were evidently old ones, many of them being much discoloured
"4. A still more orthodox specimen, the youngest member of the family, who is likewise in orders: Gumbrecht ('Gumbertus, a Canonicus of' Something or other, say the Books); who went early to Rome, and became one of his Holiness Leo Tenth's Chamberlains; --stood the 'Sack of Rome' (Constable de Bourbon's), and was captured there and ransomed;--but died still young (1528). These three were Catholics, he of Wurzburg a rather virulent one."
Catholic also was JOHANNES, a fifth Brother, who followed the soldiering and diplomatic professions, oftenest in Spain; did Government-messages to Diets, and the like, for Karl V.; a high man and well seen of his Kaiser;--he had wedded the young Widow of old King Ferdinand in Spain; which proved, seemingly, a troublous scene for poor Johannes. What we know is, he was appointed Commandant of Valencia; and died there, still little turned of thirty,--by poison it is supposed,--and left his young Widow to marry a third time.
These are the Five minor Brothers, four of them Catholic, sons of old blind Friedrich of Plassenburg; who are not, for their own sake, memorable, but are mentionable for the sake of the three major Brothers. So many orthodox Catholics, while Brother George and others went into the heresies at such a rate! A family much split by religion:--and blind old Friedrich, dim of intellect, knew nothing of it; and the excellent Polish Mother said and thought, we know not what. A divided Time!--
Johannes of Valencia, and these Chief Priests, were all men of mark; conspicuous to the able editors of their day: but the only Brother now generally known to mankind is Albert, Hochmeister of the Teutsch Ritterdom; by whom Preussen came into the Family. Of him we must now speak a little.
HOCHMEISTER ALBERT, THIRD NOTABLE SON OF FRIEDRICH.
Albert was born in 1490; George's junior by six years, Casimir's by nine. He too had been meant for the Church; but soon quitted that, other prospects and tendencies opening. He had always loved the ingenuous arts; but the activities too had charms for him. He early shone in his exercises spiritual and bodily; grew tall above his fellows, expert in arts, especially in arms;--rode with his Father to Kaiser Max's Court; was presented by him, as the light of his eyes, to Kaiser Max; who thought him a very likely young fellow; and bore him in mind, when the Mastership of the Teutsch Ritterdom fell vacant. [Rentsch, pp. 840-863.]
The Teutsch Ritterdom, ever since it got its back broken in that Battle of Tannenberg in 1410, and was driven out of West-Preussen with such ignominious kicks, has been lying bedrid, eating its remaining revenues, or sprawling about in helpless efforts to rise again, which require no notice from us. Hopeless of ever recovering West-Preussen, it had quietly paid its homage to Poland for the Eastern part of that Country; quietly for some couple of generations. But, in the third or fourth generation after Tannenberg, there began to rise murmurs,--in the Holy Roman Empire first of all. "Preussen is a piece of the Reich," said hot, inconsiderate people; "Preussen could not be alienated without consent of the Reich!" To which discourses the afflicted Ritters listened only too gladly; their dull eyes kindling into new false hopes at sound of them. The point was, To choose as Hochmeister some man of German influence, of power and connection in the Country, who might help them to their so-called right. With this view, they chose one and then another of such sort;--and did not find it very hopeful, as we shall see.
Albert was chosen Grand-Master of Preussen, in February, 1511; age then twenty-one. Made his entry into Konigsberg, November next year; in grand cavalcade, "dreadful storm of rain and wind at the time,"--poor Albert all in black, and full of sorrow, for the loss of his Mother, the good Polish Princess, who had died since he left home. Twenty months of preparation he had held since his Election, before doing anything: for indeed the case was intricate. He, like his predecessor in office, had undertaken to refuse that Homage to Poland; the Reich generally, and Kaiser Max himself, in a loose way of talk, encouraging him: "A piece of the Reich," said they all; "Teutsch Ritters had no power to give it away in that manner." Which is a thing more easily said, than made good in the way of doing.