CHAPTER 10: General Persecutions in Germany (3/4)
The enormous cruelties will be a perpetual stain on the memory of Count Tilly, who not only committed, but even commanded the troops to put them in practice. Wherever he came, the most horrid barbarities and cruel depredations ensued: famine and conflagration marked his progress: for he destroyed all the provisions he could not take with him, and burnt all the towns before he left them; so that the full result of his conquests were murder, poverty, and desolation.
An aged and pious divine they stripped naked, tied him on his back upon a table, and fastened a large, fierce cat upon his belly. They then pricked and tormented the cat in such a manner that the creature with rage tore his belly open, and gnawed his bowels.
Another minister and his family were seized by these inhuman monsters; they ravished his wife and daughter before his face; stuck his infant son upon the point of a lance, and then surrounding him with his whole library of books, they set fire to them, and he was consumed in the midst of the flames.
In Hesse-Cassel some of the troops entered an hospital, in which were principally mad women, when stripping all the poor wretches naked, they made them run about the streets for their diversion, and then put them all to death.
In Pomerania, some of the imperial troops entering a small town, seized upon all the young women, and girls of upwards of ten years, and then placing their parents in a circle, they ordered them to sing Psalms, while they ravished their children, or else they swore they would cut them to pieces afterward. They then took all the married women who had young children, and threatened, if they did not consent to the gratification of their lusts, to burn their children before their faces in a large fire, which they had kindled for that purpose.
A band of Count Tilly’s soldiers meeting a company of merchants belonging to Basel, who were returning from the great market of Strassburg, attempted to surround them; all escaped, however, but ten, leaving their properties behind. The ten who were taken begged hard for their lives: but the soldiers murdered them saying, “You must die because you are heretics, and have got no money.”
The same soldiers met with two countesses, who, together with some young ladies, the daughters of one of them, were taking an airing in a landau. The soldiers spared their lives, but treated them with the greatest indecency, and having stripped them all stark naked, bade the coachman drive on.
By means and mediation of Great Britain, peace was at length restored to Germany, and the Protestants remained unmolested for several years, until some new disturbances broke out in the Palatinate, which were thus occasioned:
The great Church of the Holy Ghost, at Heidelberg, had, for many years, been shared equally by the Protestants and Roman Catholics in this manner: the Protestants performed divine service in the nave or body of the church; and the Roman Catholics celebrated Mass in the choir. Though this had been the custom from time immemorial, the elector of the Palatinate, at length, took it into his head not to suffer it any longer, declaring, that as Heidelberg was the place of his residence, and the Church of the Holy Ghost the cathedral of his principal city, divine service ought to be performed only according to the rites of the Church of which he was a member. He then forbade the Protestants to enter the church, and put the papists in possession of the whole.
The aggrieved people applied to the Protestant powers for redress, which so much exasperated the elector, that he suppressed the Heidelberg catechism. The Protestant powers, however, unanimously agreed to demand satisfaction, as the elector, by this conduct, had broken an article of the treaty of Westphalia; and the courts of Great Britain, Prussia, Holland, etc., sent deputies to the elector, to represent the injustice of his proceedings, and to threaten, unless he changed his behavior to the Protestants in the Palatinate, that they would treat their Roman Catholic subjects with the greatest severity. Many violent disputes took place between the Protestant powers and those of the elector, and these were greatly augmented by the following incident: the coach of the Dutch minister standing before the door of the resident sent by the prince of Hesse, the host was by chance being carried to a sick person; the coachman took not the least notice, which those who attended the host observing, pulled him from his box, and compelled him to kneel; this violence to the domestic of a public minister was highly resented by all the Protestant deputies; and still more to heighten these differences, the Protestants presented to the deputies three additional articles of complaint.
# 1. That military executions were ordered against all Protestant shoemakers who should refuse to contribute to the Masses of St. Crispin.
# 2. that the Protestants were forbid to work on popish holy days, even in harvest time, under very heavy penalties, which occasioned great inconveniences, and considerably prejudiced public business.
# 3. That several Protestant ministers had been dispossessed of their churches, under pretence of their having been originally founded and built by Roman Catholics.