The New Cambridge Modern History: Volume 1, The Renaissance, by G. R. Potter

By G. R. Potter

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The history of diplomatic negotiations will be kept in touch with the social forces behind them. There will be links between the political narrative and the chapters on political thought: questions like nationality, toleration and so forth will be handled not in the abstract but so as to convey an idea of the changes in the actual foundations of government. The New Cambridge Modern History follows the precedent of the older series in not giving footnote-references for the statements in the text except on occasions when they seem to be specially called for.

But it is not obscure in Germany. There a few great houses and a number of smaller ones were consolidating their power despite the emperor, the towns and the knights. The Habsburgs may have been ineffective in ruling Germany as a whole, but even Maximilian was a respected and aggressive prince as far as his Austrian and other dynastic domains were concerned (p. 219). In Germany notably, and to a lesser degree elsewhere, the precepts of civil law did much to buttress the prince, whose feudal rights and duties were now prudently reserved for his relations with the emperor (p.

Even before the fourteenth century princes had been disinclined to allow the Church the liberties it demanded. Prelates were royal nominees wherever and whenever kings were powerful. In the later Middle Ages some control over the Church in their dominions passed even to relatively minor rulers, while the greater sovereigns of Europe pursued ecclesiastical policies which enabled them to become masters of their clergy. The history of the English kings' truculent attitude to the clergy during the whole course of the fourteenth century is familiar: it was justified then by the Papacy being at Avignon, but it continued in even more marked fashion after the schism ended in 1417.

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