Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/358

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hope of furthering his grandson's election as his successor, he relieved Sickingen from the ban which had been pronounced against him. The aggrieved Estates refused in their turn their help against the disobedient Ulrich. New troubles now arose to complicate the situation. The early triumphs of Francis I deprived Maximilian of his last hopes of acquiring influence or territory in Italy. After Marignano his military impotence was clearly demonstrated to all the world, while his shifty and tortuous diplomacy became a bye-word for incompetence. Since 1517 ecclesiastical troubles had assumed an acute shape by the crusade of Martin Luther against papal Indulgences. But the old Emperor still calmly pursued his way, finding amusement with his literary and artistic schemes, and occupying himself more solidly in preparing the way for the world-Empire of his grandson Charles, and in setting the administration of the Austrian hereditary lands on a more satisfactory basis. He was still as full of dreams as ever and talked so late as 1518 of leading a crusade against the Infidel. But the contrast between his projects and achievements was never more strikingly brought out than in the last months of his life. The great schemes of the Diet of Innsbruck were in no wise carried out. The imperial coffers were so empty that Maximilian could not pay the tavern bills of his courtiers. Bitterly vexed at the indignities to which his poverty exposed him, he left Tyrol and travelled down the Inn and Danube to Wels. There, prostrated by a long-threatened illness, he breathed his last on Jaliuary 19, 1519.

A review of the political history of Germany brings out Maximilian's character almost at its weakest. Yet the impression derived from his calamitous European wars, his ineffective negotiations, and his pitiable shifts for raising money is even more unfavourable. Nevertheless the unsuccessful ruler was a man of rare gifts and many accomplishments. "He was," says a Venetian, "not very fair of face, but well proportioned, exceedingly robust, of sanguine and choleric complexion, and very healthy for his age." His clear-cut features, his penetrating glance, his dignified yet affable manner, marked him as a man of no ordinary stamp. He lived simply and elegantly, loving good cheer and delicate meats, but always showing the utmost moderation, and being entirely free from the hard drinking habits of most of the German rulers of his time. He was the bravest and most adventurous of men, risking his life as freely in the rough chase of the chamois among the mountains of Tyrol as in the tiltyard or on the field of battle. He was an admirable huntsman, and a consummate master of all knightly exercises. Good-humoured, easy-going, and tolerant, he possessed in full measure the hereditary gift of his house for combining kingly dignity with a genial kindliness that took all hearts by storm. He was equally at home with prince, citizen, and peasant. He had so little gall in his composition that, save Berthold of Mainz, he had hardly ever made a personal enemy. Frederick of Saxony eulogised him as the politest of men, and the