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reimburse those expenses he has been at in securing his acquisitions, if not to the present generation, at least to posterity.
CHAPTER IV.-OF GERMANY.
Naturally in the course of our design, we proceed to the empire of Germany, which is to be considered in two lights: first, as a country composed of many different states, in their civil government independent one of another, and under sovereigns absolute within themselves : secondly, as these above-mentioned states, forming one great confederacy under a common head, upon which they have a political dependence, though that very supreme power is under control by the constitution of the empire, and the regulations of its own tribunals.
With respect to the first, it is necessary the uninformed reader should be told, that all things relating to the government of the German empire ought to be regulated according to a writing called the Golden Bull. This was prepared by the Emperor Charles IV. in the year 1356, and received the consent of all the states of the empire. It regulates the election of the emperor, his privileges, his vicars, the rights of electors in general, the privilege of each elector in particular, the prerogative of the princes and states, the Diets, and the sentences of the empire. Notwithstanding the strict adherence to this writing in general, these regulations have sometimes been dispensed with ; for though it ordains, that the election of an emperor should be made with the consent of all the electors, yet in 1742, the Emperor Charles VII. was chosen without the suffrage of the elector of Bohemia, who was Queen of Hungary, and would never acknowledge him. Likewise the city of Aix is the place where the emperor ought to be crowned; yet the Emperor Joseph was crowned at Augsburgh in 1690; Charles VI. at Frankfort-on-the-Main, in 1711; as well as Charles his successor, in 1742. By this Bull, the number of electors were fixed to seven ; yet this did not hinder the house of Bavaria from obtaining that dignity in 1623, nor the bouse of Hanover in 1692. The number of electors at present is nine, viz.—1. Mentz, 2. Treves, 3. Cologne, 4. Bohemia, 5. Bavaria, 6. Saxony, 7. Brandenburgh, 8. Palatine, 9. Brunswick Lunenberg; of this number Mentz, Treves, and Cologne, are archbishops. The emperor has no estates in quality of his prerogative, nor any revenue to support his dignity; and therefore they always choose one who has dominions of his own. The throne may become vacant several ways; as by death, resignation, as was done by Charles V., and by deprivation, which happened to the Emperor Wenceslaus. The power of the emperor consists in appointing a meeting of the Diet, and other imperial assemblies, as well as in dissolving them. He has a right to authorize their determinations, and afterwards to put them in execution in his own name. He can confirm alliances and treaties which his predecessors have made for the good of the empire. He can create and confer high secular dignities; such as King, Prince, Archduke, Duke, Marquis, Landgrave, Count, and Baron. He can require an oath of fidelity from all the electors, princes, and other members of the empire. He has the entire disposal of the states and principalities which devolve to the empire by forfeiture or otherwise, and he can institute and confirm universities and academies. All this may be done from his sole authority; but he must have the consent of the electors when he would alienate or mortgage any thing belonging to the empire, or grant the privilege of coining money, or confiscate the goods and estates of rebels. The consent of all the states of the empire is necessary, when he would regulate any thing relating to religion; declare war in or out of the empire, impose subsidies or general contributions, raise troops, build new fortresses, put garrisons into old
and alliances. But if the case is very urgent, the consent of the elector is sufficient; and he can, by his own authority, agree to a truce, or a suspension of arms. He may issue out admonitions, directions, and prohibitions in writing; but these are not binding unless authorized by the Diet, and then they have the force of a law.
When the emperor is elected, he is obliged to certain restrictions of his power, in consequence of a capitulation made with the electors and states of the empire. It is a sort of contract, which he agrees to before he is declared emperor, and which he ratifies after his election. When there is no emperor, or he is absent, the king of the Romans acts in his stead; but if there is no king of the Romans, it devolves to two vicars,—the elector of Saxony, and the elector Palatine. The former exercises his prerogative in upper and lower Saxony; as does the latter on the Rhine, Swabia, and Franconia ; for these are the places where the ancient laws of the Franks were established.
The empire of Germany, in its present state, is only a part of those states that were once under the dominion of Charlemagne. This prince was possessed of France by right of succession: he had conquered by force of arms all the countries situated between the Baltic Sea and the Danube. He added to his empire the kingdom of Lombardy, the city of Rome and its territory, together with the exarcharte of Ravenna, which were almost the only possessions that remained in the West to the emperors of Constantinople. Those vast estates were at that time called the Empire of the West, being only a part of what the Roman emperors were formerly in possession of. In succeeding times, and particularly after the extinction of the race of Charlemagne, France was separated from the empire, and the Germans elected Otho the Great for their sovereign; who again made the conquest of Rome and Italy, and reunited them to his dominions. At length, when the bloody disputes between the priesthood and the empire engaged the government from attending to the conduct of its vassals, several petty and almost independent sovereignties were erected under different pretences; and the emperors being unable to repress their usurpations, were at last contented with a very precarious homage, and confirmed by their authority the possessions of the usurpers. Not contented with this, those who had acted, thus wrongfully, had influence enough to get their encroachments continued by an hereditary succession The emperors, at that time, had no other method of balancing the power of these vassals, which was frequently greater than their own, but by granting several lands to the church, and liberty to several cities. Such is the true original of the power of the states which compose the German empire. However, the emperors have often testified inclinations to revive their ancient rights, and have claimed dominion over Italy and Rome. But scarcely any thing now remains of those possessions, but empty titles without any real jurisdiction.
Several authors have found a great difficulty in determining in what class of government that of the German empire ought to be placed. In fact, if we consider it as having at its head a prince, to whom the estates of the empire are obliged to render homage, to swear fidelity and obedience, and to receive from him the investiture of their fiefs, we shall be induced to regard the empire as a monarchical state. But, on the other hand, the emperor can be regarded only as the representative of the empire, since he has not even the power of making laws; in the same manner, he has no possessions annexed to his dignity; he may grant investiture of fiefs, but he can on no pretence recall this grant once made, without the consent of the empire; besides, in speaking of the states, the emperor always calls them the vassals of us and the empire.
If we consider the power and prerogatives of the states, the
part which they have in the legislation, and the privileges which each of them exert in their own proper dominions, we shall have reason to consider the empire as an aristocratical state. Lastly, we shall find in their Hans-towns democracy prevail, and they have voices at the Diet or council of the empire; from all which we may conclude that the government of the empire is that of a mixed republic.
Thuanus, in speaking of the German empire, remarks, that it is astonishing that so many powerful people, without being forced either by a fear of their neighboring nations or by necessity, could ever concur in forming a state so powerful; a state which has subsisted for so many ages, and of surprising strength, considering the weakness of the greatest part of the members which compose it. This observation, however, we must take the liberty to contradict; for those people have never been united to form one state, but those subjects have rendered themselves independent who before were in subjection, still, however, preserving that degree of subordination which was consistent with their mutual safety. Interest keeps them together, and this is surely a most prevailing consideration.
It is not to be doubted but that the empire, composed as it is of several very powerful states, must be considered as a combination that deserves great respect from the other powers of Europe, provided that all the members which compose it would concur in the common good of their country. But the state is subject to very great inconveniences; the authority of the head is not great enough to command obedience; fear, distrust, and jealousy reign continually among the members; none are willing to yield in the least to their neighbors; the most serious and the most important affairs with respect to the community, are often neglected for private disputes, for precedencies, and all the imaginary privileges of misplaced ambition. The frontiers are all ill