Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/342

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meet in February, 1496, and complete the new constitution, never came into being, neither Max nor the princes thinking it worth their while to attend. Before long want of money and want of coercive power vitiated the whole scheme of reform. The imperial Chamber ceased to be efficient when its decisions could not be enforced, and when its members, seeing no prospect of their promised salaries from an empty treasury, compensated themselves by taking bribes from suitors or transferred themselves to more profitable employments.

The next few years were marked by a series of strenuous efforts on the part of Berthold to carry through in practice what had already been accepted in name. Max's need for money soon gave him his chance. The Diet was summoned to meet the Emperor at Chiavenna; and, when the princes refused to cross the Alps, its meeting-place was fixed for Lindau on the Lake of Constance. The remote and inconvenient little island city was, to the great disgust of the Estates, selected because of its nearness to Italy. The princes were ordered to bring with them their share of the Common Penny and their quota of troops to support the Emperor in Italy. But the Diet, which was opened in September, 1496, was very scantily attended. The princes who appeared came to Lindau without either^ money or men. In Maximilian's absence Berthold of Mainz stood forth more conspicuously than ever as the leader of the Estates. He passionately exhorted the Germans to follow the example of the Swiss, who through union and trust in one another had made themselves respected and feared by all the world. His special object was to insist upon the execution of the Edict of Worms in the Austrian hereditary dominions, where but slight regard had hitherto been paid to it. He also secured the passing of a resolution that the Common Penny should be paid to the imperial Treasurers by March, 1497, and that its disposition should be determined by a new Diet to be summoned for the spring. By promptly providing for the salaries of its members, Berthold also prevented the dissolution of the Kammergericht, which the Diet now transferred to Worms, because that city was regarded as a more accessible place than Frankfort for the doctors of the Rhenish Universities.

The Diet reassembled in the spring of 1497 at Worms; but again the Emperor did not appear. Despite the Landfriede the Elector of Trier waged a fierce war against Boppard, and with the help of his neighbours reduced the town to his obedience. The Swiss refused to recognise a decision of the Kammergericht. The Common Penny came in but slowly. But external political complications once more helped forward the schemes of the German reformers. Louis XII succeeded Charles VIII as King of France. Before long he had occupied the Milanese and forced Maximilian's own son Philip, as ruler of the Netherlands, to make a separate peace with him by which the young Archduke formally left Burgundy in French hands for Louis's life. Reduced to desperation by