Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/361

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


which soon made the German Landsknecht a terror to all Europe. Turbulent, undisciplined, and greedy, Maximilian's infantry proved admirable fighting material, brave in battle, patient of hardship, and passionately devoted to the King, whom they regarded as their father. For their equipment he discarded the useless and cumbersome shield, and gave them as their chief weapon an ashen lance, some eighteen feet long, though a certain proportion were armed with halberds, and others with firearms that were portable and efficient, at least as compared with earlier weapons of the same sort. The rejection of the heavy armour that still survived from former days made Maximilian's infantry much more mobile than most of the cumbrous armies of the time, while, when they stood in close array, their forest of long spears easily resisted the attacks of cavalry. However disorderly after victory, the Landsknecht preserved admirable discipline in the field. Maximilian's inventive genius was at its best in improving the artillery of his time. However poor he was, he always found the means for casting cannon of every calibre. He invented ingenious ways of making cannon portable, and it was largely through his talents as a practical artillerist that light field-pieces were made as serviceable in pitched battles in the open as heavy pieces of ordnance had long been in the siege of fortified places.

Maximilian played no small part in the intellectual and artistic life of his time. The religious movement which burst out at Wittenberg and Zurich in the last years of his life lay outside his sphere. Though he was wont to discuss theological problems with interest and freedom, he was in his personal life, as in his ecclesiastical policy, orthodox and conservative. Yet this orthodox Emperor discussed the temporal dominion of the Popes as an open question, and argued that the Lenten fast should be divided or mitigated, since the rude German climate made the rigid observance of the laws of the Church dangerous to health. He urged on the Papacy the reformation of the Calendar very much on the lines afterwards adopted by Gregory XIII. He was pious and devout after his fashion, and was specially devoted to the Saints whom he claimed as members of the House of Habsburg. He had also inherited some of his father's love for astrology. More important, however, than these things is the large share taken by him in the spread of the New Learning of the humanists in Germany. He reorganised the University of Vienna, and established there chairs of Roman law, mathematics, poetry, and rhetoric. He fostered the younger Habsburg university at Freiburg in the Breisgau. Under the direction of Conrad Celtes, he set up a college of poets and mathematicians as a centre for liberal studies in Vienna. He called Italian humanists over the Alps to his service. He was the friend of Pirkheimer, Peutinger and Trithemius. He was devoted to music, and his Court-chapel was famous for its singing. In art he was a most magnificent patron of the wood engraver. He had friendly relations with Durer, while Burgkmaier did some of