Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/357

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and Habsburg territories which had been excluded from the earlier arrangement. A seventh Circle, that of the Lower Rhine, was to comprise the dominions of the fonr Rhenish Electors. An eighth Circle of Upper Saxony took in the lands of the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg, together with those of the Dukes of Pomerania and some other minor Powers transferred from the original Saxon Circle. Archbishop Berthold's greatest wish was realised in the proposal to include Max's hereditary dominions in the ninth and tenth Circles of Austria and Burgundy. Thus every large tract of imperial territory became part of a Circle, save only the foreign kingdom of the Cechs. Definite names were given to the older Circles, and in each Circle a Captain appointed by it was empowered to carry out with the help of a force of cavalry the decisions of the imperial Chamber. The Estates however took alarm at the proposal to put the Captains of the Circles at the head of an armed force; and the result was that the division of the Empire into ten Circles never came into working order until after Maximilian's death, and even then certain small districts were left outside the system.

The Diet of 1512 was practically the last of the reforming Diets. The chief interest in the immediately succeeding period centred round the renewal of the Swabian League. This confederacy had for a generation powerfully contributed towards the peace and welfare of South Germany. It had extended its limits, until it included not only the Estates of Swabia, but Rhenish and Franconian magnates such as the Elector Palatine, the Elector of Mainz, and the Bishop of Würzburg. But it comprehended within it very diversified elements, and the lesser Estates looked with jealousy upon the increasing influence of the greater princes upon its policy. Conspicuous among these magnates was Ulrich, the turbulent and unruly young Duke of Wurtemberg. The split declared itself when the princes refused to take a share even in paying the cost of the destruction of the robber-nest of Hohenkrahen in the Hegau, which the League, inspired by the Emperor, now captured after a short siege. Accordingly when the League was renewed for ten years in October, 1512, the Duke of Wurtemberg with his allies, the Elector Palatine, the Bishop of Wurzburg, and the Margrave of Baden, were excluded from it. The excluded princes promptly set up a counter-league, which in 1515 received the adhesion of Frederick the Wise of Saxony. Thus the element of disunion, which had prevented any organised combination of the Empire as a whole, now also threatened to destroy the most successful of the local unions of parts of the Empire. In the midst of this confusion, the last Diets of Maximilian's reign were even more incompetent than their predecessors. The characteristic features of these years were the war of Franz von Sickingen against Worms and the feud between Ulrich of Wurtemberg and the Swabian League. The Emperor was now conscious of his impending end. In the