Germany History – The Reform Part II

Germany History – The Reform Part II

According to THEMOTORCYCLERS, the victory over religious and social radicalism strengthened the principles, but stifled the most fruitful germs of the new faith. Luther, worried about the unexpected developments of his doctrine, saw the dangers of the lack of a hierarchy and an ecclesiastical discipline: he expressly invited the evangelical princes to carry out the visitationes of the churches of their states, like, before, the bishops: that is, to take over the direction of their respective churches. Lutheranism never departed from this attitude: in political relations, in less than a decade, it had already completed its parable. From now on, its diffusion itself was essentially political: it penetrated where the prince wanted or allowed: more easily where, having broken ties with Rome, the prince himself took the place of ordinator and head of the church. Only for the imperial cities, governed by their councils, can we speak of free competition between the old and the new faith.

Still absent the Empire or impotent, as in the first diet of Speyer (1526), ​​the formation of groups of Catholic states and groups of Lutheran states was not long in coming: in Dessau (1525) there is the first Catholic nucleus (Mainz, Brandenburg, non-electoral Saxony); the year after the first Lutheran nucleus (the elector of Saxony, the young Landgrave of Hesse, and Albert of Brandenburg, passed not only from the old to the new faith, but also from the non-transmissible dignity of Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, to that, made hereditary, of Duke of Prussia under Polish sovereignty).

Lutheranism spreads: on the model of Wittenberg we proceed to the organization of churches (reformatio ecclesiae) in the county of Mansfeld, in the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach, in the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, in the cities of Hamburg, Brunswick, Magdeburg, then always faithful and sometimes heroic citadel of Lutheranism. Not perfect unity, however, in the evangelical field: the Alsatian and Swabian cities, then fervent centers of German life (Strasbourg, Ulm, Kempten, Essligen, Constance, etc., as well as Nuremberg), gravitated around Zurich and Zwingli, his prophet; precisely in these years, 1527-29, the dispute between the two champions of Wittenberg and Zurich was bitter, at times angry, with pamphlets. Contrast of two mentalities, of which the controversial point, the interpretation of transubstantiation, real (for Luther), symbolic (for Zwingli) was the expression: one good subject of the elector of Saxony; the other, son of the common citizen of Zurich. In vain at the Marburg conference, Landgrave Philip of Hesse, the only true political personality of the Evangelicals, tried to heal the dissension between Lutherans and Zwinglians deliberates of the second diet of Speyer (1529), in which i Protestants had presented the famous protest. Luther and Melanchthon were irreducible: “You have another spirit” they said, addressing Zwingli, Jacob Sturm, Ecolampadio. Thus the evangelicals did not appear united to the Augsburg diet (1530), which, after nine years of absence from Germany, presided over by Charles V himself: the famous Confessio written by Melanchthon was signed only by the Protestants of the previous year, more Nuremberg and Reutlingen; but not from the southern cities, of which only some, in the course of time, adhered; while four, including Strasbourg, presented a separate confessio (tetrapolitan). And in that historic meeting, the Protestant princes were seen following Charles V in the Corpus Domini procession: and Melanchthon – but not Luther – willing to yield and to agree with Rome, rather than with the sacraments. The emperor seemed determined to act severely, according to the deliberations of the diet: to revoke, even by force, the arbitrary “reforms” of individual princes and cities. The Margrave of Hesse sees the inevitability of the conflict. He wrote the very significant words of a new political mentality to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach: “A prince has to answer only to his subjects and to the future, even at the cost of having to oppose the imperial majesty”, and he works hard to expand the Protestant union. The Protestant defensive league of Smalcalda (1531) was his work:smalcalda). As a shrewd politician, he has no scruples in attempting approaches to Catholic powers: France, England, Venice and especially to the very Catholic Duke of Bavaria, a family rival of the Habsburgs by tradition. Precisely with French help and in hatred of the Habsburgs, who had seized the duchy from him, he managed to bring the proscribed Duke of Württemberg back to his lands (1534) and, with him, Protestantism also in this part of Germany.

In essence, the vain threats of the Augusta diet did more good than harm to the Protestant cause. Augusta and Hanover decidedly pass to Protestantism; not unlike the Dukes of Pomerania (1534). The disagreement between Strasbourg and Wittenberg also subsides: in the 1540 edition of the Augustan confession Melanchthon adopted some of M. Butzer’s points of view. The emperor, forced to use the gentle way with the states, in order not to alienate their help especially against the Turks, put forward the idea of ​​a council, which was not very welcome to Protestants, France and England. And in fact for that time the council will not be held: first called in Mantua (1537), then in Vicenza, from extension to extension, it will not open, the Protestants and even most of the German Catholics absent, until 1545 in Trent. Once the storm is over,anabaptists ; bokelzoon, Jan), the two parties consolidate their positions: Catholics are joining forces. The Protestants respond (1538) by welcoming the king of Denmark and the Margrave of Brandenburg-Küstrin into the union. The following year the same elector of Brandenburg, Joachim II, passes to the Reformation, and, another serious matter for the Catholic cause, George, the non-electoral Duke of Saxony, dies and is succeeded by his brother Henry, a sympathizer for the Reformed.

Germany History - The Reform 2

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