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he found an opportunity when none were near, to entreat

time:2023-12-05 19:45:01 source:Untouched network author:way read:314次

Such was more or less the universal humor in the Squirearchy of Brandenburg; not of good omen to Burggraf Friedrich. But the chief seat of contumacy seemed to be among the Quitzows, Putlitzes, above spoken of; big Squires in the district they call the Priegnitz, in the Country of the sluggish Havel River, northwest from Berlin a fifty or forty miles. These refused homage, very many of them; said they were "incorporated with Bohmen;" said this and that;--much disinclined to homage; and would not do it. Stiff surly fellows, much deficient in discernment of what is above them and what is not:--a thick-skinned set; bodies clad in buff leather; minds also cased in ill habits of long continuance.

he found an opportunity when none were near, to entreat

Friedrich was very patient with them; hoped to prevail by gentle methods. He "invited them to dinner;" "had them often at dinner for a year or more:" but could make no progress in that way. "Who is this we have got for a Governor?" said the noble lords privately to each other: "A NURNBERGER TAND (Nurnberg Plaything,-- wooden image, such as they make at Nurnberg)," said they, grinning, in a thick-skinned way: "If it rained Burggraves all the year round, none of them would come to luck in this Country;"--and continued their feuds, toll-levyings, plunderings and other contumacies. Seeing matters come to this pass after waiting above a year, Burggraf Friedrich gathered his Frankish men-at-arms; quietly made league with the neighboring Potentates, Thuringen and others; got some munitions, some artillery together--especially one huge gun, the biggest ever seen, "a twenty-four pounder" no less; to which the peasants, dragging her with difficulty through the clayey roads, gave the name of FAULE GRETE (Lazy, or Heavy Peg); a remarkable piece of ordnance. Lazy Peg he had got from the Landgraf of Thuringen, on loan merely; but he turned her to excellent account of his own. I have often inquired after Lazy Peg's fate in subsequent times; but could never learn anything distinct:--the German Dryasdust is a dull dog, and seldom carries anything human in those big wallets of his!--

he found an opportunity when none were near, to entreat

Equipped in this way, Burggraf Friedrich (he was not yet Kurfurst, only coming to be) marches for the Havel Country (early days of 1414); [Michaelis, i. 287; Stenzel, i. 168 (where, contrary to wont, is an insignificant error or two). Pauli (ii. 58) is, as usual, lost in water.] makes his appearance before Quitzow's strong-house of Friesack, walls fourteen feet thick: "You Dietrich von Quitzow, are you prepared to live as a peaceable subject henceforth: to do homage to the Laws and me?"--"Never!" answered Quitzow, and pulled up his drawbridge. Whereupon Heavy Peg opened upon him, Heavy Peg and other guns; and, in some eight-and-forty hours, shook Quitzow's impregnable Friesack about his ears. This was in the month of February, 1414, day not given: Friesack was the name of the impregnable Castle (still discoverable in our time); and it ought to be memorable and venerable to every Prussian man. Burggraf Friedrich VI., not yet quite become Kurfurst Friedrich I., but in a year's space to become so, he in person was the beneficent operator; Heavy Peg, and steady Human Insight, these were clearly the chief implements.

he found an opportunity when none were near, to entreat

Quitzow being settled,--for the country is in military occupation of Friedrich and his allies, and except in some stone castle a man has no chance,--straightway Putlitz or another mutineer, with his drawbridge up, was battered to pieces, and his drawbridge brought slamming down. After this manner, in an incredibly short period, mutiny was quenched; and it became apparent to Noble Lords, and to all men, that here at length was a man come who would have the Laws obeyed again, and could and would keep mutiny down.

Friedrich showed no cruelty; far the contrary. Your mutiny once ended, and a little repented of, he is ready to be your gracious Prince again: Fair-play and the social wine-cup, or inexorable war and Lazy Peg, it is at your discretion which. Brandenburg submitted; hardly ever rebelled more. Brandenburg, under the wise Kurfurst it has got, begins in a small degree to be cosmic again, or of the domain of the gods; ceases to be chaotic and a mere cockpit of the devils. There is no doubt but this Friedrich also, like his ancestor Friedrich III., the First Hereditary Burggraf, was an excellent citizen of his country: a man conspicuously important in all German business in his time. A man setting up for no particular magnanimity, ability or heroism, but unconsciously exhibiting a good deal; which by degrees gained universal recognition. He did not shine much as Reichs-Generalissimo, under Kaiser Sigismund, in his expeditions against Zisca; on the contrary, he presided over huge defeat and rout, once and again, in that capacity; and indeed had represented in vain that, with such a species of militia, victory was impossible. He represented and again represented, to no purpose; whereupon he declined the office farther; in which others fared no better. [Hormayr, OEsterreichischer Plutarch vii. 109-158, ? Zisca.]

The offer to be Kaiser was made him in his old days; but he wisely declined that too. It was in Brandenburg, by what he silently founded there, that he did his chief benefit to Germany and mankind. He understood the noble art of governing men; had in him the justice, clearness, valor and patience needed for that. A man of sterling probity, for one thing. Which indeed is the first requisite in said art:--if you will have your laws obeyed without mutiny, see well that they be pieces of God Almighty's Law: otherwise all the artillery in the world will not keep down mutiny.

Friedrich "travelled much over Brandenburg;" looking into everything with his own eyes;--making, I can well fancy, innumerable crooked things straight. Reducing more and more that famishing dog-kennel of a Brandenburg into a fruitful arable field. His portraits represent a square headed, mild-looking solid gentleman, with a certain twinkle of mirth in the serious eyes of him. Except in those Hussite wars for Kaiser Sigismund and the Reich, in which no man could prosper, he may be defined as constantly prosperous. To Brandenburg he was, very literally, the blessing of blessings; redemption out of death into life. In the ruins of that old Friesack Castle, battered down by Heavy Peg, Antiquarian Science (if it had any eyes) might look for the tap-root of the Prussian Nation, and the beginning of all that Brandenburg has since grown to under the sun.

Friedrich, in one capacity or another, presided over Brandenburg near thirty years. He came thither first of all in 1412; was not completely Kurfurst in his own right till 1415; nor publicly installed, "with 100,000 looking on from the roofs and windows," in Constance yonder, till 1417,--age then some forty-five. His Brandenburg residence, when he happened to have time for residing or sitting still, was Tangermunde, the Castle built by Kaiser Karl IV. He died there, 21st September, 1440; laden tolerably with years, and still better with memories of hard work done. Rentsch guesses by good inference he was born about 1372. As I count, he is seventh in descent from that Conrad, Burggraf Conrad I., Cadet of Hohenzollern, who came down from the Rauhe Alp, seeking service with Kaiser Redbeard, above two centuries ago: Conrad's generation and six others had vanished successively from the world-theatre in that ever-mysterious manner, and left the stage clear, when Burggraf Friedrich the Sixth came to be First Elector. Let three centuries, let twelve generations farther come and pass, and there will be another still more notable Friedrich,--our little Fritz, destined to be Third King of Prussia, officially named Friedrich II., and popularly Frederick the Great. This First Elector is his lineal ancestor, twelve times removed. [Rentsch, pp. 349-372; Hubner, t. 176.]


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