders, or else assigned to the maintenance of mosques and schools, or converted into common and pasturage lands; the conquered Christians were reduced to the payment of tribute and a life of serfdom. For two centuries the Turks were to remain a source of grave apprehension to Europe.


THE NATIONAL MONARCHIES ABOUT 1600. A. F. Pollard, Factors in European History (1907), ch. i on "Nationality" and ch. iii on "The New Monarchy"; Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I, ch. xiv, xii, xi; Histoire générale, Vol. IV, ch. xiii, iv, v; History of All Nations, Vol. X, ch. xii-xvi; A. H. Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Century (1897), ch. i, ii; Mary A. Hollings, Renaissance and Reformation (1910), ch. i-v. On England: A. L. Cross, History of England and Greater Britain (1914), ch. xviii; J. F. Bright, History of England, Vol. II, a standard work; James Gairdner, Henry VII (1889), a reliable short biography; Gladys Temperley, Henry VII (1914), fairly reliable and quite readable; H. A. L. Fisher, Political History of England 1485-1547 (1906), ch. i-iv, brilliant and scholarly; A. D. Innes, History of England and the British Empire (1914), Vol. II, ch. i, ii; William Cunningham, The Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modern Times, 5th ed., 3 vols. (1910-1912), Vol. I, Book V valuable for social conditions under Henry VII; William (Bishop) Stubbs, Lectures on Medi?val and Modern History, ch. xv, xvi; F. W. Maitland, The Constitutional History of England (1908), Period II. On Scotland: P. H. Brown, History of Scotland, 3 vols. (1899-1909), Vol. I from earliest times to the middle of the sixteenth century; Andrew Lang, A History of Scotland, 2d ed., 4 vols. (1901- 1907), Vol. I. On France: A. J. Grant, The French Monarchy, 1483- 1789, 2 vols. (1900), Vol. I, ch. i, ii, brief and general; G. B. Adams, The Growth of the French Nation (1896), ch. viii-x, a suggestive sketch; G. W. Kitchin, A History of France, 4th ed., 3 vols. (1894-1899), Vol. I and Vol. II (in part), dry and narrowly political; Lavisse (editor), Histoire de France, Vol. V, Part I (1903), an exhaustive and scholarly study. On Spain and Portugal: E. P. Cheyney, European Background of American History (1904), pp. 60-103; U. R. Burke, A History of Spain from the Earliest Times to the Death of Ferdinand the Catholic, 2d ed., 2 vols. (1900), edited by M. A. S. Hume, Vol. II best account of the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella; W. H. Prescott, History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, 3 vols. (1836), antiquated but extremely readable; Mrs. Julia Cartwright, Isabella the Catholic (1914), in "Heroes of the Nations" Series; H. M. Stephens, Portugal (1891) in "Story of the Nations" Series; F. W. Schirrmacher, Geschichte von Spanien, 7 vols. (1902), an elaborate German work, of which Vol. VII covers the years 1492-1516.

THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE. Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I (1902), ch. ix, a political sketch; James (Viscount) Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire, new ed. revised (1911); William Coxe, History of the House of Austria, Bohn edition, 4 vols. (1893-1894), a century-old work but still useful for Habsburg history; Sidney Whitman, Austria (1899), and, by the same author, The Realm of the Habsburgs (1893) 5 Kurt Kaser, Deutsche Geschichte zur Zeit Maximilians I, 1486-1519 (1912), an excellent study appearing in "Bibliothek deutscher Geschichte," edited by Von Zwiedineck-Südenhorst; Franz Krones, Handbuch der Geschichte Oesterreichs von der altesten Zeit, 5 vols. (1876-1879), of which Vol. II, Book XI treats of political events in Austria from 1493 to 1526 and Vol. III, Book XII of constitutional development 1100-1526; Leopold von Ranke, History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations, 1494- 1514, a rev. trans. in the Bohn Library (1915) of the earliest important work of this distinguished historian, published originally in 1824.

ITALY AND THE CITY STATES. Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I (1902), ch. iv-viii; _Histoire générale, Vol. IV, ch. i, ii; Mrs. H. M. Vernon, Italy from 1494 to 1790 (1909), a clear account in the "Cambridge Historical Series"; J. A. Symonds, Age of the Despots (1883), pleasant but inclined to the picturesque; Pompeo Molmenti, Venice, its Individual Growth from the Earliest Beginnings to the Fall of the Republic, trans. by H. F. Brown, 6 vols. (1906-1908), an exhaustive narrative of the details of Venetian history; Edward Armstrong, Lorenzo de' Medici (1897), in the "Heroes of the Nations" Series, valuable for Florentine history about 1500; Col. G. F. Young, The Medici, 2 vols. (1909), an extended history of this famous Florentine family from 1400 to 1743; Ferdinand Gregorovius, History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages, trans. from 4th German ed. by Annie Hamilton, 8 vols. in 13, a non-Catholic account of the papal monarchy in Italy, of which Vol. VII, Part II and Vol. VIII, Part I treat of Rome about 1500. For the city-states of the Netherlands see Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I (1902), ch. xiii; the monumental History of the People of the Netherlands, by the distinguished Dutch historian P. J. Blok, trans. by O. A. Bierstadt, 5 vols. (1898-1912), especially Vols. I and II; and Belgian Democracy: its Early History, trans. by J. V. Saunders (1915) from the authoritative work of the famous Belgian historian Henri Pirenne (1910). For the German city-states see references under HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE above.

NORTHERN AND EASTERN EUROPE ABOUT 1500. General: Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I (1902), ch. x, iii; _Histoire générale, Vol. IV, ch. xviii-xxi; R. N. Bain, Slavonic Europe: a Political History of Poland and Russia from 1447 to 1796 (1908), ch. i-iv; T. Schiemann, Russland, Polen, und Livland bis ins 17ten Jahrhundert, 2 vols. (1886-1887). Norway: H. H. Boyesen, The History of Norway (1886), a brief popular account in "Story of the Nations" Series. Muscovy: V. O. Kliuchevsky, A History of Russia, trans. with some abridgments by C. J. Hogarth, 3 vols. to close of seventeenth century (1911-1913), latest and, despite faulty translation, most authoritative work on early Russian history now available in English; Alfred Rambaud, Histoire de la Russie depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours, 6th ed. completed to 1913 by émile Haumant (1914), a brilliant work, of which the portion down to 1877 has been trans. by Leonora B. Lang, 2 vols. (1879); W. R. A. Morfill, Russia, in "Story of the Nations" Series, and Poland, a companion volume in the same series. See also Jeremiah Curtin, The Mongols: a History (1908). For the Magyars: C. M. Knatchbull-Hugessen, The Political Evolution of the Hungarian Nation, 2 vols. (1908), especially Vol. I, ch. i-iii; A. Vámbéry, The Story of Hungary (1886) in "Story of the Nations" Series; Count Julius Andrássy, The Development of Hungarian Constitutional Liberty, trans. by C. Arthur and Ilona Ginever (1908), the views of a contemporary Magyar statesman on the constitutional development of his country throughout the middle ages and down to 1619, difficult to read. For the Ottoman Turks and the Balkan peoples: Stanley Lane-Poole, Turkey (1889), in "Story of the Nations" Series, best brief introduction; A. H. Lybyer, The Government of the Ottoman Empire in the Time of Suleiman the Magnificent (1913); Prince and Princess Lazarovich-Hrebelianovich, The Servian People, their Past Glory and their Destiny, 2 vols. (1910), particularly Vol. II, ch. xi, xii; far more pretentious works are, Joseph von Hammer, Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches, 2d ed., 4 vols. (1834-1835), and Nicolae Jorga, Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches nach den Quellen dargestellt, 5 vols. (1908-1913), especially Vol. II, 1451-1538, and H. A. Gibbons, The Foundation of the Ottoman Empire (1916), covering the earlier years, from 1300 to 1403.

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