The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 03 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 544 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 03.
of his future kingdom.  His ill-disguised attempts upon the Electorate of Mentz, which he first intended to bestow upon the Elector of Brandenburg, as the dower of his daughter Christina, and afterward destined for his chancellor and friend Oxenstiern, evinced plainly what liberties he was disposed to take with the constitution of the empire.  His allies, the Protestant princes, had claims on his gratitude, which could be satisfied only at the expense of their Roman Catholic neighbors, and particularly of the immediate Ecclesiastical Chapters; and it seems probable a plan was early formed for dividing the conquered provinces (after the precedent of the barbarian hordes who overran the German empire) as a common spoil, among the German and Swedish confederates.  In his treatment of the Elector Palatine, he entirely belied the magnanimity of the hero, and forgot the sacred character of a protector.  The Palatinate was in his hands, and the obligations both of justice and honor demanded its full and immediate restoration to the legitimate sovereign.  But, by a subtlety unworthy of a great mind, and disgraceful to the honorable title of protector of the oppressed, he eluded that obligation.  He treated the Palatinate as a conquest wrested from the enemy, and thought that this circumstance gave him a right to deal with it as he pleased.  He surrendered it to the Elector as a favor, not as a debt; and that, too, as a Swedish fief, fettered by conditions which diminished half its value, and degraded this unfortunate prince into a humble vassal of Sweden.  One of these conditions obliged the Elector, after the conclusion of the war, to furnish, along with the other princes, his contribution toward the maintenance of the Swedish army, a condition which plainly indicates the fate which, in the event of the ultimate success of the king, awaited Germany.  His sudden disappearance secured the liberties of Germany and saved his reputation, while it probably spared him the mortification of seeing his own allies in arms against him and all the fruits of his victories torn from him by a disadvantageous peace.  Saxony was already disposed to abandon him, Denmark viewed his success with alarm and jealousy; and even France, the firmest and most potent of his allies, terrified at the rapid growth of his power and the imperious tone which he assumed, looked around for foreign alliances at the very moment he passed the Lech in order to check the progress of the Goths and restore to Europe the balance of power.

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[Footnote 59:  Permission The Macmillan Co., New York, and G. Bell & Sons, Ltd., London.]

[Footnote 60:  Priests’ plunder; alluding to the means by which the expense of its erection had been defrayed.]

[Footnote 61:  A ton of gold in Sweden amounts to 100,000 rix dollars.]

[Footnote 62:  Gefreyter, a person exempt from watching duty, nearly corresponding to the corporal.]

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 03 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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