Images de page
PDF
ePub

of large sums of money. It hap- | bishops, who had not expectai to pened, indeed, that several persons be insultai by their own cuntry. who had thus compounded with men, were seized and tresiri as the Spaniards, were pillaged by harshly as the rest. the Germans, or were obliged also Everywhere might be seen perto buy them off with more money. sons being tormented with the The Marchioness of Mantua paid utmost barbarity, to extört monry fifty thousand ducats to guarantee from them, or to make them dis her mansion against the greed of close where their property was the soldiery ; this sum was fur- hid. All the objects of devotin nished to her by the merchants and the relies with which the who had taken refuge with her, churches were filled, were trodden and the story was that her son, under foot, after having been des Don Ferdinand, had the fifth part spoiled of their ornaments ; and to of it. The Cardinal de Sienne, these acts of sacrileze the German always, like his ancestors, a friend barbarity added blasjuhemies and to the emperor, was made prisoner outrages beyond number. What by the Germans, who also sacked was of least value, and what the his palace, though the cardinal had soldiers had not thought it worth arranged with the Spaniards to be while to touch, was pillazed by the spared this misfortune ; bare head-peasants from the estates of the ed and loaded with blows, they Colonnas who came to Rome when conducted him to the Borgo, and all was over. Cardinal Colonna, he only got out of their hands by who arrived the day after the giving them five thousand ducats. taking of the city, rescued several The Cardinals de la Minerve and ladies who had sought refuge in Ponant suffered almost the same his palace. It was said that the treatment. They paid their ran- booty of the soldiers, in gold and som to the Germans, but that did silver and precious stones, was not prevent them from being both worth more than a million of led ignominiously through the ducats, and that the amount of town by these madmen. The the ransoms went far beyond this Spanish and German cardinals and sum.

THE ANABAPTISTS OF GERMANY.

(Robertson.)

A.D. 1525.

Soon after Luther's

appearance, errors were entirely rooted out. the rashness or ignorance of some But in the Netherlands and Westof his disciples led them to pub- phalia, where the pernicious tendlish tenets no less absurd than ency of their opinions was more pernicious, which being proposed unknown, and guarded against to men extremely illiterate, but with less care, they got admittance fond of novelty, and at a time into several towns, and spread the when their minds were occupied infection of their principles. The chiefly with religious speculations, most remarkable of their religious gained too easy credit and author- tenets related to the sacrament of ity among them. To these causes baptism, which, as they contended, must be imputed the extravagances ought to be administered only to of Muncer, in the year 1525, as persons grown up to years of unwell as the rapid progress which derstanding, and should be perhis opinions made among the formed not by sprinkling them peasants ; but though the insur- | with water, but by dipping them rection excited by that fanatic was in it: for this reason they consoon suppressed, several of his demned the baptism of infants ; followers lurked in different places, and rebaptizing all whom they adand endeavoured privately to pro- mitted into their society, the sect pagate his opinions.

came to be distinguished by the In those provinces of Upper name of Anabaptists. To this Germany which had already been peculiar notion concerning bapso cruelly wasted by their enthusi- tism, which has the appearance of astic

rage, the magistrates watched | being founded on the practice of their motions with such severe at the Church in the apostolic age, tention, that many of them found and contains nothing inconsistent it necessary to retire into other with the peace and order of human countries ; some were punished, society, they added other principles others driven into exile, and their of a most enthusiastic as well as

dangerous nature. They main- | spiration, and a confident and tained that, among Christians who plausible manner of discoursinghad the precepts of the gospel to they soon gained many converts. direct, and the spirit of God to Among these were Rothman, who guide them, the office of magis- had first preached the protestant tracy was not only unnecessary, doctrine in Munster, and Cnipperbut an unlawful encroachment on doling, a citizen of good birth and their spiritual liberty ; that the considerable eminence. Imbolddistinctions occasioned by birth, or ened by the countenance of such rank, or wealth, being contrary to disciples, they openly taught their the spirit of the gospel, which con- opinions ; and not satisfied with siders all men as equal, should be that liberty, they made several entirely abolished ; that all Chris- attempts, though without success, tians, throwing their possessions to become masters of the town, in into one common stock, should live order to get their tenets estabtogether in that state of equality lished by public authority. At which becomes members of the last, having secretly called in same family ; that as neither the their associates from the neighlaws of nature, nor the precepts of bouring country, they suddenly the New Testament, had imposed took possession of the arsenal and any restraints upon men with re- senate-house in the night-time, gard to the number of wives which and running through the streets they might marry, they should with drawn swords, and horrible use that liberty which God him- howlings, cried out alternately, self had granted to the patriarchs. “Repent, and be baptized ;" and Such opinions, propagated and “Depart, ye ungodly." The sena

, maintained with enthusiastic zealtors, the canons, the nobility, and boldness, were not long with together with the more sober citiout producing the violent effects zens, whether papists or pro natural to them. Two anabaptist testants, terrified at their threats prophets, John Matthias, a baker and outcries, fled in confusion, and of Haerlem, and John Boccold, or left the city under the dominion Beükels, a journeyman tailor of of a frantic multitude, consisting Leyden, possessed with the rage chiefly of strangers. Nothing now of making proselytes, fixed their remaining to overawe or control residence at Munster, an imperial them, they set about modelling the city in Westphalia, of the first government according to their own rank, under the sovereignty of its wild ideas; and though at first bishop, but governed by its own they showed so much reverence senate and consuls. As neither of for the ancient constitution, as to these fanatics wanted the talents re- elect senators of their own sect, quisite in desperate enterprises-- and to appoint Cnipperdoling and great resolution, the appearance of another proselyte consuls, this was sanctity, bold pretensions to in- | nothing more than form ; for all their proceedings were directed by baptists in the Low Countries, inMatthias, who, in the style and viting them to assemble at Munwith the authority of a prophet, ster, which he dignified with the uttered his commands, which it name of Mount Sion, that from was instant death to disobey. thence they might set out to reHaving begun with encouraging duce all the nations of the earthi the multitude to pillage the under their dominion. He himchurches and deface their orna- self was unwearied in attending ments, he enjoined them to de- to everything necessary for the stroy all books except the Bible, security or increase of the sect; as useless or impious ; he ordered animating his disciples by his own the estates of such as fled to be example to decline no labour, as confiscated, and sold to the in- well as to submit to every hardhabitants of the adjacent country ; ship ; and their enthusiastic pashe commanded every man to bring sions being kept from subsiding forth his gold, silver, and other by a perpetual succession of exprecious effects, and to lay them hortations, revelations, and proat his feet : the wealth amassed phecies, they seemed ready to by these means he deposited in a undertake or to suffer anything public treasury, and named deacons in maintenance of their opinions. . to dispense it for the common use While they were thus employed, of all. The members of this com- the Bishop of Munster, having monwealth being thus brought to assembled a considerable army, a perfect equality, he commanded advanced to besiege the town. On all of them to eat at tables pre- his approach, Matthias sallied out pared in public, and even pre- at the head of some chosen troops, scribed the dishes which were to attacked one quarter of his camp, be served up each day. Having forced it, and after great slaughter finished his plan of reformation, returned to the city loaded with his next care was to provide for glory and spoil. Intoxicated with the defence of the city; and he this success, he appeared next day took measures for that purpose brandishing a spear, and declared with a prudence which savoured that, in imitation of Gideon, he nothing of fanaticism. He col- would go forth with a handful of lected large magazines of every men and smite the host of the unkind; he repaired and extended godly. Thirty persons, whom he the fortifications, obliging every named, followed him without hesiperson without distinction to work tation in this wild enterprise, and, in his turn; he formed such as rushing on the enemy with a were capable of bearing arms into frantic courage, were cut off to a regular bodies, and endeavoured The death of their prophet to add the stability of discipline occasioned at first great consternato the impetuosity of enthusiasm. tion among his disciples; but He sent emissaries to the Ana- | Boccold, by the same gifts and

man,

a

pretensions which had gained | ing, but with the utmost joy ; Matthias credit, soon revived their and such was the despotic rigour spirits and hopes to such a degree, of Boccold's administration, that that he succeeded the deceased he was called almost every day to prophet in the same absolute perform some duty or other of his direction of all their affairs. As wretched function. In place of he did not possess that enterpris- the deposed senators, he named ing courage which distinguished twelve judges, according to the his predecessor, he satisfied him- number of tribes in Israel, to preself with carrying on a defensive side in all affairs ; retaining to war; and, without attempting to himself the same authority which annoy the enemy by sallies, he Moses anciently possessed as legiswaited for the succours he expected | lator of that people. from the Low Countries, the Not satisfied, however, with arrival of which was often fore-power or titles which were not told and promised by their pro- supreme, a prophet, whom he had phets. But though less daring in gained and tutored, having called action than Matthias, he was the multitude together, declared wilder enthusiast, and of more it to be the will of God that John unbounded ambition. Soon after Boccold should be king of Sion, the death of his predecessor, and sit on the throne of David. having, by obscure visions and John, kneeling down, accepted of prophecies, prepared the multitude the heavenly call,' which he for some extraordinary event, he solemnly protested had been stripped himself naked, and revealed likewise to himself, and marching through the streets, pro- was immediately acknowledged as claimed with a loud voice, “ that monarch by the deluded multithe kingdom of Sion was at hand ; tude. From that moment he that whatever was highest on assumed all the state and pomp earth should be brought low, and of royalty. He wore a crown of whatever was lowest should be gold, and was clad in the richest exalted.” In order to fulfil this, and most sumptuous garments. he commanded the churches, as A Bible was carried on his one the most lofty buildings in the hand, a naked sword on the other. city, to be levelled with the A great body of guards accomground; he degraded the senators panied him when he appeared in chosen by Matthias, and depriving public. He coined money stamped Cnipperdoling of the consulship, with his own image, and appointed the highest office in the common the great officers of his household wealth, appointed him to execute and kingdom, among whom Cnipthe lowest and most infamous, perdoling was nominated governor that of common hangman, to of the city as a reward for his which strange transition the other former submission. agreed, not only without murmur- Having now attained the height

« PrécédentContinuer »