Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/360

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masters. Like Wolsey, Lang was accused of arrogance and venality, and became exceedingly unpopular. A like fate befel Maximilian's minor ministers, the Tyrolese Serntein and Lichtenstein, and the Augsburger Gossembrot, head of the Tyrolese financial administration. Public opinion regarded them as corrupt and greedy and as ill-advisers of the popular Emperor. "His counsellors were rich," said a contemporary, "and he was poor. He who desired anything of the Emperor took a present to his Council and got what he wanted. And when the other party came, the Council still took his money and gave him letters contrary to those issued previously. All these things the Emperor allowed." The removal of Maximilian's counsellors was one of the conditions imposed on Charles V before his election. Nor was their lot an easy one during the life of their lord. They often had a very hard task in finding out what the wishes of their fickle and inconstant master really were, and they were sometimes quite at a loss as to the direction of the policy which they were expected to carry out. Yet the Emperor was ever ready to trim the sails of his statecraft to suit any passing wind of casual counsel. As Machiavelli said of him, he took advice of nobody and yet believed everybody, and was in consequence badly served. His mind was always running over with fresh ideas and impulses, which, when half carried out, were displaced by other whims of the moment. What he said at night he repudiated in the morning. No promises could bind him; not even self-interest could keep him straight in a single course for any length of time. True child of the Renaissance as he was, his emotional, sensitive, superficial, susceptible, and capricious nature stood in the strongest contrast to the pursuit of statecraft for its own sake by the politic and self-seeking princes of Italy, who used the giddy and volatile Caesar as an easy tool of their purposes. Yet few of the most ruthless of Italians had occasion to stoop to greater meanness, more wanton lying, and more barefaced deceit, than this model of honour and chivalry. And Maximilian's wiles were easily seen through and seldom effected their object. Too open-minded to hold strongly to his opinions, too versatile and universal in his tastes to deal with any subject thoroughly, he remained to the end of his life a gifted amateur in politics. He was at his best when strong personal interest gave free scope to his individuality.

As a general Maximilian was scarcely more successful than he was as a statesman. But as a military organiser he did much to further the revolution in the art of war that attended the growth of the modern system of States. He improved the weapons and equipment of his cavalry, though the lightly armoured horsemen of the Empire never seem in his days to have been able to hold their own against the heavier cavalry of France and Italy. More famous by far was the rehabilitation of German infantry, which owed so much to his personal impulse. In his early Burgundian Wars, he began the reorganisation of the German foot-soldier,