Schwarzenberg, Johann Von
Schwarzenberg, Johann Von, a prominent German statesman, warrior, and author of works for the people in the days of the Reformation, was born Dec. 25, 1463, received a knightly training, and was not less distinguished by herculean stature and physical strength than by courage and skill in the use of arms. A rebuke from his father determined him to avoid all frivolity and immorality of life, and with iron will he persisted through life in attaining to a high moral character. He participated in the expedition to the Holy Land undertaken by the elector Frederick the Wise in 1493 (concerning which see Spalatin, Hist. Nachl., published by Neudecker and Preller, 1, 76), and after his return accompanied the emperor Maximilian in his German and Italian campaigns. But though he acquired the reputation of a brave and skilful soldier, he soon turned aside to the work of aiding to fit the State for the accomplishment of its great mission to promote peace and justice, and also the morality and prosperity of its subjects. His first field was in the episcopal principality of Bamberg, where he occupied the post of prime minister (Hofmeister) at the beginning of the 16th century, under the bishops Henry III and George of Limburg; and his first notable work was the introduction of a reform in the execution of capital punishments, which subsequently became the law of the empire (the so called Carolina of 1532).
While recognizing the need of reform in the State, Schwarzenberg was also convinced of the need of reform in the Church; and as he found opportunity to make himself felt for good in statesmanship, so he readily admitted the claims of duty on him from the side of religion and morality, He was thoroughly prepared for the beginning of the Reformation through zealous study of the Bible, which had, even before Luther appeared, revealed to him the vast difference between genuine Christianity and the actual life of the Church. He was profoundly impressed with the conviction that the creature owes the most perfect obedience to the will of God as revealed in Scripture, and this conviction was the leading motive of his life; but he had likewise learned to know the weakness of human nature, and therefore laid hold on the doctrines of grace in the Bible with all his heart. He naturally threw the weight of his official station, the convincing power of his speech, the iron energies of his will, and the combining and constructive powers of his statesmanship into the scale in favor of the Reformation, and thus became a most powerful instrument for promoting its success. As its progress was rather promoted than hindered by the bishop George, Bamberg soon became a stronghold for the defense and also a center from which to carry forward the extension of the evangelical cause. Schwarzenberg's influence was powerfully felt even in the administration of the empire. He had been the representative or companion of his prince in several diets, and had won a high reputation for ability. In 1522-23 he was not only a member of the regency of the empire, but its soul (see Ranke, Ref. Gesch. 2, 48 sq.); and it was that body which replied to the brief of pope Hadrian VI with a refusal to stamp out Lutheranism as he had demanded, and urged instead that the estates be convoked in some German city to institute reforms of evils conceded by the pope to exist a measure which, with some slight modifications, became an edict of the empire early in 1523, and secured a period of quiet during which the Reformation might gather strength.
While Schwarzenberg was thus laboring for the cause of religion in the political field, he was also busy in the domain of literature, and published a number of works designed for the elevation of morals among the people. The earliest of his popular writings was a poem entitled Kummertrost, which was called forth by the death of his wife in 1502. He afterwards edited a collection of minor didactic poems under the title Memorial der Tugend, and published a poem in condemnation of the practices of the robber knights, who sought occasion for quarrel that they might have opportunity for plunder, as also one denouncing the drinking usages of his countrymen. Another method adopted by him to promote virtue among the people was the publication of suitable classical works, freely rendered, and accompanied with pertinent remarks from his own pen. Among such works were Cicero's De Officiis and the first book of Tusculan Questions, the De Senectute, and the De Amicitia. Himself unacquainted with the ancient languages, he would employ scholars to translate such works into German, and afterwards would popularize them, always using the language of a master, and adding rhymes and illustrations to give more force to the book. The Teutsche Cicero was frequently republished during the 16th century.
Bishop George died in 1522 and was succeeded by bishop Wigand, who was at first undecided, then controlled by the Romish clergy, and finally (June, 1524) joined a league organized to enforce the Edict of Worms. Schwarzenberg at once took his daughter out of a convent in Bamberg, and frankly justified his conduct in a letter to the bishop by advancing his evangelical motives (published, with a preface by Andr. Osiander, Nuremb. 1524; comp. Luther's Letter to Schwarzenberg, dated Dec. 21, 1524, in De Wette, 2, 581), and at the age of more than sixty years resigned his position in the principality. The controversy which had arisen broke out in his own family. His son Christoph issued an anonymous book aimed against the Reformed teaching, and designed to counteract the determinative influence of Schwarzenberg with the whole of the numerous family, to which the latter replied in 1524 with the frequently republished Beschworung der alten teuflischen Schlanqe mit dem gottlichen Wort, a dogmatical work, intended to demolish the false authorities on which his son had built, and to set forth the teachings of the Scriptures in their purity. Some further discussion took place in this dispute, but without eliciting any additional work of importance.
After leaving Bamberg, Schwarzenberg was employed in the Franconian principalities of Brandenburg in a capacity similar to that he had just vacated. The two margraves, Casimir and George, were in sympathy with his ideas — the former through his purpose of securing a strong government, the latter through his unconditional devotion to the cause of the Reformation. Margrave George was absent from his territories, however; and when the emperor took measures to counteract the decrees of the Diet of Nuremberg, the administration of the principality became less decidedly partial to the Reformation. The Peasants' War, too, seemed to effect a change in Casimir's attitude towards the new religion. In 1526, while the Diet of Spires was in session, Schwarzenberg was at the court of duke Albert of Prussia to represent his government on the occasion of the duke's marriage (see Spies, Brandenburg Munzbelustigungen, 2, 29), and availed himself of the opportunity to plead the cause of the Reformation with king Sigismund of Poland and the bishop of Cracow. (Comp. Strobel, Job. von Schwarzenberg, zween sehr merkw Briefe [Nuremb. 1775]). Duke Albert asked permission to retain Schwarzenberg at his court, at least for a single year, but without success.
After returning to his home, Schwarzenberg demanded in the Territorial Diet, Oct. 1526, that organizations on the evangelical plan be formed, and offered suggestions towards that end. Casimir attempted to temporize, but in vain, and accordingly joined the army of king Ferdinand in Hungary, where he died, Sept. 21, 1527. Margrave George now assumed the government, and at once took decided ground in favor of the Reformation. In March, 1528, the first visitation of the churches was undertaken in connection with Nuremberg. The objections of neighboring bishops, and the warnings of king Ferdinand were disregarded, and a papal brief intended to change the margrave's attitude was returned unopened. A delegated assembly from Franconia and Nuremberg met at Schwabach June 15, and agreed on articles to govern the exclusion of unevangelical persons from the Church. A meeting between the margrave and the elector of Saxony, having relation to ecclesiastical matters, took place in October, 1528, but Schwarzenberg was unable to be present because of sickness, and on the 21st of that month he died at Nuremberg.
See Rossbach, Verfasser d. Bamb., Brandenb. u. d. heil. Reichs peinl. Gerichts, Joh. Freih. v. Schwarzenberg, in Schott's Jurist. Vochenbl. 3d year, p. 273 sq., and Longolius, Nachr. von Brandenburg-Culmbach, 4, 53 sq., who among older writers furnish isolated particulars only; Christ, De
Joh. Schwartzenbergico (Halle, 1726), has reference only to the literary activity of its subject. A very inadequate sketch of the life of Schwarzenberg, which scarcely mentions his relation to the Reformation, appeared in Jagemann and Nollner's Zeitsehr. f. deutseh. Strafverfahren, 1, 133 sq. See also Stromer, Zween sehr merkw. Briefe, already cited; Lith, Erlaut. d. Ref.-Hist. a. d. Brandenb., in Onolzbach Archiv, 1733; Ranke, Ref. Gesch. ut sup.; and especially E. Herrmann, Joh. Freih. zu Schwarzenberg, etc. (Leips. 1841). The editions of Schwarzenberg's writings are given in Godeke's Grundriss zur Gesch. d. deutschen Dichtung, 1, 214.