In 1890 he succeeded Count Herbert Bismarck as Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the Caprivi chancellorship and continued to hold that office under Prince von Hohenlohe; but he had incurred the enmity of Prince Bismarck by refusing his advice when he first assumed office, and the result was a fierce press campaign against him which finally obliged him to speak out when he appeared as a witness at the trial of certain journalists in 1896 for lese-majeste.
Griffenfeldt, who was charged with simony, bribery, oath-breaking, malversation and lese-majeste, conducted his own defence under every imaginable difficulty.
26 declares guilty of lese-majeste whomsoever shall in any way usurp or infringe the king's absolute authority.
The attacks on the king were repeated at the trial of the poet Guerra Junqueiro, who was indicted for lese-majeste.
The duration of the legislature was extended from three to five years; the liberty of the press was curtailed by the enactment that proprietors of political papers must pay to the government a deposit of 5000 dinars (£Zoo), and that the editors must have completed their studies at a university; the laws on lese-majeste were made more severe.