Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/350

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temporary expedients of an ingenious but superficial and temporising waiter on events. In a few years fresh royal ordinances upset the system as easily as it had been called into being; and in practice Maximilian's reforms were not much better carried out than those of the Diet. The Aulic Council ceased to exist, and its revival was only forced upon Maximilian by the Estates of his own dominions, which saw in a standing council of this sort a means of checking arbitrary prerogative. Max died before the renewed Aulic Council came into working order. Later, its permanent establishment was secured, and as time went on it proved a rather formidable rival to the imperial Chamber. In after ages it was found more advantageous to take suits before the Emperor's Court than before the Court of the Empire, because justice was cheaper, quicker, and more certain in the Aulic Council than in the imperial Chamber.

Maximilian soon ceased to take much interest in reforming the Empire by royal prerogative. But he continued to busy himself with schemes for strengthening and unifying the administration of his hereditary dominions. He had long ago chased away the Hungarian conquerors of Vienna, and put an end to the division of the Austrian lands between two rival branches of the Habsburg House. The Aulic Council and the Innsbruck Chamber had a less direct bearing on the Empire than on the hereditary dominions, for the whole of which the Chamber might well have been the source of a single financial system. But Maximilian soon set up, in place of the single Hofkammer, two Chambers sitting at Vienna for Lower Austria (i.e. Austria, Carinthia, Carniola, Styria and Istria), and at Innsbruck for Upper Austria (Tyrol, Vorarlberg and East Swabia), with perhaps a third organisation for the scattered Vorlande in the Black Forest and Elsass. In 1501 followed an elaborate plan of administrative reform for Lower Austria, which established six executive, judicial, and financial bodies at Linz, Vienna, and Wiener Neustadt. These are the first signs of a reaction from Maximilian's centralising policy which became stronger towards the end of his reign. It is hard to determine how far this proceeded from his instability, and how far from the pressure of the local Estates of the Austrian dominions to which his financial embarrassments ever made him peculiarly liable. In the end, however, it was the Estates that took the lead, in Austria as in the Empire. The meeting at Innsbruck in 1518, famous in Austrian history, of deputations from the various Landtage of the hereditary lands, is justly regarded as the first establishment of any organic unity within the Austrian dominions. Maximilian shared with the Estates the merit of convoking the meeting; and it was this body that sanctioned the scheme for the erection of a Reichshofrath, to which reference has already been made. Of the eighteen members of this Aulic Council of the Empire, five were to be presented by the Empire, nine by the various Austrian lands, and the remainder were to consist of great