From the time of this purchase, and especially till Brother Casimir's death, which happened in 1527, George resided oftener at Jagerndorf than at Anspach. Anspach, by the side of Baireuth, needed no management; and in Jagerndorf much probably required the hand of a good Governor to put it straight again. The Castle of Jagerndorf, which towers up there in a rather grand manner to this day, George built: "the old Castle of the Schellenbergs" (extinct predecessor Line) now gone to ruins, "stands on a Hill with larches on it, some miles off." Margraf George was much esteemed as Duke of Jagerndorf. What his actions in that region were, I know not; but it seems he was so well thought of in Silesia, two smaller neighboring Potentates, the Duke of Oppeln and the Duke of Ratibor, who had no heirs of their body, bequeathed, with the Kaiser's assent, these towns and territories to George: [Rentsch, pp. 623, 127-131. Kaiser is Ferdinand, Karl V.'s Brother,--as yet only KING of Bohemia and Hungary, but supreme in regard to such points. His assent is dated "17th June, 1531" in Rentsch.]--in mere love to their subjects (Rentsch intimates), that poor men might be governed by a wise good Duke, in the time coming. The Kaiser would have got the Duchies otherwise.
Nay the Kaiser, in spite of his preliminary assent, proved extortionate to George in this matter; and exacted heavy sums for the actual possession of Oppeln and Ratibor. George, going so zealously ahead in Protestant affairs, grew less and less a favorite with Kaisers. But so, at any rate, on peaceable unquestionable grounds, grounds valid as Imperial Law and ready money, George is at last Lord of these two little Countries, in the plain of South-Silesia, as of Jagerndorf among the Mountains hard by. George has and holds the Duchy of Jagerndorf, with these appendages (Jagerndorf since 1524, Ratibor and Oppeln since some years later); and lives constantly, or at the due intervals, in his own strong Mountain-Castle of Jagerndorf there,--we have no doubt, to the marked benefit of good men in those parts. Hereby has Jagerndorf joined itself to the Brandenburg Territories: and the reader can note the circumstance, for it will prove memorable one day.
In the business of the Reformation, Margraf George was very noble. A simple-hearted, truth-loving, modestly valiant man; rising unconsciously, in that great element, into the heroic figure. "George the Pious (DER FROMME)," "George the Confessor (BEKENNER)," were the names he got from his countrymen. Once this business had become practical, George interfered a little more in the Culmbach Government; his brother Casimir, who likewise had Reformation tendencies, rather hanging back in comparison to George.
In 1525 the Town-populations, in the Culmbach region, big Nurnberg in the van, had gone quite ahead in the new Doctrine; and were becoming irrepressibly impatient to clear out the old mendacities, and have the Gospel preached freely to them. This was a questionable step; feasible perhaps for a great Elector of Saxony;--but for a Margraf of Anspach? George had come home from Jagerndorf, some three hundred miles away, to look into it for himself; found it, what with darkness all round, what with precipices menacing on both hands, and zealous, inconsiderate Town-populations threatening to take the bit between their teeth, a frightfully intricate thing. George mounted his horse, one day this year, day not dated farther, and "with only six attendants" privately rode off, another two hundred miles, a good three days' ride, to Wittenberg; and alighted at Dr. Martinus Lutherus's door. [Rentsch, p. 625.] A notable passage; worth thinking of. But such visits of high Princes, to that poor house of the Doctor's, were not then uncommon. Luther cleared the doubts of George; George returned with a resolution taken; "Ahead then, ye poor Voigtland Gospel populations! I must lead you, we must on!"--And perils enough there proved to be, and precipices on each hand: BAUERNKRIEG, that is to say Peasants'-War, Anabaptistry and Red- Republic, on the one hand; REICHS-ACHT, Ban of Empire, on the other. But George, eagerly, solemnly attentive, with ever new light rising on him, dealt with the perils as they came; and went steadily on, in a simple, highly manful and courageous manner.
He did not live to see the actual Wars that followed on Luther's preaching:--he was of the same age with Luther, born few months later, and died two years before Luther; [4th March, 1484,-- 27th Dec., 1543, George; 10th November, 1483--18th February, 1546, Luther.]--but in all the intermediate principal transactions George is conspicuously present; "George of Brandenburg," as the Books call him, or simply "Margraf George."
At the Diet of Augsburg (1530), and the signing of the Augsburg Confession there, he was sure to be. He rode thither with his Anspach Knightage about him, "four hundred cavaliers,"-- Seckendorfs, Huttens, Flanses and other known kindreds, recognizable among the lists; [Rentsch, p. 633.]--and spoke there, notbursts of parliamentary eloquence, but things that had meaning in them. One speech of his, not in the Diet, but in the Kaiser's Lodging (15th June, 1530; no doubt, in Anton Fugger's house, where the Kaiser "lodged for year and day" this time but WITHOUT the "fires of cinnamon" they talk of on other occasions [See Carlyle's
Invinciblest all-gracious Kaiser, loyal are we to your high Majesty, ready to do your bidding by night and by day. But it is your bidding under God, not against God. Ask us not, 0 gracious Kaiser! I cannot, and we cannot; and we must not, and dare not. And "before I would deny my God and his Evangel," these are George's own words, "I would rather kneel down here before your Majesty, and have my head struck off,"--hitting his hind-head, or neck, with the edge of his hand, by way of accompaniment; a strange radiance in the eyes of him, voice risen into musical alt:
Speaker and company attended again on the morrow; Margraf George still more eloquent. Whose Speech flew over Germany, like fire over dry flax; and still exists,--both Speeches now oftenest rolled into one by inaccurate editors. [As by Rentsch, ubi supra.] And the CORPUS-CHRISTI idolatries were forborne the Margraf and his company this time;--the Kaiser himself, however, walking, nearly roasted in the sun, in heavy purple-velvet cloak, with a big wax-candle, very superfluous, guttering and blubbering in the right hand of him, along the streets of Augsburg. Kur-Brandenburg, Kur-Mainz, high cousins of George, were at this Diet of Augsburg; Kur-Brandenburg (Elector Joachim I., Cicero's son, of whom we have spoken, and shall speak again) being often very loud on the conservative side; and eloquent Kur-Mainz going on the conciliatory tack. Kur-Brandenburg, in his zeal, had ridden on to Innspruck, to meet the Kaiser there, and have a preliminary word with him. Both these high Cousins spoke, and bestirred themselves, a good deal, at this Diet. They had met the Kaiser on the plains of the Lech, this morning; and, no doubt, gloomed unutterable things on George and his Speech. George could not help it.