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date: 28 April 2017

The Reformation and the Establishment of Lutheranism in the Holy Roman Empire

Summary and Keywords

Martin Luther was a subject of the Elector of Saxony in the Holy Roman Empire. His emergence as a reformer was made possible by the sponsorship he received in Wittenberg. He owed his survival to the protection afforded him by the Elector when Emperor Charles V outlawed him and ordered that the papal ban of excommunication be enforced in the empire. The audience to which Luther appealed was the general population of German Christians, both lay and ecclesiastical, who wanted a reform of the church and the reduction of the pope’s influence over it. That his appeal resonated so widely and so profoundly had much to do with a combination of crises that had developed in the empire from the 15th century. That his reform proposals resulted in the formation of a new church owed everything to the political structures of the empire. These facilitated the suppression of radical challenges to Luther’s position. They also thwarted every effort Charles V made over several decades to ensure that the empire remained Catholic. Lutheranism became entwined with the idea of German liberty; as a result, its survival was secured in the constitution of the empire, first in 1555 and then in 1648.

Keywords: Martin Luther, Charles V, Elector of Saxony, Ferdinand I, Maximilian I, Reformation, Peasants’, War, Schmalkaldic League, Schmalkaldic War, Peace of Augsburg

An Empire in Crisis?

“All scripture and religious teaching is ignored; the whole world lives in darkest night; people blindly persist in sinful behaviour; all streets and alleys are full of fools.”1 The hugely popular moral satire published in 1494 by the Basel professor of law Sebastian Brant portrayed the society of his day as a “ship of fools.” His work of that title, an epic poem comprising 112 chapters, frequently republished and translated, is a devastating critique of his contemporaries, and it left virtually no institution unscathed.

What Brant reflected in his work was a general sense of uncertainty that affected the lands of the Holy Roman Empire around 1500. Everywhere one looks, one encounters the word “reform” or reformatio. This was related most often to the state of the empire and of the church, but it also denoted something much broader. Many commentators were convinced that the whole world was out of joint. God’s order had been subverted, and the world was ruled by the devil. Reform was essential if mankind was to be redeemed. It meant different things to different people, but in almost every case it involved returning to a just and natural order of things. The empire should once more be as it had been under the Hohenstaufen. The church should once more be as it had been in the time of the Apostles.

It is difficult to identify precisely the sources of these anxieties. Similar sentiments were sometimes expressed elsewhere in Europe, but they assumed a particular intensity in the German lands. Reform of the empire and the church, for which the Germans of the empire believed they held a particular responsibility, had been discussed intensively there ever since the later 14th century. The church reform discussions had aimed to overcome the Great Schism of 1378–1417/1449 and to combat the Hussite heresies, but they had finally stalled in 1439. Meanwhile, the long reign of Frederick III (r. 1452–1493), who rarely left his Austrian lands and was largely preoccupied with his ambition to gain control over Bohemia and Hungary and to secure Burgundy for his son, generated concern about lawlessness and insecurity in the empire.

Many historians have identified a wider social and economic dimension to these preoccupations.2 Some even speak of a general crisis of German society in the early 16th century. The evidence is far from clear. Overall, the period after 1470 was characterized by steady growth. The population finally recovered from the Black Death and prices began to rise. The hugely profitable mining industry made great strides in many parts of Middle and Upper Germany, which in turn stimulated numerous other crafts and trades. Population growth and prosperity created demand for foodstuffs and fostered the development of new rural industries in many areas, especially in textiles.

Many groups profited from these developments, but others lost out and, progressively, the gulf between winners and losers widened. Where lords eagerly seized the new opportunities to make profits on foodstuffs, peasants were obliged to work harder and resented not being able to market their produce themselves. Some large cities and some towns prospered; others stagnated or declined because they were not close to key resources or were bypassed by new trading and commercial routes. Owners of shares in mines reaped rich rewards, but the miners resented the long hours, harsh conditions, and low wages. Rural industry benefited many peasants, but it also opened up divides between haves and have-nots, between rural operatives and urban managers or brokers. New industries frequently placed pressure on the traditional guilds. Where territorial rulers sought to strengthen their hold on their lands, peasants were frequently subjected to higher taxation or deprived of access to communal forests or of the right to hunt and fish freely. Formerly free knights found themselves forced to become subjects of powerful neighboring princes. And where the landlord or prince was also a cleric—an abbot or a bishop—the grievance often appeared particularly acute and gave rise to accusations that the servant of the church was the greatest oppressor of his fellow men.

Not all discontent was economic and social in origin, especially where the church was concerned.3 Complaints against the church had been articulated in gravamina, or catalogues of grievances, presented at imperial diets since the early 15th century. Common themes were the corruption of Rome and the papacy’s exploitation of taxation of the laity. The latter was especially heavy in Germany because of the absence of a central authority to resist it. It was well known that the money was used for worldly purposes. Furthermore, the growing practice of selling indulgences, which some practitioners turned into a major commercial enterprise, seemed to underline the rapacity of Rome and its betrayal of Christian principles.

Two other developments swelled the ranks of those critical of the church. First, renewal movements in the Benedictine and Augustinian orders from the early 15th century disseminated new practices of piety, as did the spread of the ideas of the Devotio Moderna from the Low Countries, a series of lay communities founded at Deventer in 1380.4 Those who followed these movements were deeply pious but also critical of the church as an institution. They expressed their devotions in cults of saints and their shrines, in the endowment of masses, or in pilgrimage movements. Many also became increasingly alienated from the formal ecclesiastical structures of the church or more interested in communal involvement in its affairs, especially the appointment of pastors or the management of church funds.

Second, the development of humanism gave a new intellectual framework both to opposition to Rome and to communal Christianity.5 In 1472 the publication of Tacitus’s Germania, from an ancient manuscript rediscovered in the 1420s, was perfect material for the humanist agenda of a return to origins, and it gave ample ammunition to critics of the papacy. Papal apologists claimed that Tacitus’s history showed how much the primitive Germans owed to Rome; German humanists countered that the Germans were an indigenous people, whose ancestry long predated the Romans or even the Greeks. They owed little to Rome, which had done nothing but exploit them and limit their natural freedom. Liberation from Rome became an obsession for some German humanists, and their writings provided powerful arguments for reform both of the empire and of the church.

The clamor of voices demanding change had numerous sources. They were united, however, as no movement had previously been by the new medium of print.6 The invention of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz around 1439 had already begun to revolutionize communications and the dissemination of knowledge and opinion by 1500. Literacy was still confined to a minority, but complex ideas were already being popularized in simple pamphlets and broadsheets, many of them illustrated for greater effect. The real print revolution exploded only in the 1520s, but the printing of Bibles and devotional literature for the common man was already a flourishing business from the 1470s. Indeed, the bulk of what was printed was in one way or another religious.

Imperial Reform

Despite the growing focus on the church, the first reform initiatives were directed at the empire. The accession of Maximilian I (r. 1493–1519) as emperor, seven years after his election as King of the Romans or heir apparent, brought new perspectives and a new energy to imperial politics. Owing to his father’s efforts, Maximilian was heir to lands in Burgundy as well as in Austria. He was ambitious to consolidate these, but he also aspired to restore what had been lost in Italy and in Provence. He presented himself as the “last knight” and surrounded himself with humanists, such as Conrad Celtis, who would promote his image and extol his ancient lineage. He was an exceedingly image-conscious monarch, interested in the potential of the new print media as well as in the propagandistic power of literature and traditional art.7

Consolidating his lands on the western and the eastern peripheries of the empire and reconquering lost territory required resources beyond what Maximilian had at his disposal.8 He was therefore obliged to turn to the German princes and cities for money and men. But when he summoned an imperial Diet (or Reichstag) to Worms in 1495 to discuss how the Germans might support his various enterprises, he found that the German estates had other ideas. They were quite willing to contribute to the defense of the empire from attack by the Turks and the French, but they wanted nothing to do with the reconquest of Italy.

Furthermore, the German estates were unwilling to guarantee either men or money for an imperial army under Maximilian’s control: they would provide both, but only for limited periods of time as the need arose, and any armed forces would remain under their control. They also refused to have anything to do with Maximilian’s plans for developing a central government of the empire.9 They had their own proposals for the reform of the Reich, which aimed at creating greater stability and security and at preserving the liberties they had enjoyed in previous centuries. The empire would remain an elective monarchy; the princes and cities would continue to enjoy governmental authority over their own territories; and they would act collectively to guarantee the domestic peace.

The agreements reached at Worms laid the foundations for the constitution of the empire for the next three centuries. The Perpetual Peace outlawed all troublemakers; the Reichskammergericht, or imperial chamber court, was instituted to resolve all domestic disputes, including those between rulers and their subjects; the imperial Diet (Reichstag) was designated as sovereign, a place where law was made jointly by Kaiser und Reich; a basic tax, the gemeiner Pfennig, was agreed to finance the Reichskammergericht (though this was later dropped).

Subsequent Diets elaborated on these structures, particularly by establishing Kreise or regional associations of territories that would enforce the judgments of the chamber court and organize the mobilization of men and money as required. These associations soon acquired further functions, for example the regulation of the currency, while the central body established by the estates in 1500 failed after two years because the emperor opposed the idea of a government independent of him. Overall, however, despite the power and prestige that the emperor retained, the estates emerged as the winners of this renegotiation of the polity. That was reflected in the new title they now insisted on for the empire: no longer just the Holy Roman Empire, but the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

Maximilian’s wings had been clipped. While he was able to defend the empire (i.e., “German” soil), his campaigns in Italy and Provence failed and simply plunged him into hopeless debt. On his last visit to Innsbruck in 1518, his officials threatened to resign unless they were paid what they were owed. Even the innkeepers refused to accommodate his retinue because they were still owed 24,000 gulden from his previous visits. By the time he died in 1519, Maximilian owed more than 6 million gulden.

The transition from Maximilian I to Charles V (r. 1519–1556) in 1519 was accompanied by a general sense of unrest and of anticipated change.10 A vague expectation that something would soon happen became focused on the year 1524. Since 1499 astrologers had been predicting that a great flood would engulf the world, for in February of that year all the planets were due to meet in the sign of Pisces. As the momentous juncture approached, the astrologers modified their view, for a flood would have violated God’s promise to Noah, but they remained convinced that some great disaster would occur. In 1523 no fewer than fifty printed works were devoted to predicting the nature of this disaster. Some in fact foretold a general uprising of the peasantry. And some peasant rebels in Alsace later justified their behavior by declaring they were merely acting in accordance with God’s will as inscribed in the stars.

The Early Reformation in Germany

In the meantime, a religious movement had developed in the empire that would fundamentally transform not only the confessional landscape but also the German constitution and shape the course of German politics for the next three centuries. Martin Luther’s challenge to the practice of indulgences in October 1517 marked the turning point in a protracted personal odyssey played out amid the diverse religious currents of the time.11 Very soon the specific issue became the core of a fundamental debate: the question of whether man’s salvation could be guaranteed by the church (or sold to the individual by the church by means of an indulgence), or whether the individual Christian was responsible for his or her own salvation by means of faith in God and God’s teaching. Luther’s emphasis on the sufficiency of the faith of the individual Christian implicitly challenged the role of the church, and led many to reject it altogether. It seemed clear that Christians needed neither popes nor bishops, but simply well-organized and sincere Christian communities.

The resistance of the church authorities rapidly inspired Luther to broaden his appeal to the German nation as a whole. When Rome itself condemned Luther, many immediately made him into a figurehead for the redress of their own grievances against the church. Luther himself remained defiant. When the papacy demanded on June 15, 1520 that he recant his heretical views and that his books be burned, Luther himself publicly burned the printed version of the papal bull, together with volumes of canon law and the works of his opponents, in front of the town gate in Wittenberg.

Through these acts and through the dissemination of his three great Reformation tracts of 1520, Luther’s ideas became widely known. His status as a national hero was sealed when he appeared before the emperor at the imperial Diet (Reichstag) on April 17 and 18, 1521 and publicly stood by his views.12 The emperor had no option but to carry out his threat to outlaw Luther. Luther’s immediate overlord, Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony, did not dissent from the imperial decree. At the same time, however, he was not inclined to enforce it and was content for his officials to arrange to have Luther kidnapped and taken to Wartburg castle by Eisenach in the Weimar duchy ruled by his younger brother Johann. While the emperor and princes argued over what to do about the renegade monk, however, his ideas had spawned a popular movement that gained ground with lightning speed.

The new religious teaching was taken up enthusiastically by urban and rural communities and by discontented people in many parts of the empire who believed that the new interpretation of the gospels provided theological sanction for their complaints.13 Many went much further than Luther ever intended, aspiring to create a kingdom of God on earth, for which they first had to overturn the existing order. In 1521 the so-called Zwickau prophets, Luther’s former colleagues Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt and his fellow Augustinian Gabriel Zwilling, attempted a radical reform, which brought Luther himself out of hiding to restore order. In 1522 an uprising of knights attempted to halt the growth of territorial states in the Upper Rhineland, Swabia, and Franconia. Meanwhile, through the first half of the decade numerous towns and cities, especially in Upper Germany, had embraced the Reformation.14 All of these events created a sense of ferment characterized variously by enthusiasm and hopes for a new beginning on the one hand, and by uncertainty, anxiety, and threat on the other. They were, however, overshadowed by the uprising of peasants in 1524–1525, which culminated in a declaration of war on all lords and princes led by Luther’s former colleague Thomas Müntzer.

The Peasants’ War

“The blood that has been shed this year 1525,” noted the Swiss pastor and chronicler Johannes Stumpf, would be enough to “drown … all tyrants.”15 His words aptly reflected the impact of the greatest peasant uprising in German history. Leopold von Ranke judged it to be the “greatest natural occurrence” or “act of God” in the life of the “German state.” Karl Marx deemed it the “most radical fact of German history,” while Friedrich Engels saw in it the “most dramatic attempt at a revolution ever perpetrated by the German people.”

At the height of the uprising, as many as 300,000 peasants may have been involved. In Württemberg, for example, nearly 70 percent of all men capable of bearing arms joined the rebels. A whole series of uprisings stretched from Alsace in the west across to Tyrol and Salzburg in the east, and from the Swiss Alps in the south to the heart of Thuringia in the north. Perhaps as many as 100,000 were killed before peace was restored.

The war was not a single event but rather a series of local and regional uprisings. With the exception of the final upheavals in the Habsburg Tyrol, they were mostly concentrated in areas which were fragmented, dominated by small lordships and ecclesiastical lands rather than by larger princely territories. What ultimately gave the uprisings coherence and unity was the formulation of the discontents that provoked them in a series of articles with which peasants and others from diverse regions could identify. These articles, in turn, loosely inspired a number of visions of a better future in which all grievances had been redressed and the world set to godly rights.

The movement was short-lived. In the spring of 1525 the authorities in many areas were so intimidated by the peasant forces that they showed a willingness to negotiate. Just a few months later, however, the peasant armies collapsed under the onslaught of the superior forces of the princes.

The diverse grievances that exploded in 1525 had deep roots. The growing economic pressures of the later 15th century had provoked various forms of peasant resistance. They developed communal structures in the villages which attempted to safeguard communal rights and to negotiate grievances with landlords. But, increasingly, their frustration boiled over into violence. From the 1470s peasant rebellion intensified in the Swiss cantons. In Alsace and southern Germany, sporadic and localized uprisings became more frequent from the 1490s as peasants adopted the symbol of the Bundschuh, the peasants’ laced boot, and began to talk not of restoring the “good old law” but of instituting “godly law,” which would right the wrongs being done to them by their lords.

These various discontents came to a head in the early 1520s, when the popular evangelical movements aggravated the uncertainty and restlessness that many claimed to read in the stars. By 1523 the evangelical preaching movement had spread across the whole empire. Despite the hostility of many rulers, the new teachings spread relentlessly, first to the urban centers and then into the villages. It is difficult to say exactly how the message was understood. On the one hand, the intricacies of theology cannot have had much meaning for the typical “common man.” On the other hand, some key terms and demands would have resonated with the experiences of village life: the priesthood of all believers, the centrality of the Christian community, the need to live a Christian life under Christian laws. These were all precepts that ordinary people could apply to their own lives, albeit often in literal ways that the religious reformers had not envisaged.

Both Martin Luther and Huldrich Zwingli, the Zurich pastor whose theological views were dominant in southern Germany, inspired the rebels. Luther later condemned the peasants’ rebellion. Yet his earlier advocacy of the communal election of pastors served as justification for the demands that many communes made for control over their churches and clergy. Similarly, his criticisms of the old church reinforced the anticlericalism of those who refused to pay tithes and who rebelled against ecclesiastical lords. Criticism of ecclesiastical authority, both doctrinal and seigneurial, led easily to the criticism of all authority. Zwingli also did not condone the rebellion, but his teaching that the Gospels should be the yardstick for the reform of polity and society provided a framework for the formulation of virtually any catalogue of grievances.

The uprising began as a series of localized protests in southwestern Germany and Switzerland. It soon spread to Swabia, and from there to Franconia, and finally to Thuringia. Initially, the peasants engaged in tithe strikes and refused to render ordinary feudal dues; some demanded the right of the community to choose its own pastor; others demanded the restoration of the “old laws” that had been usurped by the lords. By the end of 1524, the peasants began to justify their protests with reference to the Gospels. This became a key feature of the uprisings in Swabia, where the peasants of the abbot of Kempten formed themselves into a “Christian union” devoted to the pursuit of justice according to divine law as laid down in the Bible. At Memmingen a combination of reformed townspeople and peasant leaders drew up the Twelve Articles, which were soon published. With twenty-five editions within two months and perhaps as many as 25,000 copies, their impact was immense.

The Twelve Articles clearly linked the peasants’ grievances with the evangelical cause.16 They asserted the right of all communities to elect and to dismiss their own pastors; they wanted to abolish serfdom, for Christ’s sacrifice had rendered all men free; at the same time, they declared that the peasants would subject themselves obediently to lawful authority. All the demands of the peasants were rendered absolute by the insistence that rural life be regulated according to the Word of God.

An attempt by the regional princes to crush the uprising failed in April 1525, and the rebels were offered a truce and a tribunal to investigate their grievances. After a brief lull, however, there was renewed discontent to the west, in the Black Forest region, Alsace, Württemberg, and the Rheingau; and soon afterward, the first outbreak of violence occurred to the north in Franconia, and finally in Thuringia. While the Upper Swabian peasants had sought a peaceful accommodation with the lords, the Franconians declared war on them. For a short time they even seemed poised to achieve fundamental political reform, and plans emerged for a kind of parliament of the peasants and for a general “reformation” of the Reich.

Those plans in turn were swept away by the Thuringian uprising, which soon assumed a millenarian character. In March 1525 the radical preachers Heinrich Pfeiffer and Thomas Müntzer had effectively taken over the Mühlhausen city council and prepared to launch their crusade outside the city. In an appeal to the people of Allstedt at the end of April, Müntzer urged them to rally for the final struggle. There could be no talk of God, he declared, while the tyrants still ruled. The new covenant must rise up to destroy them.

Now the tide finally turned against the rebels. In early April Luther had sympathized with the peasants and had criticized the arrogant princes. In early May he denounced the murderous and robbing peasants. The authorities also acted decisively. In the second half of May forces raised by the princes routed the peasants in Swabia, Alsace, and finally in Thuringia. At Frankenhausen on May 15, Philip of Hessen and the duke of Saxony slaughtered more than 5,000 peasant rebels and took 600 prisoners. Müntzer himself was captured after the battle; he was tortured and beheaded at Mühlhausen on May 27.

By the middle of July, order had been more or less restored throughout the empire. Only in the Habsburg lands did a final wave of insurgency linger on.17 Starting in Tyrol in May 1525, under the leadership of the bishop of Brixen’s secretary and tax collector Michael Gaismair, it spread south to Trent and north to Innsbruck, developing a program of ninety-six grievances. The movement soon foundered under its own internal contradictions, however, as the coalition of discontents expanded to embrace miners and rural and urban day laborers in addition to propertied peasants. The timely publication of a “Territorial Constitution for the County of Tyrol,” which addressed the complaints of the people, undermined the opposition. Gaismair’s attempt to incite a second Tyrolean rebellion in spring 1526 failed. Despite all his efforts, the contemporaneous uprisings in Tyrol, Salzburg, Brixen, Trent, Graubünden, and Chur did not unite into an Alpine revolution. The German, Austrian, and Swiss uprisings never transcended their localized roots.

Political Responses to the Reformation

The scale and extent of the unrest that swept across the southern and central areas of the empire between 1524 and 1526 took the authorities everywhere by surprise. For a while the rebellions seemed so overwhelming that there was little point in resisting them. In every theater, though, once nerves had been recovered and resources marshalled, the peasants were crushed. The role of Luther now also changed. He remained a central figure, of course. He was consulted on all major matters by the other reformers, such as Philip Melanchthon and Johannes Bugenhagen; their activities in establishing educational and welfare systems or in establishing Lutheran churches throughout the empire and in Denmark, Sweden, and elsewhere would have been unthinkable without their association with Luther. Similarly, all manner of rulers and the league of Protestant estates, the Schmalkaldic League, which emerged after 1530, consulted Luther frequently. Yet the real decisions were now made by others, primarily by Protestant princes. Luther was no longer the prime initiator or driver, but rather the commentator on and legitimator of initiatives taken by others.

The authorities were quick to take action after the defeat of the peasants. In 1526 the Imperial Diet discussed measures to criminalize all peasant resistance.18 Yet it also discussed the need for reform and advocated measures designed to improve the peasants’ fortunes. The peasants were roundly defeated but, overall, they won a good deal. The fear of another uprising ensured that German rulers were now more considerate of their subjects and acted as a powerful incentive to princes to moderate their behavior until the dissolution of the empire in 1806.

Yet the apparently firm action taken also raises an important question about the response of both territorial governments and the empire to the Reformation. Why was the popular evangelical movement not extinguished at the outset? Why did it take nearly a decade following Luther’s denunciation of indulgences before the political authorities were able to contain and control it?

Maximilian I’s death in January 1519 was followed by an eighteen-month interregnum which created an atmosphere of great uncertainty in the empire. The electors had agreed to elect the old emperor’s grandson Charles at the end of June 1519, but he was unable to travel to Germany to be crowned until October 1520. He only summoned his first Diet (Reichstag) the following spring.

This slow beginning reflected the complexity of Charles V’s situation and, ironically, revealed a weakness that resulted from the position of immense power that he occupied. Where Maximilian had a dual focus on both the east and the west, Charles was decidedly western. Born in Ghent and educated in Brussels, he became duke of Burgundy in 1515 and inherited the Spanish crown (with Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and the overseas possessions) from his maternal grandfather in 1516. Acquiring the German imperial crown in 1519 seemed to him and his advisers to open up the prospect of a new world empire. Yet controlling its various individual component parts was never easy. Facing rebellion in Spain, his most important source of income, Charles was absent from Germany between 1522 and 1530 (and again between 1532 and 1540).

These absences hindered the new emperor’s aspiration to impose his authority on Germany. At the Diet in 1521, Charles declared his intention to protect the church at all costs. Yet his decision to outlaw Luther was thwarted by the Elector of Saxony’s determination to protect his subject. Furthermore, some princes actively sympathized with the new teaching and were determined to defend it and even to promote it in the interests of the better management of the parishes and other church institutions in their lands. Above all, the German estates were united in their opposition to any authority imposed by the emperor unilaterally. Typically, they soon rallied around the same evasive position: nothing should be decided or done until a general council of the church had been convened to discuss the complaints made against it, or at least a specifically German council that would deal with the gravamina of the German nation.

Charles attempted in vain to manage these issues from a distance.19 He appointed his brother Ferdinand, who had inherited Maximilian’s Austrian lands, as his regent in Germany, but he was rarely willing to allow him much discretion. He actually complied with the terms of Maximilian’s testament and transferred ownership of the Austrian territories to his brother only in 1522. He then promised to secure Ferdinand’s election as heir apparent but did nothing about it until 1530. Charles seemed to do all he could to frustrate his brother’s ambitions. And both Charles and Ferdinand were increasingly reliant on the German estates for help with their campaigns against the Ottomans and the French. This merely strengthened the bargaining power of the German princes and cities.

They meanwhile took the initiative to prevent anarchy engulfing their cities and territories.20 In 1521 the Diet had reluctantly agreed to support Charles’s edict against Luther, but then did nothing to enforce it. Three years later Charles forbade the convocation of a German national council. The shock of the Peasants’ War in 1525 was decisive. Luther realized that he needed the support and protection of the princes. The result was the German Lutheran territorial church system.21

In 1526 the Diet again demanded a national council and resolved that in the meantime each ruler should proceed according to his conscience. The Peasants’ War persuaded a number of princes that the only way to master the Lutheran cause was to embrace it. By 1529 the Diet was trying to stem the spread of Protestantism by reaffirming the Edict of Worms and by prohibiting those who had embraced the new teaching from any further innovation. Fourteen princes and cities made a public protest against this—they were the first to be known as “Protestants.”

When Charles V returned to Germany in 1530, flushed with victory against France and recently crowned by the pope in Bologna, he believed the time had come to deal with Germany once and for all.22 He demanded that the Protestants declare their beliefs. The Protestant Augsburg Confession was countered by the Catholic Confutatio, and Charles ruled that the Confutatio should prevail. Faced with the prospect of the Edict of Worms being executed against them, the Protestants formed a defensive league at Schmalkalden.23 While Charles was once more absent from Germany from 1532 and Ferdinand remained dependent on the Protestants for military assistance against the Ottomans, who had besieged Vienna again in 1529, the Protestant alliance deepened, as did its sense of mission in the defense of German liberty against a tyrannical monarch. At the same time, however, the fact that rulers such as Philip of Hessen were moving swiftly to secure control of church institutions and to take over the educational and welfare functions formerly exercised by the church made it increasingly difficult to envisage any outcome that meant going back to the old system. Among the secular territories, only the Habsburg lands and Bavaria remained unequivocally Catholic, alongside the bishoprics and the imperial monasteries that made up the imperial church. Catholicism in the empire seemed threatened.

Charles V’s Assault on Protestantism in Germany and the Peace of Augsburg

When Charles V returned to Germany in 1540, he was determined to destroy the Protestant alliance by any possible means.24 In the first instance he tried negotiation. The idea of convening a general council of the church ran into trouble on a number of counts. Both the papacy and France opposed a proposal that might further enhance Habsburg power. The German Protestant princes were also opposed since attending such a council would oblige them at least implicitly to acknowledge the authority of a papal vicar general, and hence of the pope himself. Since a purely German national church council was unthinkable, the emperor and his advisers turned to the idea of trying to reconcile theological differences between the opposing parties in the empire. Yet religious colloquies held at Hagenau, Worms, and Regensburg in 1540 and 1541 resolved nothing; both Luther and Charles V rejected the really significant compromise proposals broached in them. Even the fact that Charles V had done a deal with Philip of Hessen, promising to take no action about Philip’s bigamous marriage with Margarete von der Saale in return for Philip’s promise not to oppose a compromise at Regensburg, did not help.

The failure of talks aimed at reconciliation and compromise left military force as the emperor’s only option. The geopolitical situation seemed favorable. Charles had made peace with France in 1544. The papacy promised to finance his campaign in the empire. He had even managed to persuade the Protestant Albertine Duke Moritz of Saxony (r. 1541–1547 as duke, 1547–1553 as elector) to pledge his support in return for the promise, made secretly, of the electoral crown held by his Ernestine kinsman. The pretext for war was the illegal action taken by the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hessen against Duke Henry of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in 1542, aggravated by the steps taken to establish Protestantism in the duchy and Duke Henry’s imprisonment at Ziegenhain in Hessen in 1545. Ostensibly coming to the assistance of the Imperial City of Goslar and the largely independent town of Brunswick, both of which Henry had attacked on account of their embrace of Protestantism, Saxony and Hessen really aimed to drive the last powerful Catholic loyalist prince out of northern Germany.

The emperor quite properly moved to defend Duke Henry, but also to smash the Schmalkaldic League. Hostilities began in July 1546. By April 1547 the combined imperial and Ernestine Saxon armies had defeated the opposition. The Elector Johann Friedrich (r. 1532–1554) was captured at Mühlberg; Philip of Hessen was captured shortly afterward. Johann Friedrich was initially condemned to death because he refused to submit to the emperor’s authority in the religious question. But, together with Philip of Hessen, he was subsequently transferred to the custody of the duke of Alba in the Netherlands. The Saxon electoral title, however, was transferred to his Albertine kinsman Duke Moritz, the “Judas of Meissen,” together with the core electoral lands around Wittenberg.

If Charles’s actions seemed vindictive, he was nonetheless restrained in some respects by the knowledge that he had to make a peace work. In this respect it is perhaps significant that in May 1547 he publicly honored Luther’s memory by sparing him the posthumous shame and humiliation inflicted on John Wycliffe. When imperial forces occupied Wittenberg after the battle of Mühlberg, the emperor visited the Reformer’s grave but ignored the entreaties of Spanish and Roman envoys to execute the heresy judgment of 1519 by exhuming and publicly incinerating Luther’s corpse.

Even so, in practical terms the outcome of the conflict seemed clear. The emperor now appeared invincible. His troops controlled virtually the whole of the empire, certainly more of it than any predecessor had done. Furthermore, in personal terms he now also apparently enjoyed preeminent stature in Europe as a whole. The deaths of Luther (September 18, 1546), Henry VIII (January 28, 1547), and Francis I (March 31, 1547) removed all his old rivals from the stage. Suleiman the Magnificent, his last remaining adversary, concluded a five-year truce in 1547 in order to pursue a campaign in Persia.

In the flush of victory, Charles moved quickly to secure his hold on the empire. Yet the Imperial Diet which sat at Augsburg from September 1, 1547 until June 30, 1548, known as the “armor-clad Diet,” made clear the limits of his options. The German estates were deeply suspicious of a powerful emperor, and both Protestants and Catholics opposed Charles’s plan to create an “imperial league” to bring peace to the empire. Further, the papacy viewed with suspicion any attempt to negotiate with the Protestants, and indeed the pope had withdrawn his troops from Germany as early as February 1547: a strong emperor was not in his interest either.

Since little progress was being made by the church council at Trent, Charles felt impelled to take action on his own. He announced a twenty-two-point plan for the reform of the German bishoprics. He also promulgated his own compromise, the so-called Augsburg Interim, which made important concessions to the Protestants.25 This code of religious practice permitted both clerical marriage and communion under both kinds. However, the Mass was reintroduced, albeit with the offertory interpreted as an act of remembrance and thanks rather than as an act of propitiation. More remarkable still, the Interim made significant statements on matters of dogma such as justification by faith, the veneration of saints, and the authority of scripture. Even such details as the practice of fasting were touched upon, and justified pragmatically with the argument that if fasting ceased there would not be sufficient meat to feed the whole population.

The emperor’s original aim had been to devise a formula to which both Catholics and Protestants in the Reich could subscribe. A committee of theologians that he had commissioned with the task had failed to reach agreement. The proposal he put forward, only edited and lightly amended by the theologians, represented nothing less than a new hybrid imperial religion, which he was determined to impose upon the German estates. The immediate objections of the Catholic estates led to its being restricted to the Protestants. At root the Catholics could not accept the emperor’s authority to resolve all the doctrinal disputes of the previous three decades. The Protestant estates believed that the Interim demanded too much in return for relatively minor concessions. Both sides viewed with grave concern the power-political implications of a settlement imposed by the emperor. Only Charles and his advisers, it seemed, really believed that the Interim could not only bring peace to Germany but also provide the winning formula for the general church council.

Nothing revealed the limits of the emperor’s powers in Germany more than the struggle over the implementation of the Interim. The electors of the Palatinate and of Brandenburg and the duke of Julich refused to have anything to do with it. Even the Elector of Saxony held back, first claiming that he had to consult his estates and then publishing a much watered-down version as the Leipzig Interim. Other Protestant rulers prevaricated or implemented only meaningless provisions in a sham show of compliance. In southern Germany, the emperor was able to use force. The duke of Württemberg complied when Charles mobilized troops to invade his territory. The Upper German Imperial Cities, among the first territories to adopt Lutheranism in the 1520s, resisted at first but then had new constitutions imposed upon them by the emperor. Hundreds of preachers fled into exile, among them Martin Bucer, who found refuge in Cambridge, where he died in 1551. Even here the Interim did not endure, though the new constitutions did survive until the dissolution of the empire in 1806.

Overall, Charles V’s attempt to impose a Pax Carolina on the empire merely inspired rebellion against him. Soon the new Elector of Saxony placed himself at the head of a cross-confessional alliance of German princes to resist the threat of a new “Spanish tyranny,” as the pamphlets described it. In March 1552 Moritz’s forces took Augsburg and marched on to Linz. The emperor himself only narrowly escaped over the Brenner pass to Villach. Meanwhile, his brother Ferdinand, regent in the empire, agreed to talks which led to the Treaty of Passau in August 1552: a truce until the next meeting of the Imperial Diet.

In the event, Charles V met his match. The struggle against the Protestants and their ultimate victory over him in 1553 resulted in the Peace of Augsburg.26 This agreement, negotiated by Ferdinand on behalf of his brother, reaffirmed the constitutional principles developed in the reign of Maximilian I and the decisions made in 1526 concerning the religious rights of princes and city magistrates. It also precipitated Charles’s abdication as emperor in favor of Ferdinand in 1556. The great dream of an empire spanning both the Old World and the New had collapsed. The liberties of the German nation emerged triumphant.

Instability within the Lutheran world, Stabilization in the Empire

While the Peace of Augsburg defused the crisis in the empire, Lutherans faced a new period of uncertainty. The punishment of the Elector Johann Friedrich after his defeat in 1547 left a bitter legacy of resentment, and neither he nor his successors were ever reconciled to the loss of the electoral title.27 Equally they were determined to maintain their claim, as protectors of Luther and patrons of the Reformation, to represent true Lutheranism. The injustice of their situation was broadcast in a determined propaganda offensive, in which the former elector was presented as a martyr for the cause of Protestantism. Even Titian’s 1548 portrait of him shows the left side of his face clearly marked by the wound he had received at Mühlberg the previous year. Prints of a similar image were hung in all churches in the Ernestine lands with the injunction that Christians should pray for the imprisoned duke. In 1552 Cranach the Younger used the image to portray him as a Christian martyr: seated at a table wearing a biretta and holding a book, opposite a crucifix, his prominent left-side wound juxtaposed to that on Christ’s right side. Johann Friedrich became the “arch-martyr” of the Ernestine dynasty.

Incarceration did not condemn Johann Friedrich to inactivity. Even as the Interim was being debated in Augsburg, he was plotting his counter-offensive. Wittenberg was now transferred to the Ernestine line; the Albertines had to establish a new court at Weimar and others later at Coburg, Eisenach, Altenburg, and Gotha. This physical relocation was to be accompanied by a translatio studii. The electoral library and archive were moved. The loss of the University of Wittenberg was compensated for by the establishment in 1548 of a Hohe Schule at Jena, which became a university in 1557. The Ernestines were determined that the Bible and the editions of Luther’s works that had formerly been printed at Wittenberg should now be printed at the press they established for that purpose in Jena. They claimed that they alone represented true Lutheranism.

Two developments threatened this position. First, the attempt of Johann Friedrich’s heir, Johann Friedrich II (r. 1554–1566/1595), to regain the electoral title by force was a disaster. Making common cause with the outlawed troublemaker Wilhelm von Grumbach was a serious tactical error. His sedition ended with his fortress at Gotha being razed to the ground and his own imprisonment in Austria until his death in 1595.

Second, the Ernestine electors energetically promoted their own claims to be the new leaders of the Lutherans. Not all the Wittenberg professors had agreed to transfer to Jena. Crucially, Philip Melanchthon refused to move. The Albertines responded by downgrading the significance of the Augsburg Confession, in whose formulation Melanchthon had played a major role, and by including Luther’s 1537 Schmalkaldic Articles in their version of the Lutheran Confessions. A bitter polemical battle now unfolded between the “Phillipists” and the so-called Gnesiolutherans (“ultra” or “pure” Lutherans), in which the latter accused the former of advocating “popish” rituals.28

Ultimately, however, the confessional struggle between the Ernestines and the Albertines was an unequal contest. The latter enjoyed a superior political status in the empire and greater resources. They also exploited the fact that between 1573 and 1586 the Albertine Elector August (r. 1553–1586) took over the administration of the Ernestine lands following the premature death of Duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar (r. 1554–1573), the younger brother of the imprisoned Duke Johann Friedrich, who left two underage sons. By 1577 a team of theologians headed by Jakob Andreae of Tübingen had completed the text of a new confession which was published at Dresden in June 1580, the fiftieth anniversary of the Augsburg Confession.

In the following years, eighty-six governments and more than eight thousand Lutheran theologians and pastors subscribed to the Formula of Concord, which became the formal repository of Lutheran doctrine for the next two and a half centuries.29 Nearly a third of all Lutheran governments, however, refused to subscribe. Ironically, many “Philippists” now wanted nothing to do with compromises that they believed were “popish”; they now aligned themselves with the Swiss Reformed tradition. Many rulers of smaller territories refused because they feared Saxony’s power and expansionist tendencies. The counts of Reuss, near neighbors of Saxony, formulated their own confession, which remained in force until the 20th century, to ensure that the elector had no reason to carry out a visitation in their territory.

In the empire as a whole, the Peace of Augsburg brought a prolonged period of stabilization.30 The confessional rights of Catholics and Protestants were guaranteed; the question of Calvinism only later became problematic. The Perpetual Peace of 1495 was extended to confessional matters; all disputes were to be dealt with by the imperial courts of law. Both Ferdinand I (r. 1558–1564) and Maximilian II (r. 1564–1576) were committed to the Peace and worked hard to avoid the mistakes made by Charles V. Their efforts were reinforced by the cooperation of the major princes. Elector August of Saxony, for whom preserving the new status quo meant safeguarding his own electoral title, was an especially strong supporter.

Traditional German historiography claimed that the Peace of Augsburg did little more than create a new framework for the ongoing confessional conflict that exploded again in the Thirty Years’ War. This view is now no longer accepted. Confessional tensions did increase throughout Europe from the mid-1570s. In the empire, Rudolf II seemed to abandon the irenic approach of his predecessors in the mid-1580s, or at least his progressive withdrawal from active involvement in favor of seclusion at Prague allowed more activist Catholic advisers to gain influence. Yet the Thirty Years’ War was not caused by the confessional situation but rather by the fear of renewed imperial ambitions that apparently threatened to transform the empire into a regular monarchy.31 The defense of German liberty was always linked with the defense of Protestantism. As in the crisis of the 1540s, the events of the period 1618–1648 showed that even Catholics ultimately rallied to the former. The outcome of the war underlined that common cause: the Treaty of Osnabrück, the German settlement of the Peace of Westphalia, once more reaffirmed what had been agreed between emperor and estates since 1495. Ultimately, that anchored the position of the Lutheran churches in the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire.

Review of the Literature

Research into the wider context of the Reformation has made enormous progress since the mid-20th century. The old preoccupation, dating back to Leopold von Ranke, with the Reformation as the cause of the division of Germany and the loss of national unity, has been abandoned. The national context of Luther’s appeal for reform has gained greater prominence. The significance of the Imperial Diet or Reichstag in making decisions which avoided a religious war is now appreciated. There is also a new understanding of the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire more generally, which provided the framework in which Lutheranism became established. A focus on the link between German liberty and Protestantism has also directed attention to the ways in which that framework was dominated by the tension between the emperor and the German princes and cities. The establishment of Lutheranism underlined the failure of Charles V to impose his will on Germany, as well as the success of the imperial estates in preserving the position of parity they had established with the monarchy in the reign of Maximilian I.

The literature devoted to these and other themes has become vast, but the short guides by Blickle, Leppin, Mörke, Schnabel-Schüle, and Schorn-Schütte listed in the “Further Reading” section are excellent starting points.32 Mörke in particular offers an outline account of the German Reformation and a comprehensive guide to recent research trends, with a wide-ranging bibliography. Reinhard Schwarz’s book on Luther is one of the clearest guides to Luther’s life and work, with a wealth of references to further reading.33 C. Scott Dixon has provided the best short account of the German Reformation in English.34 Thomas Kaufmann’s book is an excellent survey of the Reformation for those who have German.35

Many important contributions to the understanding of German politics in the first half of the 16th century have been made by the U.S. scholar Thomas A. Brady. His 2009 survey of German history in this age of reformations is the best introduction to Brady’s more specialist studies and the debates they have stimulated.

For anyone interested in the regional histories of the Reformation, the seven-volume survey of the German territories in the age of Reformation and “confessionalization” edited by Anton Schindling and Walter Ziegler will be indispensable.36 Each chapter is accompanied by a helpful note on further reading. No other work matches the wealth of detail contained in these volumes.

Heinz Schilling’s biography of Luther is the latest “standard” biography in German.37 Lyndal Roper’s biography in English is also excellent and is the ideal complement to Schilling’s study.38

Germany and the Holy Roman Empire Volume I: Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia 1493–1648 by Joachim Whaley offers a comprehensive overview in English both of recent developments in research into early modern German history and of the German Reformation in its political, social, and economic context.39

Further Reading

Blickle, Peter. Der Bauernkrieg: Revolution des Gemeinen Mannes. 4th ed. Munich: Beck, 2011.Find this resource:

Blickle, Peter. Die Reformation im Reich. 4th ed. Stuttgart: Ulmer, 2015.Find this resource:

Brady, Thomas A. German Histories in the Age of Reformations, 1400–1650. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Cameron, Euan. The European Reformation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.Find this resource:

Decot, Rolf. Geschichte der Reformation in Deutschland. Freiburg: Herder, 2015.Find this resource:

Dixon, C. Scott. The Reformation in Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Dixon, C. Scott. Contesting the Reformation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Kaufmann, Thomas. Geschichte der Reformation. Frankfurt and Leipzig: Verlag der Weltreligionen, 2009.Find this resource:

Leppin, Volker. Die Reformation. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2013.Find this resource:

Mörke, Olaf. Die Reformation: Voraussetzungen und Durchsetzung. 2d ed. Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 2011.Find this resource:

Pettegree, Andrew. Brand Luther: 1517, Printing, and the Making of the Reformation. London: Penguin, 2015.Find this resource:

Roper, Lyndal. Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet. London: Bodley Head, 2016.Find this resource:

Rublack, Ulinka. Reformation Europe. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005.Find this resource:

Schilling, Heinz. Martin Luther: Rebell in einer Zeit des Umbruchs; Eine Biographie. Munich: Beck, 2012.Find this resource:

Schindling, Anton, and Walter Ziegler, eds. Die Territorien des Reichs im Zeitalter der Reformation und Konfessionalisierung: Land und Konfession 1500–1650. 7 vols. Münster: Aschendorff, 1989–1997.Find this resource:

Schmidt, Georg. Geschichte des Alten Reiches: Staat und Nation in der Frühen Neuzeit 1495–1806. Munich: Beck, 1999.Find this resource:

Schnabel-Schüle, Helga. Die Reformation 1495–1555. 2d ed. Stuttgart: Reclam, 2013.Find this resource:

Schorn-Schütte, Luise. Die Reformation: Vorgeschichte, Verlauf, Wirkung. 6th ed. Munich: Beck, 2016.Find this resource:

Schubert, Ernst. Einführung in die Grundprobleme des deutschen Geschichte im Spätmittelalter. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1992.Find this resource:

Schwarz, Reinhard. Luther. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014.Find this resource:

Scott, Tom. Society and Economy in Germany 1300–1600. Houndmills, U.K.: Palgrave, 2002.Find this resource:

Whaley, Joachim. Germany and the Holy Roman Empire Volume I: Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia 1493–1648. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.Find this resource:


(1.) Sebastian Brandt, Das Narrenschiff, ed. Hans-Joachim Mähl (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1964), 7.

(2.) For the following see Joachim Whaley, Germany and the Holy Roman Empire Volume I: Maximilian I to the Peace of Westphalia 1493–1648 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 122–152.

(3.) Ibid., 81–94.

(4.) Ibid., 95–101.

(5.) Ibid., 102–116. An excellent discussion of early modern nationalism, with a focus on the Holy Roman Empire, is provided by Caspar Hirschi, The Origins of Nationalism: An Alternative History from Ancient Rome to Early Modern Germany (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

(6.) Whaley, Germany, 117–121. See also Andrew Pettegree, Brand Luther: 1517, Printing, and the Making of the Reformation (London: Penguin, 2015).

(7.) Larry Silver, Marketing Maximilian: The Visual Ideology of a Holy Roman Emperor (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).

(8.) Whaley, Germany, 67–80.

(9.) Axel Gotthard, Das Alte Reich 1495–1806 (3d ed.; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2006), 31–36.

(10.) Günther Franz, Der deutsche Bauernkrieg (11th ed.; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1977), 92.

(11.) Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (London: Bodley Head, 2016), 17–124; and Reinhard Schwarz, Luther (4th ed.; Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014), 15–53.

(12.) Georg Schmidt, “Luther und die frühe Reformation: Ein nationales Ereignis?,” in Die frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: Wissenschaftliches Symposion des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, ed. Stephen E. Buckwalter (Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 199; Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1998), 54–75; and Georg Schmidt, “Deutschland am Beginn der Neuzeit: Reichs-Staat und Kulturnation?,” in Recht und Reich im Zeitalter der Reformation: Festschrift für Horst Rabe, ed. Christine Roll (Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1997), 1–30.

(13.) The following provide an excellent guide to the profusion of popular Reformations: Thomas Kaufmann, Geschichte der Reformation (Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig: Verlag der Weltreligionen, 2009), 320–518; Peter Blickle, Gemeindereformation: Die Menschen des 16. Jahrhunderts auf dem Weg zum Heil (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1985); Peter Blickle, Kommunalismus: Skizzen einer gesellschaftlichen Organisationsform (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2000); and G. H. Williams, The Radical Reformation (3d ed.; Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 1992).

(14.) The classic work on the urban Reformation cities, first published in 1962, is Bernd Moeller, Reichsstadt und Reformation, ed. Thomas Kaufmann (Tübingen, Germany: G. Mohn, 2011). See also Berndt Hamm, Bürgertum und Glaube: Konturen der städtischen Reformation (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996).

(15.) Peter Blickle, Der Bauernkrieg: Die Revolution des Gemeinen Mannes (4th ed.; Munich: Beck, 2011), 103. Blickle’s book is the best short guide to the events and ideas of the Peasants’ War.

(16.) Peter Blickle, Die Revolution von 1525 (2d ed.; Munich and Vienna: Oldenbourg, 1981), 23–26.

(17.) Walter Klaassen, Michael Gaismair: Revolutionary and Reformer (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1978), 1–56.

(18.) Peter Blickle, Die Reformation im Reich (4th ed.; Stuttgart: Ulmer, 2015), 169–73.

(19.) Whaley, Germany, 284–294.

(20.) The best study of the Imperial Diet’s deliberations on the Luther question before 1532 is Armin Kohnle, Reichstag und Reformation: Kaiserliche und ständische Religionspolitik von den Anfängen der Causa Lutheri bis zum Nürnberger Religionsfrieden (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2001).

(21.) Whaley, Germany, 295–303; Blickle, Reformation, 166–177; and Schwarz, Luther, 189–195.

(22.) Whaley, Germany, 304–316.

(23.) The best account in English of the Schmalkaldic League is Thomas A. Brady, The Politics of the Reformation in Germany: Jacob Sturm (1489–1553) of Strasbourg (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1997). In German, the best is Gabriele Haug-Moritz, Der Schmalkaldische Bund 1530–1541/42: Eine Studie zu den genossenschaftlichen Strukturelementen der politischen Ordnung des Heiligen Römischen Reiches Deutscher Nation (Leinfelden-Echterdingen: DRW, 2002).

(24.) Whaley, Germany, 317–324.

(25.) Heinz Angermeier, Die Reichsreform 1410–1555: Die Staatsproblematik in Deutschland zwischen Mittelalter und Gegenwart (Munich: Beck, 1984), 306–310. See also the excellent essays in Luise Schorn-Schütte, ed., Das Interim 1548/50: Herrschaftskrise und Glaubenskonflikt (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2005).

(26.) The most comprehensive study of the Peace of Augsburg and its legacy is Axel Gotthard, Der Augsburger Religionsfrieden (Münster, Germany: Aschendorff, 2004).

(27.) Siegrid Westphal, “Nach dem Verlust der Kurwürde. Die Ausbildung konfessioneller Identität anstelle politischer Macht bei den Ernestinern,” in Zwischen Schande und Ehre: Erinnerungsbrüche und die Kontinuität des Hauses; Legitimationsmuster und Traditionsverständnis des frühneuzeitlichen Adels in Umbruch und Krise, ed. Martin Wrede (Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für europäische Geschichte Mainz, Abt. für Universalgeschichte Beiheft 73; Mainz: Zabern, 2007), 173–192; and Georg Schmidt, “Die ernestinisch-thüringische Alternative: Wahres Luthertum und offene Politik,” in Der Altar von Lucas Cranach d. Ä. in Neustadt an der Orla und die Kirchenverhältnisse im Zeitalter der Reformation, eds. Werner Greiling et al. (Cologne: Bohlau, 2014), 269–283.

(28.) Ulrike Ludwig, Philippismus und orthodoxes Luthertum an der Universität Wittenberg: Die Rolle Jakob Andreäs im lutherischen Konfessionalisierungsprozess Kursachsens (1576–1580) (Reformationsgeschichtliche Studien und Texte 153; Münster, Germany: Aschendorff, 2009).

(29.) Whaley, Germany, 500–501.

(30.) Joachim Whaley, “Imperial Politics 1555–1618,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to the Thirty Years War, eds. Peter Schroeder and Olaf Asbach (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2013), 13–24.

(31.) Whaley, Germany, 462–474, 563–572.

(32.) Blickle, Der Bauernkrieg; Volker Leppin, Die Reformation (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2013); Olaf Mörke, Die Reformation: Voraussetzungen und Durchsetzung, 2d ed. (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 2011); Helga Schnabel-Schüle, Die Reformation 1495–1555, 2d ed. (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2013); and Luise Schorn-Schütte, Die Reformation: Vorgeschichte, Verlauf, Wirkung, 6th ed. (Munich: Beck, 2016).

(33.) Schwarz, Luther.

(34.) C. Scott Dixon, The Reformation in Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

(35.) Kaufmann, Geschichte der Reformation.

(36.) Anton Schindling and Walter Ziegler, eds. Die Territorien des Reichs im Zeitalter der Reformation und Konfessionalisierung: Land und Konfession 1500–1650, 7 vols. (Münster: Aschendorff, 1989–1997).

(37.) Heinz Schilling, Martin Luther: Rebell in einer Zeit des Umbruchs; Eine Biographie (Munich: Beck, 2012).

(38.) Roper, Martin Luther.

(39.) Whaley, Germany.