Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/352

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died the last hopes of the constitutional reformers of the Empire. Their best chance had ever been the necessities of their King's enterprising foreign policy; but these years also saw the realisation of the brightest dreams of the House of Austria. The Archduke Philip was wedded to Joanna, the heiress of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. On Isabella's death in 1504 Philip became King of Castile. To this great dignity was added the prospect of the inheritance of the aged Ferdinand in Aragon and in Naples. With such an extension of his European influence it seemed unlikely that Maximilian would again come before his Estates the helpless suitor that he had been of old.

The history of the Diet of Cologne of 1505 brings out clearly the different position now attained by King and Estates respectively. To this Diet Maximilian came triumphant from his hard-earned victory in Gelderland, attended by a great crowd of enthusiastic nobles and soldiers. He had no longer to face his ancient enemies. Berthold of Mainz had died in the midst of the Landshut troubles, worn out with disease and anxiety, and already conscious of the complete failure of his plans. His former ally, John of Baden, Elector of Trier, had died before him in 1503. Their successors, Jacob of Liebenstein at Mainz and Jacob of Baden, at Trier, were mere creatures of the King, and the latter Maximilian's near kinsman. Hermann of Hesse, the Elector of Cologne, had never been of much personal importance, and was now quite content to float in the royalist tide. The Count Palatine Philip, the chief of the secular opposition since his reconciliation with Berthold, had suffered so severely during the Landshut Succession War that he dared no longer raise his voice against the King. The young Elector Joachim of Brandenburg, who had succeeded to his dignity in 1499, was eager to put his sword at the service of Maximilian. Of the old heroes of the constitutional struggle only Frederick the Wise of Saxony remained, and without Berthold's stimulus Frederick was too passive, too discreet, and too wanting in strenuousness to take the lead. Yet his pleading for the disgraced Elector Palatine, unsuccessful as it was, was the only sign of opposition raised from among the Electors in this Diet. Even more devoted to the Crown were the princes who had won their spurs in the Bavarian War, and the prelates who owed their election to Court influence. Well might the Venetian ambassador report to his Republic, that his imperial Majesty had become a true Emperor over his Empire.

Encouraged by the prospect of the unwonted support of his Estates, Maximilian took a real initiative in the question of imperial reform. In a speech in which he could not conceal his bitter hatred of the dead Elector of Mainz, he urged the establishment of a new Council of Regency, dependent upon the Crown, resident at the imperial Court, and limited to giving the King advice and acting under his direction. But the Diet had had enough of new-fangled reforms. "Let his Majesty," said the Estates, "rule in the future as he has ruled in the