« PreviousContinue »
cenaries into his service, and regaining his duchy, Louis also turned to them for aid, and, strengthened by a body of 10,000 of these troops, shut up Sforza in Novara. The Swiss, however, refusing to fight against each other, Sforza's mercenaries were permitted to march unmolested out of the city. The duke, disguised as one of the number, quitted the place with them, but was sold by a man of Uri, named Turmann, to the French monarch, who sent him prisoner to France. Maximilian beheld the successes of the French monarch in Italy . . . . with impotent rage, and convoked one diet after another, without being able to raise either money or troops. At length, in the hope of saving his honour, he invested France with the duchy of his brother-in-law Sforza, and by the treaty of Blois (A.D. 1504) ceded Milan to France for the sum of 200,000 francs. The marriage of Charles, Maximilian's son, with Claudia, the daughter of Louis, who it was stipulated should bring Milan in dowry to the house of Hapsburg, also formed one of the articles of this treaty; and in the event of any impediment to the marriage being raised by France, Milan was to be unconditionally restored to the house of Austria."* This treaty was broken, "and Claudia was married to Francis of Anjou, the heir-apparent of the throne of France." Dr. Strauss does not take these circumstances into account when he represents Maximilian's Italian expedition of 1508 as one of mere ceremony, as a reminiscence of the old glories of the empire. "Maximilian," he says, "in whose lofty but inconstant spirit the old idea of the Roman empire of the German nation once more flickered up, had determined, in conformity with ancient custom (nach alter Sitte), to make an armed march to Rome for the purpose of being there crowned as Cæsar; but the Venetians forbade him passage through their territory."+ It is not quite correct to say that the Emperor was refused free passage through the Venetian territory; on the contrary, this was expressly promised him, together with safe and honourable escort to Rome, if only he would leave his army on the German side of the Venetian frontier. But Maximilian's eye was fixed on Milan more than on Rome. The Venetians knew this; and, as the allies of France, were bound to refuse admittance to an expedition directed against the possessions of the latter power. The Emperor attempted to force his way; but, after a few transient successes, was obliged to yield to the superior powers of the republican troops; and a treaty of peace was concluded in June 1508. Louis XII. did not reciprocate the fidelity of the Venetians. He was alarmed by their increasing power; and at his instigation the league of Cambray was formed, in Menzel's History of Germany, Eng. transl., ii. pp. 214-5. † Strauss, i. p. 85.
which the Pope Julius II., Ferdinand of Spain, and Maximilian united with him for the dismemberment and annihilation of the republic. Nothing, of course, could resist the conjoined forces of the confederates. But the jealousy which they had felt of Venice, they soon began to entertain towards each other. The Pope attempted to detach Maximilian from the alliance. The Venetians supplicated for cessation of hostilities. Matters were thus in suspense at the period of Hutten's arrival in Vienna.
Under these circumstances, Hutten could have had no better letter of introduction to the literary circles of the city than the poem which he had composed during the last few days of his journey, in exhortation to Maximilian to continue the war against the Venetians. It was received with rapture by the friends to whom he read it, and published by them after his departure, in January 1512. In it he reminds the Emperor of the former aggressions and insults of the Venetians, and seeks to inflame him at once by the lust of recent successes, and the shame of preceding defeats. They desire peace, he urges, only that they may prepare themselves for war; and therefore peace must be refused them. Together with patriotic hatred, "the ill-will of our poor knight against a republic of opulent merchants finds expression, a feeling of which, even as regarded the free towns of Germany, he was unable his whole life long entirely to rid himself."*
Appended to this poem was another, animated by the same patriotic spirit, in which Hutten aims to prove that the Germans have not declined from their ancient fame (Quod ab illa antiquitus Germanorum claritudine nondum degenerarint nostrates, Ulr. Hutteni Eq. Heroicum). In it he points out as a "historic law," that periods of warlike, and of commercial and literary activity, alternate in the life of nations. The Germans of old had no writers to record the heroic deeds they did; but it is not yet true that the Germans of to-day can only describe the achievements of others, without being able to perform any thing great themselves.†
Hutten left Vienna before the publication of these poems. Of the details of his residence there, we know nothing more than the following amusing passage of the Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum (which Strauss refers to without quoting) tells us. The allusion can be to no other than Hutten, whose peculiarities
This feeling is curiously apparent in the dialogue Prædones, written many years later, in which he undertakes to combat it, and advocates a union of the equestrian and burgher classes against the princes and the church.
† Verstünden nun die jetzigen Deutschen nur, fremde Thaten zu beschreiben, ohne selbst etwas Grosses thun zu können, so wäre das freilich nur die umgekehrte Einseitigkeit. So schlimm jedoch stehe es mit ihnen noch lange nicht." Strauss, i. p. 88.
are good-humouredly depicted, perhaps with a few heightening touches. The humour of the passage is as inseparable from its Latinity as that of "Jeames's Diary" from Mr. Thackeray's peculiar spelling. M. Joannes Krabacius (one of the obscure) is supposed to write thus:
"Semel venit unus socius ex Moravia, quando ego fui Viennæ, qui debet esse Poeta, et scripsit etiam metra, et voluit legere artem metrificandi, et non fuit intitulatus (he wished to lecture on versification without having a degree!). Tunc ipse Magister noster Heckman prohibuit ei, et ipse fuit ita prætensus, quod non voluit curare mandatum ejus. Tunc Rector prohibuit suppositis, quod non deberent visitare ejus lectionem (the Rector forbade the students to attend his lecture). Tunc ille Ribaldus accessit Rectorem, et dixit ei multa superba dicta et tibisavit eum (he said many insolent things to the Rector, and thou'd him). Tunc ipse misit pro famulis civitatis, et voluit eum incarcerare, quia fuit magnum scandalum, quod simplex socius deberet tibisare unum Rectorem Universitatis, qui est Magister noster; et cum hoc ego audio, quod ille socius neque est Baccalaureus, neque Magister, nec est aliquo modo qualificatus seu graduatus, et incessit sicut bellator, vel qui vult ambulare ad bellum, et habuit pileum et longum cultrum in latere. Sed per Deos ipse fuisset incarceratus, si non habuisset notos in civitate."
Defeated in his attempts to support himself as a teacher of polite literature in Vienna, Hutten surrendered at discretion to his father's wishes, and betook himself, in the spring of 1512, to Pavia, to be manufactured into a jurist. Misfortune, however, which was never long off his track, followed him thither. His disease broke out in an aggravated form; and the political and military embroilments in which intrigue had involved Italian affairs involved him also. In his new-born zeal for the Venetians, Julius II. had deposed and excommunicated the Duke of Ferrara, who refused to discontinue his hostilities against the republic. This excommunication extended to his supporters, and therefore included Louis XII. and Maximilian, whom their common injury drew into closer union against the Pope. The necessity of meeting these formidable opponents led to the counter-alliance, known as "the Holy League," between Julius, the Venetians, Ferdinand of Aragon, and Henry VIII. of England. Their great aim was to expel the French from Italy, which they ultimately succeeded in doing. At the time of which we are now speaking, however, the French were still masters of Lombardy, and in possession of Pavia. Their victory at Ravenna (April 11, 1512), purchased by the death of their gallant young commander, Gaston de Foix, was rather a loss to them than a gain. More had been slain on their side than on the enemy's, and their confidence from this time declined, never to be reestablished. The Pope's, on the other hand,
rose, and his measures became, if possible, more vigorous and decisive. Maximilian, not heeding Hutten's Exhortation, made peace with the Venetians a few months only after that admonitory poem was published, and deserted to the papal side. Twenty thousand Swiss mercenaries, at the summons of Julius, appeared in July 1512 before Pavia. As a subject of the Emperor, Hutten was an object of suspicion to the French in the town, "who for three entire days kept him prisoner in a narrow chamber. Suffering at the same time under fever, he gave himself up for lost." In this mood of mind he wrote the mournful epitaph which Strauss has thus rendered into German, and which, with the exception of a single line, might have stood as well at the actual close of his life:
"Der zum Jammer gezeugt, ein unglückseliges Leben
Lebte, von Uebeln zu Land, Uebeln zu Wasser verfolgt:
Er, von Gefahren umringt, wich nicht vom Dienste der Musen,
The city was taken within three days. Hutten was robbed and ill-treated by the victorious party, who considered his presence in Pavia proof of his connection with the French; and with difficulty ransoming himself, he wandered to Bologna.
Enlisting is generally the last resource of desperate men in our time, and it was Hutten's. We know nothing of his warlike exploits. That he did not abandon the pen on taking the sword, his book of Epigrams,* "one of his freshest and most attractive works," remains to prove. "Written at different times and places, the little book follows the changing course of the protracted war, and brings before us, in the liveliest picture, victory and defeat, hope and fear, the gain and loss of towns and countries, the formation and dissolution of alliances." Despising "reasons of state," Hutten strikes indiscriminately at friend and foe,-at the Venetians and the Pope, as well as at the French.
Returning from Italy in 1514, and meeting with a cold reception from his family, who were disappointed that he had no degree to show as the result of his studies, he repaired to Mentz, where, through the intercession of his early friend Eitelwolf von Stein, he obtained favour in the eyes of the new archbishop, Albert Margrave of Brandenburg. Here, too, he formed acquaintance with Erasmus, for whom he professed boundless re
Ulrichi de Hutten Eq. Germani ad Cæsarem Maximilianum Epigrammatum liber unus.
The subsequent relations of these two men, who, with all their mutual admiration, were constitutionally unable to understand each other, became those of bitterest antipathy.
The perpetration of a great crime withdrew Hutten's zeal from matters of state interest, even from the cause of "good letters,” to the relentless exposure and punishment of the criminal. Hans von Hutten, the son of that Ludwig von Hutten who had befriended Ulrich after his flight from Fulda,-had entered the service of the young Ulrich, Duke of Wurtemburg, and gained the affection of his prince, who made him his Master of the Horse. Reasons of state had compelled the Duke to enter into a marriage that was distasteful to him with Sabina, a quarrelsome and repulsive virago, sister of the Duke of Bavaria. But he loved Ursula, the beautiful daughter of Conrad von Thumb, his hereditary marshal. Hans von Hutten, unfortunately, loved this lady too, and married her. The Duke confided his attachment to the young husband. "He fell at the feet of his Master of the Horse, and with outstretched arms, besought him, for God's sake, to allow of his affection for his wife; for he neither could nor would forbear." The matter became known. The Duke felt that he had not only done wrong, but made himself ridiculous; and his hatred of Hans von Hutten was of course implacable. He refused to allow Hans or his wife to depart from court, which was the natural and easiest way of settling the question. He had resolved on another mode of getting rid of his rival. Assuming an appearance of friendliness, he invited him to be his companion on a ride to Boeblingen. Hans came, suspecting nothing, unarmed, except with a small dagger, and but poorly mounted. The Duke was well equipped, and in a coat of mail. The attendants gradually drew off; and the two entered a wood together. Here Hans was set upon and slain; stabbed, it is not impossible, from behind, for of the seven wounds from which he perished, five were in the back. "The Duke added insult to murder. He slung a girdle round the dead man's neck, and fastened it to a dagger, which he thrust up to its hilt in the earth. This was to signify the hanging which the dead man had merited for his villanies." The Duke of Wurtemburg never denied that he had killed Hans von Hutten. He pleaded, now, that the deed was done in a moment of passion; now, that it was done in fair fight; now, that it was a deliberate and judicial execution; and by these conflicting statements confirmed the worst interpretation that could be put upon it.
The whole clan of the Huttens met, and united in demauding vengeance. Ulrich seized his pen, dedicated a funeral poem to his cousin's memory; and a consolatory letter, modelled after the best classical examples, and full rather of humanist than hu