Youth of the Great Elector - George Upton

The Restitutions Edict

"My Prince," the Preceptor began, "there was a brief time of peace in Germany. The Count von Mansfeld and Duke Christian of Brunswick were dead; your uncle, Prince of the Palatinate, and both the Dukes of Mecklenburg were driven out of the country, and the Danish King had been compelled to make peace. It was confidently expected that the Army of the League, led by Tilly, would be withdrawn to Bavaria and that of Wallenstein into the imperial dominions, and then there would be peace everywhere in Germany, which was bleeding from a thousand wounds and needed peace for its own recuperation. But the Emperor Ferdinand prevented it. The Jesuits told him, 'Now or never is the time to crush out the Reformation. Use it.'

"Ferdinand was only too willing to obey his spiritual masters. He signed a document called 'The Restitutions Edict.' I will give you only its principal provisions. All the sees and ecclesiastical property appropriated since the treaty of Passau (1525), shall be restored to the Catholics. Every Catholic prince shall have the right to demand of his subjects that they embrace his faith, and those who refuse or hesitate shall be outlawed. As soon as the edict was promulgated the Jesuits and Capuchins appeared in swarms to regain possession of the promised property, and the Emperor's soldiers accompanied them on pillaging expeditions. Augsburg gave up six monasteries and was forced to recognize the bishop. It was the same in Wurzburg. The excitement in the Protestant parts of middle and south Germany was almost indescribable. Lichtenstein's dragoons looted Silesia. Brandenburg also yielded its right to an archbishopric and gave up its four sees. Matters with us, however, did not reach so serious a pass, for two good reasons. Ferdinand wished to establish his son firmly in the succession and needed the votes of the Electors, as well as that of your gracious father. For this reason he delayed the enforcement of the edict. But there was a still stronger reason. A hero, the 'Star of the North,' was giving him great anxiety. Whom did that name mean? Whom else than the knightly King, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden? In the war with Poland he had shown all the qualities that go to make a hero. The six years' armistice with that country was accomplished, and it was now expected he would have something to say about affairs in Germany."

There was some desultory talk about Gustavus Adolphus and his appearance in Germany, after which Leuchtmar said: "The two Catholic generals, Wallenstein and Tilly, now had to meet a different enemy from Christian of Denmark. He had won his spurs when seventeen years of age, in an expedition against that King. It is now time, however, to bring our talk to a close, and I will mention only one incident in his career. In the Polish war it happened upon one occasion that his courage outran his prudence, and he suddenly found himself surrounded by his enemies. Death or capture seemed the only alternative, and he decided to die fighting. Right and left his foes fell before his stout blows. At the critical moment a Swedish cavalryman supported by his comrades rescued the King at the risk of their own lives. Not long afterwards the King found his rescuer a captive. He dashed into the crowd and freed him in turn. 'Brother comrade,' he called out, 'now we are even with each other.' My Prince, how do you like your cousin?"

The Prince made no reply in words but his eyes spoke what he thought. The old Preceptor's eyes flashed also when he arose, Bible in hand, and said: "Yes, yes, he is coming! the 'Hero of the North'—the 'Lion of the Northland,' as he is variously called. He will be our David, and the Lord will give him strength to vanquish his enemies. Now let us reverently read the Twenty-seventh Psalm, which begins with these words: 'The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?'"