Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

.

FUNERAL OBSEQUIES OF THE EMPRESS ANNE. 15

tenderness, seeking to invest the object of lost affection with regal grandeur, even when the spirit had fled from its frail tenement, and the closed senses were alike shut to all earthly ties, whether of pride or of love and her tomb, one of the most beautiful specimens of that glorious period of art, when monumental effigies were likenesses when each distinction of age, of character, of office, was preserved; when each fold of the flowing drapery or minute link of the chain armour, when each delicate outline of the faded features, shrouded under a veil, or starting from a helmet, was delineated by the skilful chisel of the thirteenth century, exists to recall to remembrance the stately and frightful pageant which consigned this empress to the grave she had herself selected in the cathedral of Bâsle.

Gertrude Anne, countess of Hohenberg and Kibourg in her own right, first wife of the emperor Rudolph, count of Habsburg, founder of that dynasty, was not unfitted by her birth for the imperial honours to which she was called by the unexpected elevation of her husband. She was the great niece of Berthold V., last duke of the illustrious family of Zähringen, and inherited, after the death of her brother Hartmann (the younger count of Kibourg, who died at an early age), the major part of the paternal property; for, although he left an infant daughter, the laws of the land, little explanatory as

to female successions, tacitly deemed her the legitimate representative of the family. As the young Anne of Kibourg grew up, she intimated that she was much inclined to contest with her aunt, when arrived at majority, the possession of two or three great lordships; but the accession of Rudolph to the empire, having annihilated all chance of success in any contest, she wisely accepted, in lieu, a husband at his hands, in the young count Eberhard, of Lauffenbourg; whose high lineage and kindred rendered him a very suitable alliance for her.*

The conduct of Rudolph, in giving their spirited young rival in marriage to a princely relative, presents a noble contrast to the cruelty exercised towards Arabella Stuart by James I., the execution of Jane Grey by Mary, and the insults of Elizabeth to all connected with the throne. Anne, grandmother

* The history of this young heiress is somewhat singular. The immense possessions to which she was born were either so foolishly or faithlessly administered during her minority, that she and her mother Elizabeth, sister of the Count Palatine of Upper Burgundy, oftentimes experienced much pecuniary distress, and ran great danger of losing the whole, in some measure through the strange custom of the country, which allowed creditors, for even the smallest trifle, either to live, or place some friend at an Inn, there to be fed at the expense of the hapless debtor, till it was discharged. From the chicanery and manifold impositions to which a female minor especially might be subjected by such a law, she was rescued by her union, at eighteen, with the Count of Lauffenbourg. (Müller.)

INFLUENCE OF WOMAN.

17

of the empress, and wife of Ulric, count of Kibourg, succeeded to the major part of the possessions of her brother Berthold in Western Helvetia; a portion of the Pays de Vaud thus passed also for a time to the Imperial domains.* The marriage of Anne with her cousin Rudolph, whose early violence of temper and unjust attacks on the property of his relations rendered him extremely unpopular at the period, was considered somewhat imprudent. Perhaps the acuteness of feminine perception enabled Anne to see through the veil which shrouded Rudolph's many glorious qualities, and a not too egotistical estimate of her own, might induce her to hope, that when subject to her gentle admonitions, and no longer harassed for money, he would justify her disinterested choice. Lord Bacon, alluding to the secret influence of woman in the domestic relations, observes "no man ever rises above the level of his wife." Certainly, after Rudolph's union with this superior woman, a great and salutary change gradually displayed itself in all his actions, till he was at length found worthy to wield the sceptre of Charlemagne.

Though Anne had been the mother of ten chil

The cathedral of Lausanne was consecrated the 19th of October, 1275, by Gregory X. in the presence of Rudolph, king of Germany, and Anne his wife, with their four sons, Albert, Hartmann, Rudolph, and Sampson, and their four daughters. (Müller.)

dren, she was yet comparatively young and extremely beautiful, when that awful summons, which awaits on all, was delivered to her; and there is, in the memorial left by her confessor of her last moments, something exceedingly noble and affecting in her expressions on receiving the confirmation that she must endeavour to efface from her mind the remembrance of the riches, and glory, and happiness, which environed her in this world, to pass into the solitude and nothingness of the grave. She had been some time ill, without however any apprehension of danger, till within a few days of her dissolution, and the mandate to return to the dust from whence she came must have rendered it more appalling. In the language of the period she asked, "what she must now do to inherit Heaven." The reply of her spiritual director was also characteristic: there was no mention of Christ: she was to resign herself to her doom: forgive her enemies, and leave money to the clergy through the medium of church and convent. She replied immediately.

[ocr errors]

"I bow to the decree of God; and I as freely forgive those who may have injured me as I hope to be pardoned by my Heavenly Judge." Her will was unmade, and to the settlement of her earthly accounts she now directed all the powers of her unimpaired mind. Her first command was to be buried at Bâsle, where her youngest child, prince

TESTAMENT OF THE EMPRESS ANNE.

19

Karl, a boy of seven years of age, had been interred five years previously. She did not, however, assign this as the motive of her wish, but

"Because my dear lord, the emperor, hath done much disservice to the bishop afore time, it is my desire there to be laid." And the bequest of a sum of money to augment the episcopal revenue, sufficiently large to found two prebends, evinced her sincere wish to make atonement to the see for the

wrongs inflicted by Rudolph both on the bishop and diocese.* Anne left many charitable donations to various religious institutions, with valuable remem

* Rudolph, though not naturally cruel, in accordance with the barbarity of the age in which he flourished, had cut off the right legs of fifty miserable men, natives of Neuchâtel, who were taken fighting for the bishop a few years before.

In 1789 the enlightened inhabitants of Bâsle, who received the exiled Jews of Alsace into their very domiciles, were doubtless, in many instances, descended from the senators and citizens who, during the plague of 1347, drove the whole Jewish population, men, women, and children, to the amount of several hundreds, into a wooden house, and there burnt them all alive as the authors of the calamity! And at Kibourg, the Archduke Albert, from the prevalence of the same dark suspicion of poisoning the water-springs, or of exercising witchcraft against the Christians, was obliged to give up a still greater number to the mad fury of the populace.

The Jews' burial place in Bâsle was where the arsenal now stands in St. Peter's Square; and the handsome tombstones, for they were a very affluent body, were broken up and taken to line the sides of the fosses, at the foot of the town walls, where many with Hebrew characters are still distinctly seen.

« ForrigeFortsæt »