Miltitz, Karl Von

Miltitz, Karl Von a Roman ecclesiastic, celebrated as the papal chamberlain and legate to the Reformers, was the son of a Saxon nobleman, and was born about 1490. He flourished first as canon at Mayence, Treves, and Missonia. In 1515 he removed to Rome and became papal notary. In 1518, when cardinal Cajetan had so signally failed in bringing "little brother Martin" to submission, Leo X became aware of the greatness of the schism likely to occur in the German Church. The strife against the Latin system had assumed gigantic proportions. Around Luther were now gathered the great, and the strong, and the learned of the Teutonic race. Frederick, the electoral prince of Saxony, was Luther's staunch friend and protector, and Leo X, knowing the influence and power of this prince, felt loth to incur his ill-will by harsh measures against Luther. Miltitz was therefore despatched to the electoral court with a valuable present — the consecrated golden rose. This was to give the electoral prince assurance of the good intentions of pope Leo towards Saxony, and of his special friendship for Frederick; at the same time he was instructed to conciliate Luther, and, if possible, to make an end of the whole Lutheran controversy. In December, 1518, Miltitz arrived in Saxony, but, being careful to find out first how matters stood, he did not take the consecrated rose with him on his first call. This was a mistake on Miltitz's part, for, when the rose afterwards arrived, the prince acted very coolly, and, instead of accepting the present in person, commissioned three of his noblemen to receive the pope's gift, and Luther aptly remarked that "its odor had been lost on the long journey" (see Luther's Briefe, edited by De Wette, 1:108, 109). Miltitz's special instructions were to conciliate Luther, and we must acknowledge that he acted with much policy and skill. He carefully abstained from visiting cardinal Cajetan, who, by his imperious and arrogant treatment of Luther, had lost all influence with the electoral prince. When among friends, or even while staying in public houses, he did not hesitate to denounce the indulgence traffic, and assured his hearers that the — shameful trade was carried on without the pope's consent. It was therefore perfectly natural that the electoral prince and Luther should have put confidence in Miltitz, and that his mission of conciliation seemed in a fair way to succeed (comp. however, Fisher, Ref. page 97, note 2). On January 3, 1519, Miltitz had a conference with Luther at Altenburg. The papal legate received the Reformer kindly, embraced and kissed him, and then addressed him as follows: "Dear brother Maftin, how much I have been mistaken! I always imagined you an old doctor, sitting behind the stove, and full of whims and chimerical notions. But now I see that you are in the very height of manly strength. Not with five thousand armed men would I dare to take you to Rome. All my investigations have shown me that, wherever one person is for the pope, three are against him and for you." He then in the kindest manner remonstrated against Luther's violence, showing him how much harm the Church had to suffer in consequence. He failed, however, to procure any recantation, and succeeded simply in obtaining from Luther an expression of submissiveness. Silence was imposed on him, as well as on his opponents, and it was agreed to transfer the whole matter to the judgment of the archbishop of Treves. In consequence of this agreement, Luther wrote to the pope a letter full of courtesy and humility, and went even so far as to declare publicly "that separation from a Church for which St. Paul and St. Peter, and one hundred thousand martyrs, had shed their blood, was not permissible, and that on no account must we resist her teachings and commands" (see Walch, 15:812). This attitude of the great Reformer has often been stigmatized by the Romanists as an act of hypocrisy and simulation (see Wetzer u. Weite, Kirchen-Lex. 7:148 Pallavicini, Gesch. d. Conc. v. Trient); but Luther's design, it must be borne in mind, was not to array himself against the Church, but to vindicate her against what he believed to be an abuse of her sacred name. Luther's movements were so completely churchly that even archbishop Manning (Unity of the Church, page 328 sq.) is obliged to acknowledge it. At this critical moment (February 1519) Dr. Eck, one of Luther's most prominent opponents, who in 1518 had challenged Carlstadt to a public disputation, published an outline of his Theses, which clearly proved to Luther that the main object of his attack was not Carlstadt, but himself. Luther considered this a breach of the agreement which he had concluded with Miltitz, and, as his adversaries did not hold themselves bound thereby, he, of course, felt relieved from his promise, and he so declared to the elector Frederick on the 13th of March. Luther's position at these disputations widened the breach with Rome, SEE LUTHER; and the reformatory writings, To the Christian Nobles of the German Nation, of the Bettering of the Christian State (August 1520), and Of the Babylonish Captivity of the Church (October 1520), tended to fix the fact that reconciliation with the Church of Rome was no longer possible. Yet Miltitz would not despair of it. October 12, 1520, he had another conference with Luther at Lichtenberg, and then and there Luther expressed himself willing once more to test the question. It was too late, however, for in September 1520. Eck had appeared in Germany with the papal bull, condemning as heresies forty-one propositions extracted from Luther's writings, and summoning him, on pain of excommunication, to retract his errors within sixty days. This ended Miltitz's mission as far as Luther was concerned. But as Miltitz's instructions extended not only against Luther, but also against Tetzel, whose behavior in the traffic in indulgences had been marked with peculiar impudence and indecency, he now repaired to Leipsic (December 1519), sent for Tetzel, and subjected him to a most searching examination, which is given in a letter written by Miltitz to Pfeffinger (see Lescher, Reformationsacten, 3:20 [Leipsic, 1729]): "I know enough of Tetzel's scandalous and lying life and actions. I convicted him of his crimes by well- attested testimony. I showed him the receipts of Fugger's commissioners, which proved beyond doubt that he received one hundred and thirty florins per month for his trouble, besides all expenses paid; a carriage with three horses, and ten florins per month extra for his servant. Thus did Tetzel, who, moreover, has two illegitimate children in the employ of the Church. No one can estimate how much he may have stolen. I shall report all these things to Rome, and expect a papal judgment." Tetzel, in consequence of his fear and anxiety, was taken dangerously sick, and died soon after. All efforts of reconciliation having failed, Miltitz returned to Rome, but, after a short stay; he returned to Germany, and died there in 1529 — some say while on his homeward journey. See Seidemann, Carl v. Miltitz (Dresden, 1844, 8vo); id. Die Leipziger Disputation im Jahre 1519 (Dresden, 1843, 8vo); Luther's Briefe (edited by De Wette), 1:108, 109, and 115; Ranke, Hist. of the Reformation, 1:386 sq.; Hagenbach, Kirchengesch. 3:83 sq.; Krauth, Conservat. Reformation; Fisher, Hist. of the Reformation, page 97; Waddington, Hist. of the Reformation, volume 1, chapter 3; Gieseler, Eccles. Hist. volume 4; Herzog, Real-Encyklopadie, 8:326, 577; 3:629; 15:579.

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