Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/726

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this demonstration that led, in 1480, to the negotiation of an agreement between Sixtus IV and the Emperor Frederick, in which the latter was pledged to keep Germany obedient to the Pope, while the Pope was to sustain the Emperor with the free use of censures. This meant encouragement to fresh aggressions; and the indignation of the clergy found expression in the grievances presented, in 1510, to the Emperor-Elect Maximilian. They asserted with scant ceremony that the papacy could be restrained by no agreements or conventions, seeing that it granted, for the benefit of the vilest persons, dispensations, suspensions, revocations, and other devices for nullifying its promises and evading its wholesome regulations; the elections of prelates were set aside; the right of choosing provosts, which many Chapters had purchased with heavy payments, was disregarded; the greater benefices and dignities were bestowed on the Cardinals and Prothonotaries of the Curia; expectatives were granted without number, giving rise to ruinous litigation; annates were exacted promptly and mercilessly and sometimes more was extorted than was due; the cure of souls was committed by Rome to those fitted rather to take charge of mules than of men; in order to raise money, new indulgences were issued, with suspension of the old, the laity being thus made to murmur against the clergy; tithes were exacted under the pretext of war against the Turks, yet no expeditions were sent forth; and cases which should be tried at home were carried without distinction to Rome. Maximilian was seriously considering a plan for releasing Germany from the yoke of the Curia, and for preventing the transfer to Rome of the large sums which Julius II was employing to his special detriment; he thought of the withdrawal of the annates and of the appointment of a permanent legate, who should be a German and exercise a general jurisdiction. But Jacob Wimpheling, who was consulted by the Emperor-Elect, while expressing himself vigorously as to the suffering of Germany from the Curia, thought it wiser to endure in the hope of amendment than to risk a schism. Amendment, however, in obedience to any internal impulse, was out of the question. The Lateran Council met, deliberated, and dissolved without offering to the most sanguine the slightest rational expectation of relief. The only resource lay in revolution, and Germany was ready for the signal. In 1521 the Nuncio Aleander writes that, five years before he had mentioned to Pope Leo his dread of a German uprising, he had heard from many Germans that they were only waiting for some fool to open his mouth against Rome.

If Germany was thus the predestined scene of the outbreak, it was also the land in which the chances of success were the greatest. The very political condition which baffled all attempts at self-protection likewise barred the way to the suppression of the movement. A single prince, like the Elector Frederick of Saxony, could protect it in its infancy. As the revolt made progress other princes could join it,