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temporal, from the prying curiosity of men whom they considered self-constituted and most obnoxious directors of their actions and fortune; whilst the monks, not behindhand in watchfulness or craft, availed themselves of the privileges of their position to subdue the pride and cramp the energies of these rebels to their imagined rights. The artful question, subtilely proposed by masculine intellect and shrewdness, was foreseen and parried by feminine acuteness and ingenuity. The monks hinted at the power of the church, and the sacredness of monastic discipline

the nuns talked of the puissance of their fathers, and brothers, and cousins, and made adroit allusions to their exemption from any bonds but those common to a religious profession.

This profitless contest of words might have been spun out much longer, if the prioress- the Lady Anne of Thierstein *, who inherited all the spirit and

* Anne of Thierstein, elected prioress in 1424, was a member of the primitive race settled at Farnsperg, "das gross und wolhbewahrt Schloss,” which proudly looked down from its lofty eminence upon so many smiling valleys and cheerful hamlets, all owing allegiance to the lordly proprietor at a very distant epoch; for so early as 1180, this family, already illustrious, was divided into three houses, from two of which descended the lines of Guelf, Kybourg, and Habsburg. In 1154, the prince-bishop of Bâsle was a Thierstein, and about the same epoch Ludwig, Abbot of Einsiedeln; but the list of Tochtern Klosterfrauen, is far longer than that of sons devoted to the seclusion of a monastic life, probably from the valorous spirit of

SPIRITED CONDUCT OF ANNE OF THIERSTEIN. 71

address which distinguished every individual of that noble family, weary of the very sight of her cowled persecutors, had not, by suddenly changing her tactics, brought this covert fight to a final close in 1431. She ordered the gates of the convent to be shut in the faces of these unwelcome visitors; and having by this desperate coup d'état freed herself at once from all unpleasant arguments on the subject, she proceeded to declare that, the affairs of the convent being grossly mismanaged, and the Dominicans themselves become absolutely insupportable from their brutality, tyranny, and ignorance, she, in the just exercise of her own inalienable rights, and in the names of the twenty-four honourable ladies composing the society of Klingenthal under her government, dissolved the union which had so long subsisted between them and the brother-preachers of the Dominican order, and had placed the monastery under the immediate direction and protection of its

the family, more willing to carve out fortune with the sword than seek it under a cowl. Two counts, Walraf, zu Sempach erschlagen, 1386, and Hans, auch zu Sempach erschlagen, both killed at Sempach, experienced the same fate as hundreds of the nobility during the long struggle between the house of Austria and the Swiss. Wolfhard married Ida of Habsburg 1179, and at a later period one of the female ancestors of Henry de Höwen, bishop of Constance, was a countess of Thierstein. There were also many marriages between them and the barons of Klingen, the counts of Toggenburg, and other distinguished nobles.

spiritual diocesan, the bishop of Constance, Henry of Höwen, a prelate of noble lineage and princely bearing.*

It is more than probable that the Dominican monks, imbued with the fierce spirit of their intolerant founder, and often men of coarse manners and humble extraction, whose learning rather than refinement was their passport to power, had rendered themselves far more distasteful to their patrician sisters, by domineering insolence and the uncourtly ad- . monitions of plebeian reproof, than by any fault in the stewardship of their temporalities, which circumstances afterwards proved to be in a flourishing state; and when recovered from their amazement at the boldness and dexterity of their female adversaries, they loudly appealed against the injustice of this unpalatable rejection. But all in vain: the bishop of Constance, it may be, not unwilling to enjoy the advantages arising from the administration of such extensive possessions, and allied either by consanguinity or friendship with the high-born complainants, declared he "could not refuse the shelter of his episcopal crook to female lambs of his own flock, flying to him for pity, guidance, and protection." This deci

* Little-Bâsle properly belonged to the see of Constance, though the bishop of Bâsle was associated in the charter from his proximity. He does not appear to have taken any part in the dispute at its commencement.

DISCOMFITURE OF THE MONKS.

73

sion terminated all further intercourse between the cloistered combatants. The discomfited monks withdrew from the hopeless contest, for a bishop was too important and sacred a personage in the fifteenth century to be thwarted by any class of men, much less a body of Dominican friars; and the ladies of Klingenthal (so they were respectfully denominated) remained undisputed mistresses of their own domains, and, what they perhaps valued yet more, their own actions.

That this quarrel did them little injury in public estimation is evidenced from the respected name of

*

*The Dominicans were not, in fact, generally popular, especially in the first two centuries of their establishment: their reprimands were stern, and their carriage haughty and overbearing. It would seem, indeed, as if the fierce, untamed spirit of their chief, the founder of the Inquisition, the destroyer of the Albigenses, were infused through the veins, and throbbed in the pulses of all his disciples; for they have frequently been on unfriendly terms with each other, not merely upon comparatively minor points, but those essential dogmas of the Church, on which it might have been presumed they, at least, would be unanimous. At that grand epoch when the Christian world, then undivided by the distinctions of Protestant and Romanist, was agitated by the respective claims of Urban VI. and Clement VII., to the papal throne in 1378, Catherine of Sienna, afterwards canonised by Pius II., a nun of the order of St. Dominic, who played a more conspicuous part in life's drama then her sex is usually allowed to perform, wrote very largely and warmly in favour of Urban VI.; whilst Vincent Ferrier, a monk of the same rule at Bologna, also a canonised saint, and not less celebrated than his female antago VOL. I.

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the learned Peter Icelin, a monk of the order of Augustins at Bâsle, appearing in the great chronicle as their father confessor six years after its termination; and the internal prosperity of the institution may be divined from the existence of a deed, executed about the same period (1437), by which John of Eschenberg, as steward of the convent of Klingenthal, in Minder-Basel, Elizabeth Knüwlerin, prioress, and Ulmann Imhof, of Great Bâsle, lent the sum of 1800 florins of the Rhine, at five per cent interest, to the Count Henry of Werdenberg-Sargans, to enable him to redeem his lordship of Sargans, and pay some pressing debts. The cantons of Glaris and Schwytz were his bail for this loan, which he doubtless owed to the private friendship of some of the nuns, for his affairs were then in a state of great embarrassment, and there is no record that he ever paid it, except by an offer of his sword, when his hand, enfeebled by age and sorrow, could hardly grasp the weapon he was so willing to exert in defence of the rights of the

convent.

It appears from this document that the Lady Anne of Thierstein had gone to join her kindred dust, but she left her mantle behind her; and ere the expiration of half-a-century it was worn with pre-eminent wisdom and effect by two of her successors in another skir

nist for miracles and revelations, took an equally active interest in the success of Clement VII.

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