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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 271



X.] LEWIS AND FREDERICK. 265 when the resistance is past they are ever ready for new combinations. The struggle of the Spanish succession followed, a struggle in which ancestral right was matched against the doctrine of the balance, and the force of the stronger determined the verdict. The struggle of the Imperial succession next led on to the triumphant career of Frederick II, and that unmistakeably to the new forms of political combination and antagonism which emerged from the French Revolution. Lewis XIV and Frederick the Great impersonate the two principles, or aspects of the one principle, that might gives right; Frederick was far the greater man, of course; Frederick had rights ; he had claims old and legal on Silesia, and the old question of the Cleves Juliers inheritance had been a burning question for a century before he began to fight; and he had ideas—who so many? Lewis XIV had scarcely any plea of right for his aggressions, and his sole idea, as his sole policy, was himself, his interest and glory and that of France in him. But it all came to the same thing. Frederick knew that he was strong, and revived old pleas that his father had let slumber. Lewis knew that he was strong : the rival powers at both conjunctures were exhausted; war, policy, money, philosophy, intrigue, rights and ideas, all gave way or led on to the triumph of force. The right, the idea, the balance of power, was on the side of the strongest battalions. But now I must turn back to the Reformation, for there can be no question that, in the changes that brought about and resulted from that crisis, both rights and ideas were very strong within certain circles of their own, and to make the balance of power, the struggle of material forces, the sole lesson of this portion of history, would be a serious mistake. Yet I think even here we shall see that the principle of the idea was less operative that the principle of force, the policy


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