Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/374

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inasmuch as she was able to repel her foreign enemy only by the aid of her domestic oppressor, Austria, and of Austria's allies. Cannae steeled Rome, and Hastings made England an organic part of Europe; Mohacs buried the greater part of Hungary for more than nine generations.

Passing now to events in Bohemia, we find them full of similar perturbations. Here, since 1476, the Vladyks were involved in interminable struggles with the towns. The common people, especially the German settlers, had suffered exceedingly at the hands of the Hussites who, by impoverishing or massacring the industrial population of their own country, paved the way for an uncontrolled oligarchy. Of these class-wars, the cruel, not to say inhuman, campaign waged by the Vladyk Kopidlansky of Kopidlno against the city of Prague, from 1507 onwards, is perhaps the most remarkable. It was not until October 24, 1517, that the higher gentry and the towns arrived at an arrangement in the so-called Treaty of St Venceslas. The leading politicians and generals of those internecine troubles were John Pashek of Wrat, William of Pernstein, Zdenko Lew of Rozmital, and Peter of Rosen-berg. After 1520 the old religious dissensions, now intensified by the introduction of Luther's ideas, were resuscitated. The Kings, Wladislav and Louis, were quite unable, and it is doubtful whether they were willing, to stem the tide of internal strife. At any rate, they appear to have counted for nothing, and Bohemia as well as Moravia was practically handed over to a very limited number of aristocrats, uncontrolled either by the small gentry, as was the case in contemporary Hungary, or by the towns or peasants. Even without a battle of Mohacs Bohemia had reached the stage when any bold and able foreign prince might very well hope to possess himself of a country important alike by its situation and its resources. The Habsburgs were not slow to see and appreciate their opportunity.

The political and moral gloom weighing upon Hungary and Bohemia during the reign of the Jagello Kings is undeniable. At the same time it is easy to exaggerate its consequences. The historians of both countries, and more especially the Magyar authors writing on the reigns of Wladislav II and Louis II, seem at a loss for sufficient terms of reproach and recrimination with which to assail the Hungarians of this period; and they agree in tracing its catastrophe entirely to the moral and unpatriotic shortcomings of the Zapolyais and their contemporaries. Yet these authorities abound in statements implying high-spirited actions of good and great men, and serious and well-meant efforts for the preservation of the country. It is precisely in dark periods such as this that an advance in statesmanship and earnest patriotism is apt to make itself manifest. Any age of Hungarian