Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/363

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mountains that he loved, the most glorious monument of the German Renaissance worthily enshrines the prince, who, with all his faults and failures, had no small share in bringing his country into the full blaze of modern light.

Was any real progress achieved by Germany during the reign of Maximilian? The failure both of the Emperor and of the Estates is painfully obvious; yet so much strenuous activity, so much preaching of new political doctrine could not pass away without leaving its mark in history. Very few actual results were at the moment obtained; but the ideal was at least set up, which later generations were able in some slight measure to realise. The policy of imperial reform seemed to have hopelessly broken down; but it was something gained that the Landfriede had been proclaimed, the constitution and powers of the Diet settled, and the Kammergericht established. The next generation took up and made permanent some of the measures which during Maximilian's lifetime had been utterly abandoned. The division of the Empire into ten Circles was actually carried out. The Aulic Council became the rival of the imperial Chamber. Even the Council of Regency was for a short time revived. In the worst days of disunion these institutions remained, the decrepit survivals of the age of abortive reformation, which with all their feebleness at least faintly embodied the great idea of national union that had originally inspired them. And if all these institutions-such as they were-made for order and progress, the peace and well-being of Germany were much more powerfully secured by the strengthening of the territorial sovereignties which accompanied the reaction from the reformers'" policy. The example set by Maximilian in unifying and ordering the government of the Austrian dominions was faithfully followed by his vassals, both great and small. The stronger princes become civilised rulers of modern States. The lesser princes at least abandon their ancient policy of warfare and robbery. The improved condition of Germany displays itself most clearly in the extraordinary development of the towns, which Maximilian had himself helped to foster. Thus the population of Nürnberg seems to have doubled during the sixteenth century; while the growth of material comfort, and of a high standard of living, were as marked as was the undoubted advance in spiritual and intellectual interests, in art and in letters. But most important of all was the great fact that the national idea had survived all the many failures of the attempts made to realise it. Nowhere was its force felt more strongly than in Elsass and along the Rhine, where a genuine though mainly literary enthusiasm responded to Maximilian's efforts at keeping a watch over the national borderlands. And if the age of the collapse of the German State was simultaneously the period of the revival of national scholarship, historical learning, literature, art, and language, it was the national idea that gave unity of direction and aim to the German Renaissance, and inspired all that was best in German Protestantism. To this national