The shortsightedness with which the Protestants permitted the Emperor to remain so long in Ratisbon unmolested, and gather troops and munitions of war, Gombert had heard termed actually incomprehensible.
The travellers might expect to find a large force in Landshut, among the rest ten thousand Italians and eight thousand Spaniards. This, the musician explained to his companion, was contrary to the condition of his Majesty’s election, which prohibited his bringing foreign soldiers into Germany; but war was a mighty enterprise, which broke even Firmer contracts.
A bitter remark about the man who, even in peace, scorned fidelity and faith, rose to Barbara’s lips; but as she knew the warm enthusiasm which Gombert cherished for his imperial master, she controlled herself, and continued to listen while he spoke of the large re-enforcements which Count Buren was leading from the Netherlands.
A long and cruel war might be expected, for, though his Majesty assumed that religion had nothing to do with it, the saying went—here Catholics, here Protestants. The Pope gave his blessing to those who joined Charles’s banner, and wherever people had deserted the Church they said that they were taking the field for the pure religion against the unchristian Council and the Romish antichrist.
“But it really can not be a war in behalf of our holy faith,” Barbara here eagerly interposed, “for the Duke of Saxony is our ally, and Oh, just look! we must pass there directly.”
She pointed as she spoke to a peasant cart just in front of them, whose occupants had been hidden until now by the dust of the road. They were two Protestant clergymen in the easily recognised official costume of their faith—a long, black robe and a white ruff around the neck.
Gombert, too, now looked in surprise at the ecclesiastical gentlemen, and called the commander of the four members of the city guard who escorted his carriage.
The troops marching beside them were the soldiers of the Protestant Margrave Hans von Kustrin who, in spite of his faith, had joined the Emperor, his secular lord, who asserted that he was waging no religious war. The clergymen were the field chaplains of the Protestant bands.
When the travellers had passed the long baggage train, in which women and children filled peasant carts or trudged on foot, and reached the soldiers themselves, they found them well-armed men of sturdy figure.
The Neapolitan regiment, which preceded the Kustrin one, presented an entirely different appearance with its shorter, brown-skinned, light-footed soldiers. Here, too, there was no lack of soldiers’ wives and children, and from two of the carts gaily bedizened soldiers’ sweethearts waved their hands to the travellers. In front of the regiment were two wagons with racks, filled with priests and monks bearing crosses and church banners, and before them, to escape the dust, a priest of higher rank with his vicar rode on mules decked with gay trappings.