Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/355

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imperial grants continued, this method alone was employed. But grave difficulties arose as to the quotas to be contributed by the various States. One of the chief among these related to princes, who were tenants-in-chief for some part of their territories, while they held the rest mediately of some other vassal of the Empire. None of these problems was settled during Maximilian's life.

The chief interest of German history shifts for the next few years more and more to questions of foreign policy. Maximilian's War with Venice, his share in the League of Cambray and the renewal of hostilities with France, which followed the dissolution of that combination and the establishment of the Holy League, absorbed his energies and exhausted his resources. Very little success attended his restless and shifting policy. He did not even obtain the imperial Crown for which he sought. Unable to wait patiently until the road to Rome was open to him, Max took on February 4, 1508, a step of some constitutional importance. He issued a proclamation from Trent, where he then was, declaring that henceforward he would use the title of Roman Emperor Elect, until such time as he received the Crown in Rome. Julius II, anxious to win his support, formally authorised the adoption of this designation. For the next few years the Venetian War blocked his access to Rome, and later he made no effort to go there. He was now universally addressed as Emperor; and the time had passed when the form of papal coronation could be expected to work miracles. Maximilian's assumption of the imperial title without coronation served as a precedent to all his successors. Henceforward the Elect of the seven Electors was at once styled Roman Emperor in common phrase, Roman Emperor Elect in formal documents. During the three centuries through which the Empire was still to endure, Maximilian's grandson and successor was the only Emperor who took the trouble to receive his Crown from the Pope. As time went on, the very meaning of the phrase "Emperor Elect" became obscure, and was occasionally thought to point to the elective nature of the dignity rather than to the incomplete status of its uncrowned holder.

During these years of trouble in Italy, Maximilian was constantly demanding men and money from the German Estates and was involved in perpetual bickering with the numerous Diets which received his propositions coldly. The royal influence, which had become so great after 1504, broke down as hopelessly as had the authority of the Estates. The conditions of the earlier part of the reign were renewed when the Emperor's financial necessities once more led him to make serious proposals of constitutional reform. The most important of them was the scheme which in March, 1510, Maximilian laid before a well-attended Diet at Augsburg. As usual the Emperor wished for a permanent imperial army, and long experience had convinced him that this could only be obtained by great concessions on his part. He now suggested that