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When Maria Theresa terminated her reign, most of the noble families who had devoted their lives and fortunes to the primitive aggrandizement of the house of Habsburg were extinct; and continual wars between the Imperial family and the Swiss had long alienated them from the country, without, however, destroying all those feelings and reminiscences which render ancestral possessions so dear to the heart; for Frederic III. visited the half-devastated towers of Habsburg just after his accession to the throne of Germany in 1440; and on seeing them evinced a degree of sensibility very foreign to his usual stoicism of character and coldness of demeanour. In 1815 the emperor Francis II., after the conclusion of the war, also made a pilgrimage of sentiment to the ruins of Habsburg, accompanied only by the burgomaster of the little adjacent town of Brugg; and found the fortress in which Rudolph first drew his breath had experienced the common lot of ancient buildings, where

"The peasant holds the lordly pile,
And cattle fill the roofless aisle:"-

in the same way a contest between the constituted authorities and Conrad of Tellendorf, governor of Kybourg, whom a body of nuns had surprised into a charter of exemption. The general unpopularity of such immunities is attested by the fact that the peasants of Schwytz, long afterwards, sold to Conrad Hanno, then grown grey in the service of his country, a propriety, for ten livres, worth as many hundred florins.

where the stream, that once defended the frowning battlements of the haughty occupant, is often diverted from its pristine course to turn, for the benefit of the descendants of his serfs, the merry wheel of some tiny manufactory; whilst webs of cloth, and heaps of linen hanging to dry or to bleach on the crumbling walls, replace the proud banners that formerly floated over them. The position of Habsburg, perched on a steep insular mountain, forbad this species of commercial degradation; but grass grew luxuriantly in its halls and courts; and the massive old keep or donjon, built by the gold of Werner, bishop of Strasbourg, to increase the importance of his elder brother the first count, was converted into a shot tower!

Anne was sojourning at Habsburg, when a crowd of titled dames and belted knights came to congratulate her on her lord's unexpected elevation to the most powerful throne in Europe. And it is orally recorded that, whilst the emperor Francis was gazing with intense interest on this ruined cradle of a long line of emperors, an old woman whose dishevelled silver hair was hardly shaded by a ragged handkerchief, looking through the thick iron bars of the mullioned window, where tradition states that Anne stood to receive the courtly train, screamed out her wonder, "that any one like a gentleman could take pleasure in beholding such a miserable old tenement.”



The career of Rudolph, says Müller, presents a noble example to young men of ardent temperament, whose youthful passions have led them astray at the outset of life, not to despair that their early errors may yet be redeemed by the wise government of their future lives. Before he was forty years of age, Rudolph had made war on almost all his family in furtherance of his ambitious views on their patrimony; his own inheritance being far too inadequate to satisfy his desires after wealth and power. He was twice excommunicated as a Ghibelin, and again for having, in his quarrels with the Bishop of Bâsle, burnt the convent of the penitent sisters of St. Mary Magdalen, situated in a faubourg of the city. Probably in atonement for this offence, he joined the crusade of Ottocar, king of Bohemia, against the infidels of Prussia, who had for fifty years struggled against the chevaliers of the Teutonic order in defence of their liberty and heathen gods. His union with his cousin Gertrude, whose heart had been unable to withstand the attractions of his handsome person and chivalrous bearing, notwithstanding his family offences, seems to have been the first step towards his reformation; and although he had absolutely forced two of his uncles to give away the major part of their possession merely to escape his persecutions, he was thenceforth admitted into the kindred circle again; a great act of Christian

and kinsmanly forgiveness, which ultimately paved the way to the extraordinary elevation of their house to the imperial dignity through a member who, after having been so flagrant a violator of all laws, was elected expressly to establish the order and tranquillity of a mighty realm. Nor did he disappoint the expectations of those who saw in him the glorious Prince Hal of our own country. Active, simple, popular, wise, and valorous,—in every thing the man of his age, he accomplished great things without violent measures; and while vigilant for the state, never lost sight of his own house, building it up, however, with prudent caution and slowness, which his son Albert neglecting, in his eager wish to complete the work, lost his life.*

One of two much-aggrieved uncles subsequently appointed him his heir; the descendants of the other, the Count of Lauffenbourg-Habsburg, were doomed by his early violence to a different destiny and expatriation to a distant land. After valiantly defending his aged father against this turbulent cousin, Godfrey, son of the old Count of Lauffenbourg-Habsburg, seeing resistance useless, yielded to necessity, and inade an onerous peace; but not till he was so impoverished that his eldest son, William, Count of Lauffenbourg-Habsburg, Lord of Lauffenbourg and

* Müller.



of Rhinfelding in Germany, with no other riches than his titles and admirable qualities, passed into England, where he obtained a rank inferior indeed to that which he had abandoned, but still illustrious.

The imperial line of Rudolph was extinguished in the person of Maria Theresa, empress of Germany, but the descendants of the self-exiled Count of Lauffenbourg still exist in the noble family of Fielding, Earl of Denbigh. There is a long Latin notice of this branch of the house of Habsburg in Müller's German History of the Swiss; and it is curious to mark the various changes in the spelling of the name of these former lords of Rhinfelding now occupying a seat in the British parliament Fildying, Felden, Filden, Fielding.

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