Albert, I can conjecture, had his own difficulties as Regent in Preussen. [1525-1568.] Protestant Theology, to make matters worse for him, had split itself furiously into 'DOXIES; and there was an OSIANDERISM (Osiander being the Duke's chaplain), much flamed upon by the more orthodox ISM. "Foreigners," too, German-Anspach and other, were ill seen by the native gentlemen; yet sometimes got encouragement. One Funccius, a shining Nurnberg immigrant there, son-in-law of Osiander, who from Theology got into Politics, had at last (1564) to be beheaded,--old Duke Albert himself "bitterly weeping" about him; for it was none of Albert's doing. Probably his new allodial Ritter gentlemen were not the most submiss, when made hereditary? We can only hope the Duke was a Hohenzollern, and not quite unequal to his task in this respect. A man with high bald brow; magnificent spade-beard; air much- pondering, almost gaunt,--gaunt kind of eyes especially, and a slight cast in them, which adds to his severity of aspect. He kept his possession well, every inch of it; and left all safe at his decease in 1568. His age was then near eighty. It was the tenth year of our Elizabeth as Queen; invincible Armada not yet built; but Alba very busy, cutting off high heads in Brabant; and stirring up the Dutch to such fury as was needful for exploding Spain and him.
This Duke Albert was a profoundly religious man, as all thoughtful men then were. Much given to Theology, to Doctors of Divinity; being eager to know God's Laws in this Universe, and wholesomely certain of damnation if he should not follow them. Fond of the profane Sciences too, especially of Astronomy: Erasmus Reinhold and his
Albert had not failed to marry, as Luther counselled: by his first Wife he had only daughters; by his second, one son, Albert Friedrich, who, without opposition or difficulty, succeeded his Father. Thus was Preussen acquired to the Hohenzollern Family; for, before long, the Electoral branch managed to get MITBELEHNUNG (Co-infeftment), that is to say, Eventual Succession; and Preussen became a Family Heritage, as Anspach and Baireuth were.
One word must be spent on poor Albert, Casimir's son, [1522-1557] already mentioned. This poor Albert, whom they call ALCIBIADES, made a great noise in that epoch; being what some define as the "Failure of a Fritz;" who has really features of him we are to call "Friedrich the Great," but who burnt away his splendid qualities as a mere temporary shine for the able editors, and never came to anything.
A high and gallant young fellow, left fatherless in childhood; perhaps he came too early into power:--he came, at any rate, in very volcanic times, when Germany was all in convulsion; the Old Religion and the New having at length broken out into open battle, with huge results to be hoped and feared; and the largest game going on, in sight of an adventurous youth. How Albert staked in it; how he played to immense heights of sudden gain, and finally to utter bankruptcy, I cannot explain here: some German delineator of human destinies, "Artist" worth the name, if there were any, might find in him a fine subject.
He was ward of his Uncle George; and the probable fact is, no guardian could have been more faithful. Nevertheless, on approaching the years of majority, of majority but not discretion, he saw good to quarrel with his Uncle; claimed this and that, which was not granted: quarrel lasting for years. Nay matters ran so high at last, it was like to come to war between them, had not George been wiser. The young fellow actually sent a cartel to his Uncle; challenged him to mortal combat,--at which George only wagged his old beard, we suppose, and said nothing. Neighbors interposed, the Diet itself interposed; and the matter was got quenched again. Leaving Albert, let us hope, a repentant young man. We said he was full of fire, too much of it wildfire.
His profession was Arms; he shone much in war; went slashing and fighting through those Schmalkaldic broils, and others of his time; a distinguished captain; cutting his way towards something high, he saw not well what. He had great comradeship with Moritz of Saxony in the wars: two sworn brothers they, and comrades in arms:--it is the same dexterous Moritz, who, himself a Protestant, managed to get his too Protestant Cousin's Electorate of Saxony into his hand, by luck of the game; the Moritz, too, from whom Albert by and by got his last defeat, giving Moritz his death in return. That was the finale of their comradeship. All things end, and nothing ceases changing till it end.
He was by position originally on the Kaiser's side; had attained great eminence, and done high feats of arms and generalship in his service. But being a Protestant by creed, he changed after that Schmalkaldic downfall (rout of Muhlberg, 24th April, 1547), which brought Moritz an Electorate, and nearly cost Moritz's too Protestant Cousin his life as well as lands. [Account of it in De Wette,