Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/349

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established by the Estates at the expense of his supreme authority. Besides this general motive, he found a particular object for such action in the condition of his Austrian territories, which were as disunited and disorderly as feudal States were ever wont to be. He had already begun to combine the ordered administration of his hereditary lands with a rival imperial system that sprang from the royal initiative. The first great step was Maximilian's Hofrathsordnung of 1497. Since the ancient Hofrath of the Middle Ages had been merged in the Hammergericht of Frederick III, which had in its turn been superseded by the Reichskammergericht of the reformers, there was no royal Court adequate to support and represent the Crown either in the Empire or the hereditary lands of the House of Austria. Maximilian now set up a permanent Aulic Council (Hofrath), competent to deal with "all and every business that can flow in from the Empire, Christendom at large, or the King's hereditary principalities." This body was to follow the royal Court, was to be appointed by the King, and was to decide on all matters by a majority. It was not only a High Court of Justice, exercising concurrent jurisdiction with the Reichskammergerwht. It was also a supreme administrative body. It was to stand to the Empire and the Estates as the Concilium Ordinarium of the late medieval English Kings stood to England and the English Parliament. Next year, Maximilian further improved his executive government. The Hofkammerordnung of 1498 set up a separate financial administration, dependent on the Emperor, and subordinated also to the Aulic Council, which heard appeals from its decisions. This body, which was to sit at Innsbruck, was to centralise the financial machinery of Empire and hereditary dominions alike under four Treasurers, one for the Empire, one for Burgundy, and two for Austria. About the same date the Hofkanzkiordnung completed these monarchical reforms by setting up a Chancery or Office of State on modern lines and with powers such as could never be given to hereditary Chancellors like the Rhenish Archbishops. In these measures the King offered to his subjects rival guarantees for order, peace, and prosperity to those procured for them by the Diet. After the Gelnhausen meeting he proceeded still further on the same course. He set up a new Kammergerickt, consisting of judges appointed by himself, and this body actually had a short and troubled life at Ratisbon. He also talked of a new Reichsregiment, which was to be a Privy Council dependent on King alone; but this scheme never came into being.

Had Max been a great statesman, aiming at one thing at a time, this system might have been the beginning of a centralised bureaucracy that would have soon pervaded the whole Empire with monarchical ideas of administration. But he was neither persevering, nor wholehearted, nor far-seeing enough to pursue deliberately the policy of making himself a despot; and his reforms soon showed themselves to be but the