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date: 29 April 2017

Martin Luther and the Saxon Electors

Summary and Keywords

Although born in the territory of the Counts of Mansfield, Luther’s connection to Saxony began early. He attended school in Eisenach (1498–1501), located in electoral Saxony, and enrolled in university (1501–1505) and later entered the Augustinian monastery (1505–1508) in Erfurt, an independent city with close economic and political ties to Saxony. Luther’s association with Saxony and its electors, however, was sealed with his 1508 arrival at the University of Wittenberg, followed by his return to Wittenberg in 1511, where he was to reside for the most remainder of his adult life. His relationship with the rulers in Ernestine and Albertine Saxony and their reaction to his reform movement proved fundamental to Luther’s life and career, just as Luther has become inextricably linked to the history of Saxony and Wittenberg.

Scholars have concentrated on Luther’s interactions with the elector of Saxony Frederick III, “the Wise” (1463–1525, r. 1486–1525), during the early Reformation. Less scholarly attention has been paid to the relationship between Luther and the electors of Saxony during the reign of Frederick’s brother John the Steadfast (1468–1532, r. 1525–1532) and nephew John Frederick (1503–1554, r. 1532–1547), despite the vital role that these rulers played during the development of the new confessional identity. Discussions of Luther’s interaction with these Saxon electors were featured in 16th-century publications and art as well as early histories of the Reformation and of Saxony. Over the course of subsequent centuries, the relationship between Luther and the Ernestine electors has become central to the story of the Reformation and to Saxon history.

Keywords: Martin Luther, church development, Cranach, Frederick the Wise, Holy Roman Empire, religious policy, Saxony, University of Wittenberg

Three Electors and Luther: An Overview

In 1525, Luther published two sermons given at the funeral of Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony. The publication is a work of consolation using an explication of 1 Thessalonians 4 as reminder to the congregation of God’s mercy and redemption offered in death through the hope of resurrection.1 It is not a work that lists Frederick’s accomplishments, nor does it mention much personal about him. Spalatin briefly mentioned Luther’s sermons in a longer discussion of the funeral rituals held for Frederick, saying that the first sermon was “in German and quite consoling” and describing the second as “very Christian.”2 The sermons showed Frederick as committed to the Lutheran movement, accepting its rituals as he died and in the public presentation of his death by his court and clergy.

Seven years later, in 1532, Luther preached the funeral sermons for a second Saxon elector, Frederick’s brother John. Although Luther again used 1 Thessalonians 4 as the centerpiece of the work, the sermon differed in its mention of personal details and its emphasis on the sense of personal loss felt by the congregation and by Luther himself.3 Luther described John’s death as eliciting particular grief because it meant the loss of a worthy, ideal Christian ruler. Luther cautioned his listeners that he did not “want to make out our dear lord as so pure, although he was a very pious, friendly man.” He then went on to note that he had “never in his life noticed John ever exhibiting any pride, anger, or envy” and he was if anything “perhaps too merciful.” He then compared the elector’s sufferings at the Diet of Augsburg (1530) to those of Christ at his death, since John, too, had suffered for the sins of all.4 The sentiment expressed in the sermon, while still containing elements of the universal consolation needed at all deaths, showed this elector as exceptional and the heartfelt grief of the speaker and audience as understandable. Clearly, between these two events the relationship between Luther and the electors had changed.

Luther did not outlive his third elector, John Frederick. Luther’s close colleagues Justus Menius and Nikolas von Amsdorf did publish their funeral sermons for him in 1554. Amsdorf devoted a portion of his text to describing the elector’s last days, which focused on his spiritual preparation for death. Amsdorf’s remaining text focused on John Frederick’s virtue as a ruler and his spiritual trials through his imprisonment during the Interim.5 Menius praised John Frederick’s patience while suffering, using Psalm 126, which he had given him after his release from prison (following his defeat in the Schmalkaldic Wars) in 1552. The bulk of the publication showed how John Fredrick met Luther’s definition of leading a “virtuous, honorable life.” Menius then described John Frederick’s virtues and deeds throughout his life until his death in supporting the reform movement and Luther. As Menius explained, his intent was not to “flatter” the ruler, but rather to illuminate the “gifts of God” found in the elector.6 Menius connected his words about John Frederick to Luther, saying what he presented was what Luther might have said.

Reading these sermons as merely indicative of the relationship between Luther and the three electors, distant in the case of Frederick and personal in the case of John and John Frederick, misses significant differences in context. What is notably absent from Luther’s sermon for Frederick, namely, any personal expression of grief as well as any criticism, can also be understood as a reaction to the danger that Frederick’s death represented to the reform movement and the need for a theologically normative, ideal funeral ceremony crafted according to the new evangelical teachings to underscore the legitimacy of the movement.7 One could surmise that that situation was less fraught in 1532, which may well explain the difference in the published sermons. In 1554, John Frederick’s political position as a former elector meant the situation in Saxony and for the religious movement was far more complicated.

The ongoing connection between Luther and each of the Saxon electors fostered a continuity in the rulers’ policies. While each elector did have specific religious policies and interaction with the emperor during their reigns, each successive elector had been part of the previous elector’s administration. While Frederick remained unmarried, his brother John and nephew John Frederick were his heirs apparent. For this reason, Frederick kept in constant contact with them. Such communication was also the case during the reign of John, since his son John Frederick was his heir. So all three men participated in the early reform movement.

They did have varied reactions to Luther, with John Frederick being the most receptive. All three were involved in reacting to the early reform movement, and various parties addressed all three hoping to sway their reactions. For instance, Frederick and John were both addressed in Henry VIII’s Letter to the Princes of Saxony (1522);8 Jacob Strauss addressed a 1523 pamphlet to Frederick, John, and John Frederick;9 and Thomas Müntzer held his Sermon to the Princes (1524) in front of John and John Frederick in the castle of Allstedt.10 Each was addressed independently in letters and pamphlets during the reigns of their predecessors and were addressed in pamphlets and letters in their own names during their reigns as electors. Their reigns thus demonstrate both continuity and distinct shifts in religious and imperial policy as a result of their dealings with Luther and the resulting implementation of reform in Ernestine Saxony.

Frederick III, “the Wise”

In his 1546 biographical sketch of Luther, Melanchthon pinpoints the first time Luther and Frederick met as the occasion of Luther’s doctoral promotion in 1508, where the elector “marveled at the power of [Luther’s] intelligence, the powers of his speech, and excellence of his explications of matters in debates.” He stated that Frederick already foresaw the future problems resulting from the events of 1517.11 Cochlaeus claimed that Luther was emboldened to act in part by his trust “in the power and favor of his protector, Duke Frederick the Elector,” and the support of Staupitz.12 The veracity of both accounts has been a matter of great debate, but they demonstrate specific ways in which the relationships with the emperors were approached in the 16th century and continued to be approached.

Within the context of 16th-century biographies of Luther, contemporary followers and critics of Luther focused on several key moments in the interactions between Luther and Frederick: the arrival of Luther (1508/1511) in Wittenberg shortly after Frederick’s founding of the University of Wittenberg, Frederick’s intervention to prevent Luther from being interviewed in Rome (1518), their interactions at the Diet of Worms (1521), Luther’s polemical attack on Frederick’s large relic collection (1522), and Frederick’s acceptance of communion in both kinds on his deathbed, a public profession of spiritual adherence to the evangelical movement in the midst the Peasants’ War (1525).13 These iconic moments show a ruler interacting personally with the reformer, performing his duty as a Christian ruler fulfilling his role as “protector” (Beschützer)14 and demonstrating his virtue as a Christian taught the true religion by a spiritual advisor.

In his discussion of Frederick, Spalatin mentioned Frederick’s willingness to give up the chance to be emperor and support Charles V, his building program in his territories, and his founding of the University of Wittenberg (1502).15 He emphasized that the university made it possible for Luther to preach “god’s word loud and pure as it had been in the time of the apostles” and highlighted the important cultural contributions made by Melanchthon and other scholars as well.16 Spalatin first briefly mentioned Luther in a sketch outlining the events at the Diet of Augsburg (1518), stating simply that Luther was called to Augsburg. Spalatin made a note to himself to expand the discussion later to include what happened when Luther appeared.17 Cochlaeus is more direct in associating Luther and Frederick by claiming that Frederick intervened at Luther’s request to prevent a full trial in Rome, to have “the case entrusted to the regions,” and to provide him with “letters and commendations” for his meeting with Cajetan in Augsburg.18 In doing so, Cochlaeus painted a much more active role for Frederick than the contemporaneous Wittenberg historians.

Two major themes emerge in these accounts, letters, and other contemporary documents. One is the presentation of Frederick the Wise as a good ruler protecting Luther in 1518 and again at the Diet of Worms in 1521 and afterward, first through persuading the emperor to make sure Luther was not questioned in Rome and then arranging for Luther to be whisked away to the Wartburg after it became clear that Luther would be outlawed.19 Spalatin mentioned that both Luther and the elector were at the Diet of Worms (1521) and that Luther spoke well, without discussing any meeting between the two men.20 Melanchthon does not even mention Frederick’s presence at Worms in his biography of Luther, choosing instead to group him with the other “Princes, Electors, and Nobles” present. His perspective focuses instead on Luther alone at the council and supported before and after by friends.21 Cochlaeus, in contrast, shows Frederick as openly defending Luther at Worms, even before Luther was called to appear.22 One might even argue that the difference is due to the intent of the authors as well, since Spalatin is writing of the elector and Melanchthon on Luther. But both avoid discussion of direct interactions. These authors, unlike modern biographers, do not discuss the involvement of the elector in securing Luther in the Wartburg, where he would be safe.23

A second presentation reversed the roles to emphasize the pastoral role that Luther played as spiritual protector and mentor to the elector. Thus Luther admonished Frederick for additions to his enormous and, in Luther’s eyes, impious relic collection, which, he reminded Frederick, was inspired by the devil.24 The collection was removed by 1523, but not destroyed.25 Johann Cochlaeus, a vehement opponent of Luther, interpreted this event, and Frederick’s action, as demonstrating tensions between Frederick and Luther over the rituals and relics in the Wittenberg Collegiate Church, which he claimed that Frederick refused to change, despite Luther’s teachings. He asserted that this was because Frederick was not as pliable as his brother John in allowing Luther to enact “at random any acts of impiety he might desire.”26 The account of Frederick’s Christian death, including his taking of communion in both kinds and his burial with the new funeral rites, emphasized that critics were wrong and that Frederick had, as Melanchthon argued, accepted Luther’s teachings.

Frederick did allow Luther and the Wittenberg reformers to issue and carry out a series of changes in Wittenberg, beginning with the changes in the mass (1523) and baptism (1523)27 as well as initiating changes in other devotional practices. While Frederick tolerated evangelical preaching in his territory, he did not command that it be done. He also was quite cautious about some changes, including clerical marriage, among clergy in his own court.28

Discussions of Frederick since the 16th century have centered on his willingness to directly support Luther outside Saxony and the role that his larger political ambitions might have played in this. In explaining the elector’s political philosophy, Melanchthon asserted that Frederick was “fondest of public tranquility” and concerned for “the common well-being of the world.” He then commented that these qualities determined how Frederick reacted to the uproar around Luther: “[Frederick] was neither an instigator nor an applauder of Luther, and he often made known his own distress … fearing greater dissensions.”29 Spalatin wrote that Frederick was well respected by foreign princes and kings and had regular, friendly contact and correspondence with many of them. He did qualify that this changed when “God allow[ed] his holy, consoling divine word to once again go into the world through the precious man, Dr. Martin Luther at his university of Wittenberg.”30 In his unpublished biography of Frederick the Wise, Spalatin described Frederick’s support of scholars and artists, mentioning the great regard he held for Luther “although he never interacted directly with him.”31 Spalatin listed several instances where Frederick put his understanding of the right thing to do above his relationship with the emperor or other rulers. He described, for instance, how Frederick defended Luther in letters to his brother John and cousin George after Henry VIII sent Frederick his 1523 a book against Luther.32

Despite such heroic depiction, Frederick was cautious in his dealings with Luther throughout his reign when crafting his political position outside of his territory. Many historians have noted a duality in Frederick’s approach to Luther. Frederick, for instance, intervened to ensure that Luther was not sent to Rome for investigation, but he did not interfere in Cajetan’s questioning.33 Frederick certainly avoided putting any direct support of Luther’s theology in writing, using vague language in all correspondence even to his brother John. In the early 1520s, Frederick deferred to the imperial and episcopal requirements that bishops be allowed to conduct their visitations of clergy. His support of evangelical clergy lay largely in refusing to help bishops implements any punishments. 34

John the Steadfast

What little direct contemporary discussions of Elector John exists focused on his role at the Diet of Speyer (1526) and the Diet of Augsburg (1530). In this context, John is praised for his willingness to support Luther and protect the evangelical movement. Part of the reason for this absence of discussions is the overwhelming amount of time spent discussing Frederick the Wise by 16th-century historians. Spalatin, for instance, intended to write a chronicle that was to include a biography of John and John Frederick but never got past the note-taking stage. Few other works included much on the role of John during and after the reign of Frederick either, leaving John in the background in most considerations of the Reformation in Saxony.

Surviving evidence indicates that Luther had a more personal relationship with John than with Frederick from very early in his reform movement. Luther dedicated On Good Works (1520) to John, after asking for Spalatin’s advice.35 In his correspondence with Frederick before becoming elector, John showed early support for Luther, often tempering Frederick’s apprehension about changes being undertaken in Wittenberg and elsewhere.36 After becoming elector in 1525, John openly supported Luther and his reform efforts within Ernestine Saxony and at the imperial level. One of the first letters the newly installed elector John wrote to Luther included a reassurance that he intended to help him with “his praiseworthy work” for the benefit of Christendom and “the German nation.”37 In 1525, the elector John of Saxony began secularizing monastic houses first in Wittenberg and then throughout his territory by refusing to allow monastics to return to their houses after the Peasants’ War.38

John was instrumental assisting Luther and his colleagues to make the first strides toward building a unified devotional practice for the clergy and laity within his territories. Undertaken in stages, this process began with the 1526 distribution of a German divine service and revised baptism rite followed changes over the next months designed to make sure that clergy and parishioners followed a similar service.39 Lingering questions about what exactly the new teachings were and how they were to be followed made implementing such changes problematic. In 1526, John ordered Spalatin to undertake a visitation of the district of Borna and Friedrich Myconius to visit the district of Tenneberg near Gotha, both of which uncovered significant resistance to reform.40 Clerical and noble actions caused universal concern in Wittenberg, as did the financial situation of the clergy.

By 1527, John, under pressure from Luther, sought to ensure that the new teachings were consistently followed throughout Ernestine Saxony and that the clergy were given the financial and theological provisions they needed to do so. Therefore, he issued a list of instructions to the visitors, produced in conjunction with Luther and Melanchthon.41 The visitation of 1528–1529 were undertaken throughout most of the territory, and visitors went from parish to parish to assess the theological preparedness and financial situation of the clergy.42 In 1531, John instituted a Sequestration Commission to manage the property and goods of churches, including those of convents, allowing former monks and nuns to appeal for the return of their property. Thus, under Elector John, territorial politics in Saxony came to include direct involvement in setting and enforcing aspects of church policies.43

Almost immediately upon coming to power, John forged important alliances with other rulers supporting the evangelical movement, which culminated in the Treaty of Gotha-Torgau, founding the League of Torgau (or Gotha) (Torgauer Bund).44 The most important alliance was with Philipp of Hesse, as was made evident by John’s willingness to stand with him at the Diet of Speyer (1526). Spalatin described how the two men were prevented from hearing sermons from their preachers in a church and were forced to hold services in their accommodations.45 In 1527, John moved to accept the reform movement in Saxony. When Luther was unable to attend the Diet of Augsburg due to his legal status in the empire after Worms, he had to depend on Melanchthon and John to keep him informed about developments in negotiations.

Melanchthon mentioned Luther’s approval of the Augsburg Confession presented by Elector John and Landgrave Philipp at the Diet of Augsburg (1530) with little discussion of John’s active role.46 In other reports it becomes evident that John supported Luther and Melanchthon at the Diet of Augsburg (1530) at great personal risk. As Spalatin wrote, the elector made a public profession of faith (Bekenntnis), along with other evangelical rulers, at the Diet of Augsburg in front of the emperor.47 The response of the emperor was swift. Spalatin described how John “suffered far more persecution than this brother Frederick on behalf of God’s word,” particularly when he had to stand by when the emperor swore at the Diet of Augsburg to “eradicate all those that called themselves Lutheran [Lutherischen].” A printed response condemned the confession presented by “the elector of Saxony and other princes” as heretical and full of errors.48 Spalatin explained in his text that Charles V had probably not meant it to be as harsh or directed at John as it appeared, and that the emperor later reconciled with John in response to the growing threat of the Turks.49 John’s death in 1532 left open the question of how secure that reconciliation was.

Certainly by the early 1530s, the direct role of the John and John Frederick and their officials in parish and clerical administration had increased significantly. Thus, claiming a position of neutrality became more difficult to defend. John and especially John Frederick were to suffer personally and politically for their support of Luther and the Lutheran reform movement.

John Frederick “the Magnanimous”

An early supporter of Luther, John Frederick continued to foster the reform movement in his territory begun by his uncle and father. His support of Luther in his church policies and his imperial actions expanded on the policies of his father but were much more concrete with far less concession. In addition, his implementation of religious reforms during his reign led to greater cohesion of religious practice and confessional identity within his territories. This undertaking was made possible by the clear statement of evangelical belief outlined in the Augsburg Confession, but it was also due to John Frederick’s resolve. His devotion to protecting confessional identity ultimately led to the loss of his position as elector in the empire and of his territory in 1547.

In close cooperation with Luther and other evangelical theologians and pastors, John Frederick’s officials and jurists set about regulating church structure and setting devotional and moral norms throughout Saxony. Almost as soon as he came to power, John Frederick ordered a new series of visitations. These were carried out between 1533 and 1535 in territories of Ernestine Saxony, with sporadic visitations in parts of the territories in the 1540s. As the need for a method to ensure that clergy followed the outlines of the Augsburg Confession became clear, officials paid greater attention to their theological knowledge and propriety in the parishes in these visitations and subsequent investigations. Clergy noted as deficient in the 1528/1529 visitations were replaced if they had not improved their theological teachings, devotional services, and personal behavior by the time of these new visitations. This was in keeping with other attempts to improve the quality of parish life. In 1537, Luther issued an ordinance for the ordination of clergy, which allowed the superintendents and Wittenberg faculty to control who was being installed as clergy.50

During John Frederick’s reign as elector, jurists and church officials made significant strides toward created a church administration and institutional structure. Around 1534, Luther, with John Frederick’s support, issued and implemented the first Saxon wedding ordinance.51 In 1538, John Frederick set out to improve the Sequestration Commission by using the funds for the care of the church as well as former monastics. In addition, some of the funds from church property were used to offer education at all levels, but especially to provide stipends for young men intending to become pastors. Since no comprehensive marriage law existed in Electoral Saxony until the mid-16th century, the reform leadership and electoral officials dealt with problematic marriage cases on an ad hoc basis.52 In 1539, John Frederick insisted that, in addition to the visitations to determine clerical competency, anomalies in practice had to be dealt with by a joint church-state-run consistory court. Despite his apprehension, Luther became an active consultant in many marriage cases that came before it, much to the disapproval of some of the jurists involved, and occasionally even John Frederick.53

John Frederick was actively involved in leading the Schmalkaldic League throughout his reign as elector, providing diverse methods of support for the ongoing conflicts of the evangelical rulers with the emperor.54 At his request, Luther, Melanchthon, and other reformers, with the assistance of Spalatin,55 put together the Smalcald Articles (1537) for discussion with the Schmalkaldic League to create theological cohesion with the various Protestant groups. Instead, theological points emerging out of these documents continued to be disputed during a series of regional and imperial colloquies in the 1530s and 1540s. John Frederick allowed Wittenberg theologians to attend religious colloquies associated with imperial meetings throughout this period, but did not allow them to compromise on what he saw as crucial issues.

John Frederick’s leadership of the Schmalkaldic League was demonstrated during his defeat of Duke Henry of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel in 1542. After deposing Henry, John Frederick and Philipp of Hesse instituted the first reforms and visitations in that region between 1542 and 1544. At the same time, John Frederick gained some concessions on religion from Charles V at the Diet of Regensburg (1544). These victories were to be short-lived. On April 24, 1547, John Frederick was injured and captured during the battle of Mühlberg, a decisive battle of Schmalkaldic War. He was subsequently deposed from his position as elector and imprisoned until 1552.56 In his Chronicle on Lineage and Foundation of the … Electoral and Princely House of Saxony (1555), based heavily on Spalatin’s Chronicle, Wolfgang Krauss added a section on John Frederick, praising his spiritual strength and bravery in his willingness to defend “God’s word” on the battlefield. Krauss pointed out that John Frederick “suffered in his own body and life” to preserve and protect religion, his territory, and his subjects.57 Krauss emphasized the elector’s responsibility for maintaining the reform movement, at least as presented in his biographies.

After his imprisonment, John Frederick founded the University of Jena and became instrumental in supporting the completion and publication of an edition of Luther’s works in Jena. In doing so, he assisted in the creation of Luther’s legacy.58

Review of the Literature

In a 2015 essay, Heinz Schilling described how difficult the topic of “Luther and the Princes” is, “not because the reformer himself in his relationship to the princes … was unclear or wavering. Rather, the difficulty is the 500-year history of its reception and the different interpretations and opposing assessments bound to these.”59 As his comments indicate, the breadth of the scholarship on Luther and Saxon electors makes a simple summary difficult at best. From the ongoing questions about whether Luther and Frederick met to the more recent scholarship on material culture and pace of reform, scholars continue to disagree on how to understand how Luther interacted with the Saxon electors and the impact of Luther on religion and everyday life in Saxony. As the focus of scholarship has shifted, so too have the types of sources used for these studies changed greatly in the last decades. Scholarship using methodologies of art history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and material culture continues to shed new light on the political, theological, and social developments in Saxony and on the impact of place and space on the reform ideologies and political aspiration of Luther and electors. Very broadly, the topic of Luther and the Saxon electors has been treated in varied ways from the 16th century to the present.

One of the most enduring approaches has been to explore the interactions of these men through the lens of Luther’s life in the countless biographies of Luther. Here the Saxon electors and princes appear at crucial moments of Luther’s life to intervene and help him with the reform movement.60 This has led, for instance, to questions about the personal relationship that these men had. In a 1982 article, for instance, Ingetraut Ludolphy argued that the only evidence of a meeting comes from Melanchthon, and that his statement remains unconfirmed by any evidence from the time of the event or afterwards. She demonstrates that both men made statements that they had never met or spoken, including Frederick’s statement that he had only seen him at the Diet of Worms (1521), and Luther also made statements that they had never met. As Ludolphy argues, this lack of direct interaction makes sense given the difference in social standing between the men, which would never have allowed the cozy conversation between reformer and elector depicted in the movie Luther (2003).61

Many scholars have looked at the letters of Luther as a means of both gleaning specific information about his relationship with the Saxon electors and to gain greater insight into the relationship through the letters themselves.62 Luther wrote letters to all the electors and their officials throughout his career in Wittenberg and Saxony, especially after 1521. Luther wrote six letters directly to Frederick, most in the period of 1518–1519 and 1522,63 and received about four in return.64 There was constant correspondence between Luther and Elector John between 1525 and 1532, with John writing fifty-six letters to Luther.65 The correspondence tended to be one-sided, with Luther writing only seven directly to John after he became the elector and one beforehand.66 The contact, at least through letters, between the elector and Luther changed during the reign of John Frederick. Luther sent fourteen letters to John Frederick before he became elector67 and over 170 afterward.68 John Frederick sent Luther around 120 letters.69 Hendrix argues that part of the reason for this increase in the volume of direct correspondence was that Luther and his colleagues now could be considered part of the administration of the elector.70

A second related, persisting approach to the topic has been to focus on the role of the “Luther affair” in the religious policy of the electors in Saxony and its impact on the Holy Roman Empire. The three electors certainly had very different reactions to any public profession of support for Luther. Heiko Oberman describes Frederick as “enigmatic” in discussing his reaction to Luther’s reforms and mentioned that Luther described him as “the great hesitator.”71 Such caution allowed him and his successors, to greater and lesser degrees during the early Reformation, to continue to function in imperial politics by not overtly defying the emperor. Scholars have characterized such strategies by these territorial princes as “Realpolitik,”72 “pragmatic toleration,”73 and “neutral non-intervention” as they have sought to explain this seeming contradiction.74 Such research also has extended to understanding the increasingly divisive role that John and John Frederick played in imperial diets, the Schmalkaldic League, and ongoing religious discussions (Religionsgespräche) of the 1530s and 1540s.75

Considerable interest has emerged, especially since the mid-20th century, on the important function territorial church politics had in state-building and in confessionalization in Saxony as the first region to implement Luther’s teachings. To understand the connections, scholars have investigated Luther’s political theology and the role it played in the developing religious policies of the electors, especially as John began to blend the role of elector and head of the church into a single person either by necessity or by design.76 In this context, the political organization of Electoral Saxony and the role that Luther played in the state have generated considerable interest. Scholars investigating the officials and jurists, such as Hans von Planitz,77 Georg Spalatin,78 Hieronymus Schürpf,79 and Gregor Brück,80 in the electors’ courts have found that they were active participants in creating the electoral church policies and in developing institutional and legal structure to support these activities. Luther corresponded frequently with electoral officials, such as Spalatin, especially during the reigns of Frederick and John.81 They were also vital in assisting Luther, the Wittenberg theologians, and the evangelical parish clergy in developing their theological positions.

Such explorations of Saxon religious policy led to a closer examination of the Saxon religious policy before the Reformation. Scholars such as Christoph Volkmar have begun to investigate not just Ernestine but also at Albertine Saxony. The work of Volkmar and others suggests that many of the political reforms predate Luther and that this longer view must be taken into account in understanding 16th-century developments.82 Volkmar argues that George and Frederick sought the same goal of reform and tighter control over local clergy, but took very different directions in doing so. With this perspective, the focus certainly shifts to the princes in both parts of Saxony taking a far more active role in determining the direction of the reform movement and that their actions were less bound to Luther.83 Growing interest in Albertine Saxony has led some scholars to study the effect of the Albertine dukes’ public opposition to their cousins, the electors in Ernestine, on the Reformation. Here, particularly, Duke George the Bearded (1471–1539, r. 1500–1539) and the shifting reactions of his successors, his brother Henry IV (1473–1541, r. 1539–1541) and nephew Maurice (1521–1553, r. 1541–1547 [duke], 1547–1553 [elector]) created the political tensions and religious conflicts in the region that were to shape Luther’s theological and practical development of the reform movement over the decades following 1517.84 Luther’s relationship with the rulers in Saxony proved to be significant as well to the Holy Roman Empire as tensions between the two lines often played out on an imperial stage by using opposite reactions to Luther and the Lutheran movement.

The close connection between Luther and the electors made by contemporaries such as Melanchthon in writing and Cranach in numerous paintings has prompted a growing interest in the way that art, music, and material culture were used to emphasize confessional and political unity. Scholars have analyzed what we can know about popular practices and Frederick’s belief system by understanding both the political and spiritual meanings embedded in his relic collection and how and if he truly allowed it to be removed from Wittenberg.85 Attention to material culture has been evident in many realms. One example has been the research has been done on the way the emblem VDMIAE (Verbum Domini manet in aeternum), integrated into the clothing of the electors beginning with Frederick and their retinues spread among the evangelical princes as a way of displaying their adherence to evangelical teaching on their sleeves.86 Other scholars have looked at the way that secular and religious space took on new meaning in Saxony with the emergence of the new confessional identity.87 By looking at music, space, rituals, and senses, these works seek to show another aspect of the impact of the institutional changes made by the Ernestine electors and Luther and his followers in the 16th century.

Another direction that scholarship has taken in the 21st century has been to focus on the impact of the reforms undertaken by Luther and the electors on the daily lives and devotional experience of parishioners with the territory. Here research has focused on the impact of the consistory courts, the dissolution of convents, and visitations of the clergy, among others, on a variety of groups. Here interactions between clergy and the laity become important in shaping the way these institutions and religious policies developed. This has led some scholars to question whether the impact of this relationship was necessarily beneficial to those in Saxony by looking at the impact on specific groups.88 The work of Natalie Krentz has introduced the close reexamination of sources to understand the way that ritual led to a sense of a unity even where a more complex situation prevailed, but also the role that those outside the central narrative, including the laity, were involved in shaping the reform movement itself. 89

Since the 16th century, historians have shown how the Saxon electors and rulers created a circumstance that allowed Luther to proceed with his reform movement and had an important role, directly and indirectly, in the shape that movement was to take. The influence was mutual. Saxon religious policies, state-building, and expansion became intertwined with Luther and his movement. The connection between Luther and the Saxon electors thus remains of continued scholarly and popular interest. Recent scholarship on the impact of this political relationship has opened new ways of looking at Saxony during the early reformation as have studies on the interaction between state development and religious change brought about by the relationship between the Saxon electors. By moving beyond the personal interactions between these men, scholars have begun to examine the broader implications of this relationship in electoral Saxony. Much work still needs to be done on the implementation of the religious policies of the Saxon electors and how Luther’s participation shaped these. In addition, there remains much more research that needs to be done on the ways that daily life, church organization, marriage and family life, devotional rituals, music, material culture, architecture and art, historical writing, and political leadership shifted in Saxony as a result of the interactions between Luther and the electors.

Further Reading

Christiansen, Carl. Princes and Propaganda: Electoral Saxon Art of the Reformation. Kirksville, MO: Sixteenth Century Journal, 1992.Find this resource:

Junghans, Helmar, ed. Das Jahrhundert der Reformation in Sachsen. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2005.Find this resource:

Karant-Nunn, Susan C. Luther’s Pastors: The Reformation in the Ernestine Countryside. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1979.Find this resource:

Kirn, Paul. Friedrich der Weise und die Kirche: Seine Kirchenpolitik vor und nach Luthers Hervortreten im Jahre 1517. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner, 1926.Find this resource:

Krentz, Natalie. Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit: Die frühe Reformation in der Residenzstadt Wittenberg (1500–1533). Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2014.Find this resource:

Leppin, Volker, Georg Schmidt, and Sabine Wefers, eds. Johann Friedrich I.—der lutherische Kurfürst. Güterslöh, Germany: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2006.Find this resource:

Ludolphy, Ingetraut. Friedrich der Weise: Kurfürst von Sachsen 1463–1525. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984.Find this resource:

Volkmar, Christoph. Reform statt Reformation: Die Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen, 1488–1525. Gütersloh, Germany: Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 2008.Find this resource:

Wartenberg, Günther. Wittenberger Reformation und territorial Politik: Ausgewählte Aufsätze. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2003.Find this resource:


(1.) Martin Luther, Zwo predigt auff die Epistel S. Pauli. 1. Thess. 4 D. Martini Luther gethan uber der leiche des Churfursten Hertzog Friderichs zu Sachsen. Item eyen tröstunge an Churfursten von Sachsen …, den letzten seines lebens hie auf erden. Georgius Spalatinus (Wittenberg, 1525).

(2.) Georg Spalatin, “Friederich der Weise,” in Georg Spalatin’s Historischer Nachlaß und Briefe, vol. 1, eds. Christian Gotthold Neudecker and Ludwig Preller (Jena, Germany: Friedrich Mauke, 1851), 71.

(3.) Gustav Kawerau, Martin Luther, Sein Leben und Seine Schriften (Berlin: Alexander Dunker, 1903), 262.

(4.) Martin Luther, Zwo Predig uber der Leiche des Kurfürsten Hertzog Johans zu Sachsen (Nuremberg, 1532), Bir-v.

(5.) Nikolaus von Amsdorf, Wie sichs mit des Durchleuchtigsten Hochgebornene Fürsten und Herrn, Hern Johanns Friederich, des Eldern, weiland Hertzogen zu Sachsen, … abschied zugetragen hat. Sampt einer Leichpredig uber dem Begrebnis zu Weimar, Montag nach Letare gethan (Jena, 1554).

(6.) Justus Menius, Leichpredigt aus dem CXXVI. Psalm zur Erinnerung Was des gebornen Kurfürsten zu Sachsen, etc. Johans Friederichs, … an SKFG bey leben derselbigen, gutes gehabt und durch ir absterben nachmals verloren haben (Nuremberg, 1554), esp. Biiv–Fiiv, here Eiiiv.

(7.) Natalie Krentz, “Protestantische Identität und Herrschaftsrepräsentation: Begräbnis Friedrichs des Weisen, Kürfurst von Sachsen (1525),” in Symbolik in Zeiten von Krise und Gesellschaftlichem Umbruch: Darstellung und Wahrnehmung vormoderner Ordnung im Wandel, eds. Elizabeth Harding and Natalie Krentz (Münster, Germany: Rhema, 2011), 115–130, esp. 125.

(8.) Henry VIII, Ein brieff des Edlen Künigs vß Engelandt, zů den Fürsten von Sachßen, von dem Luther. Hertzog J[oe]rgen vß Sachßen antwurt. (Doctor T. Murner hats verteutscht.) (Strasbourg, 1522).

(9.) Jacob Strauss, An den durchleuchtigistenn hochgeborne[n] F[ue]rst[n] vn[d] herrn herrn Johanßen Friderichen hertzogen zu Sachssen … Das nit herren aber diener eyner yedenn Christlichen versamlung zugestelt werdenn, beschlußreden vnd haupt artikel, wen gel[ue]stet, mag sich dar gegen h[oe]ren lassen, wirt im sunder zweyfel auff Euangelischer leer Christlich vñ br[ue]derlich gut bescheyd vnnd bewerung widerfaren (Erfurt, 1523).

(10.) Thomas Müntzer, Auszlegung des andern vnterschyds Danielis desz propheten gepredigt auffm schlos zu Alstet vor den tetigen thewren Herzcogen vnd vorstehern zu Sachssen durch Thomã M[ue]ntzer diener des |wordt gottes (Allstedt, 1524); Hans-Jürgen Goertz, Thomas Müntzer: Revolutionär am Ende der Zeit: Eine Biographie (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2015), 133–157.

(11.) Philipp Melanchthon, “History of the Life and Acts of Dr. Martin Luther (1546),” in Luther’s Lives: Two Contemporary Accounts of Martin Luther, eds. Elizabeth Vandiver, Ralph Keen, and Thomas D. Frazel (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2002), 17, 20; Philipp Melanchthon, Historia de Vita et Actis Reverendiss. Viri D. Mart. Lutheri (Erfurt, 1548).

(12.) Johannes Cochlaeus, “The Deeds and Writings of Martin Luther (1549),” in Vandiver, Keen, and Frazel, Luther’s Lives, 60.

(13.) Ernst Salomon Cyprian, Georgi Spalatini Annales Reformationis oder Jahr=Bücher von der Reformation Lutheri, aus dessen Autographo ans Licht gestellet (Leizpig, 1718), 1–6; Cyprian, Georgi Spalatini, 18–26, 49–50.

(14.) Ingetraut Ludolphy, Friedrich der Weise: Kurfürst von Sachsen 1463–1525 (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984), 13.

(15.) Spalatin, “Friederich der Weise,” 56–60.

(16.) Spalatin, Chronica (1541), Qiiir–Qivr. See also, Cochlaeus, “Deeds and Writings,” 57, 58–59; Johannes Cochlaeus, Commentaria Ioannis Cochlaei, De actis et scriptis Martini Lutheri (Mainz, 1549).

(17.) Spalatin, “Friederich der Weise,” 160.

(18.) Cochlaeus, “Deeds and Writings,” 62.

(19.) Historians have pointed out that Frederick’s actions, direct or indirect, after Worms did not always show full support of Luther. See, for instance, Natalie Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit: Die frühe Reformation in der Residenzstadt Wittenberg (1500–1533) (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), 218–220.

(20.) Spalatin, “Friederich der Weise,” 167.

(21.) Melanchthon, “History of the Life and Acts,” 26–38.

(22.) Cochlaeus, “Deeds and Writings,” 84.

(23.) Lyndal Roper, Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet (London: Random House, 2016), 195.

(24.) WA BR 2, no. 454 (February 24, 1522).

(25.) Ernst Müller, “Die Entlassung des ernestinischen Kämmerers Johann Rietesel im Jahre 1532 und die Auflösung des Wittenberger Heiligtums: ein Beitrag zur Biographie des Kurfürsten Johann des Beständigen,” Archive for Reformation History 80 (1989): 213–239. Müller argues that the collection only was dissolved at the end of Elector John’s life.

(26.) Cochlaeus, “Deeds and Writings,” 129–130.

(27.) Emil Sehling, Die Evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des XVI. Jahrhundert, Sachsen, vol. 1 (Leipzig: O. R. Reisland, 1902), 2–9; Sehling, Kirchenordnungen, 1.16–21.

(28.) Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer, From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (Farnham, U.K.: Ashgate, 2012), 125.

(29.) Melanchthon, “History of the Life and Acts,” 20.

(30.) Spalatin, “Friederich der Weise,” 45.

(31.) Spalatin, “Friederich der Weise,” 34.

(32.) Spalatin, “Friederich der Weise,” 47; Cochlaeus, “Deeds and Writings,” 121.

(33.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 126–127.

(34.) Bernd Hamm, “Reformation ‘from Below’ and Reformation ‘from Above’: On the Problem of the Historical Classifications of the Reformation,” in The Reformation of Faith in the Context of Late Medieval Theology and Piety. Essays by Berndt Hamm, ed. and trans. Robert Bast (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2004), 224–231; Karl Pallas, “Die Versuche des Bischofs Adolf von Merseburg, den Kirchlichen Neuerung Innerhalb seiner Diözese Entgegenzutreten, und das Verhalten des Kurfürsten Friedrichs d. W. und Seines Bruders Herzogs Johann dazu, 1522–1525,” Zeitschrift das Vereins für Kirchengeschichte der Provinz Sachsen 23 (1927): 1–54.

(35.) WA 6:196, 202–206.

(36.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 258–259.

(37.) WA BR 3:519–520, no. 880 (May 31, 1525).

(38.) WA BR 3:550, no. 907 (July 31, 1525); Staatsarchiv Nürnberg, Rep. 111, Tom. IV Supp., fasz. 5, 60r–v, October 12, 1525.

(39.) Sehling, Kirchenordnungen, 1.10–16, 1.21–23; C. Scott Dixon, The Reformation in Germany (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), 122.

(40.) Rudolf Herrmann, “Die Kirchenvisitationen im Ernestinischen Thüringen vor 1528,” Beiträge zur Thüringischen Kirchengeschichte 1 (1929): 179–186; Paul Drews, “Der Bericht des Mykonius über die Visitation des Amtes Tenneberg im März 1526,” Archive for Reformation History 3 (1905): 1–17.

(41.) Sehling, Kirchenordnungen, 1.142–148.

(42.) Karl Pallas, ed. Die Registraturen der Kirchenvisitationen im ehemals sächsischen Kurkreise, 5 vols. (Halle, Germany: O. Hendel, 1906–1918). The originals manuscripts are available online.

(43.) Hans-Walter Krumwiede, Zur Entstehung des landesherrlichen Kirchenregimentes in Kursachsen und Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967).

(44.) Thomas Brady, German Histories in the Age of the Reformation, 1400–1650 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 215.

(45.) Cyprian, Georgi Spalatini, 95–96.

(46.) Melanchthon, “History of the Life and Acts,” 21.

(47.) Cyprian, Georgi Spalatini, 134–139.

(48.) Cyprian, Georgi Spalatini, 145.

(49.) Spalatin, Chronica, Qivr-Riiir, esp. Rir–v.

(50.) Sehling, Kirchenordnungen, 1.24–28.

(51.) Sehling, Kirchenordnungen, 1.23–24.

(52.) Ralf Frassek, Eherecht und Ehegerichtsbarkeit in der Reformationszeit: Der Aufbau neuer Rechtsstrukturen im sächsischen Raum unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Wirkungsgeschichte des Wittenberger Konsistoriums (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2005), 37–41, 173–88.

(53.) Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer, “‘The Much Married Michael Kramer’: Evangelical Clergy and Bigamy in Ernestine Saxony, 1522–1542,” in Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany: Essays in Honor of H.C. Erik Midelfort, eds. Marjorie E. Plummer and Robin B. Barnes (Aldershot, U.K.: Ashgate, 2009), 112.

(54.) Gabriele Haug-Moritz, “Johann Friedrich I. und der Schmalkaldische Bund,” in Johann Friedrich I.—der lutherische Kurfürst, eds. Volker Leppin, Georg Schmidt, and Sabine Wefers (Gütersloh, Germany: Gütersloher Verlag, 2006), 85–100.

(55.) Cyprian, Georgi Spalatini, 308–309.

(56.) Georg Schmidt, “Der Kampf um kursachsen, Luthertum und Reichsverfassung (1546–1553)—Ein deutsche Freiheitskrieg?” in Johann Friedrich I, eds. Leppin, Schmidt, and Wefers, 85–100.

(57.) Wolfgang Krauss, Chronica Des Stams und Ankunfft Des … Chur und Fürstlichen haus zu Sachsen, ungefehrlich vor 800. Jaren her bis auff diese unsere Zeit (Wittenberg, 1555), Kviiiv–Livr, esp. Kviir, Lir, Liiv.

(58.) Robert Kolb, Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, and Hero: Images of the Reformer, 1520–1620 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 1999), 146–147.

(59.) Heinz Schilling, “Luther und die Fürsten,” in Luther und die Fürsten: Selbstdarstellung und Selbstverständnis des Herrschers im Zeitalter der Reformation. Katalog, eds. Dirk Syndram, Yvonne Wirth, and Doreen Zerbe (Dresden, Germany: Sandstein, 2015), here 17. Author’s translation.

(60.) Most recently, Roper, Martin Luther; Scott H. Hendrix, Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015); Heinz Schilling, Martin Luther: Rebell in einer Zeit des Umbruchs (Munich: C. H. Becks, 2012); Volker Leppin, Martin Luther: Gestalt des Mittelalters und Humanismus (Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2006); Heiko Oberman, Luther Between Man and the Devil (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989); Martin Brecht, Martin Luther, trans. James L. Schaff, 3 vols. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1985–1993).

(61.) Ingetraut Ludolphy, “Haben Sie tatsächlich nie Miteinander gesprochen? Luther und sein Landesfürst Friedrich der Weise,” Luther 53 (1982): 115–121, esp. 119.

(62.) Lyndal Roper, “‘To His Most Learned and Dearest Friend’: Reading Luther’s Letters,” German History 28.3 (2010): 283–295.

(63.) WA BR 1, nos. 110, 192, 208, 454, 455, 456, 723.

(64.) WA BR 1, nos. 387, 547, 642, 759.

(65.) See WA BR 5 and 12.

(66.) WA BR 3, nos. 728, 867, 918, 920, 921, 925, 937, 950. See also Heinz Scheible, “Zwei unbekannte Briefe des Sächsischen Kurfürsten an Luther vom Augsburger Reichstag 1530,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 53 (1962): 193–197.

(67.) WA BR 2, nos. 347, 393, 461, 753, 778, 868, 870, 1010, 1260, 1270, 1397, 1411, 1412, 3664.

(68.) WA BR 7–12, 18.

(69.) WA BR 6–12.

(70.) Hendrix, Martin Luther, 237.

(71.) Oberman, Luther, 13–30.

(72.) Carl Christensen, “John of Saxony’s Diplomacy, 1529–1530: Reformation or Realpolitik,” Sixteenth Century Journal 15 (1984): 419–430.

(73.) R. Po-chia Hsia, “People’s, City and Princes’ Reformation: Rivals or Phases?” in Die Reformation in Europa und Deutschland: Interpretationen und Debatten, eds. Hans R. Guggisberg and Gottfried G. Krodell (Gütersloh, Germany: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1993), 298.

(74.) Eike Wolgast, “Einführung der Reformation als politische Entscheidung,” in Die Reformation in Deutschland und Europa, eds. Guggisberg and. Krodell, 474–475, 479. See also, Hamm, “Reformation ‘from Below,’” 224.

(75.) See, for instance, many of the articles in Leppin, Schmidt, and Wefers, John Frederick I; Günther Wartenberg, “Die Leipziger Religionsgespräch von 1534 und 1539: Ihre Bedeutung für die sächsische-albertinische Innenpolitik und für das Wirken von Georgs von Karlowitz,” in Die Religionsgespräch der Reformationszeit, ed. Gerhard Müller (Gütersloh, Germany: Mohn, 1980), 35–41.

(76.) Scholars disagree about the degree to which Luther intended this development. See, for example, Lewis Spitz, “Luther’s Ecclesiology and his Concept of the Prince as Notbischof,” Church History 22.2 (1953): 113–141; James M. Estes, “Luther’s First Appeal to Secular Authorities for Help with Church Reform, 1520,” in Continuity and Change: The Harvest of Late-Medieval and Reformation History, eds. Robert J. Bast and Andrew C. Gow (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000), 48–76; Karlheinz Blaschke, “Sächsiche Landesgeschichte und Reformation,” in Glaube und Macht: Theologie, Politik und Kunst im Jahrhundert der Reformation, eds. Enno Bünz, Stefan Rhein, and Günther Wartenberg (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2005), 125. For a good overview of the scholarship on this, see Siegrid Westphal, “Die Ausgestaltung des Kirchenwesens under Johann Friedrich—Ein landherrliches Kirchenregiment?” in Johann Friederich I., eds. Leppin, Schmidt, und Wefers, 261–280.

(77.) Hans von der Planitz, Bericht aus dem Reichsregiment in Nürnberg, 1521–1523, eds. Ernst Wülcker and Hans Virck (1899; reprint, Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms, 1979).

(78.) Armin Kohnle, Christina Meckelnborg, and Uwe Schirmer, eds., Georg Spalatin, Steuermann der Reformation (Halle, Germany: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2014); Irmgard Höss, Georg Spalatin, 1484–1545: Ein Leben in der Zeit des Humanismus und der Reformation (Weimar, Germany: Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1989).

(79.) Wiebke Schaich-Klose, D. Hieronymus Schürpf: Leben und Werk des Wittenberger Reformationsjuristen 1481–1554 (Trogen, Switzerland: F. Meili, 1967).

(80.) Ekkehart Fabian, Dr. Gregor Brück (1557–1957): Lebensbild und Schriftwechselverzeichnis (Tübingen, Germany, 1957); Ekkehart Fabian, Entstehung des Schmalkaldischen Bundes und seiner Verfassung 1524/29–1531/35: Brück, Philipp von Hessen und Jakob Sturm; Darstellung und Quellen mit eine Brück Biographie (Tübingen, Germany: Osiandersche Buchhandlung, 1962).

(81.) Ludolphy, “Haben Sie tatsächlich nie Miteinander gesprochen?,” 120–121. Ludolphy counts 303 letters to Spalatin.

(82.) Christoph Volkmar, Reform statt Reformation: Die Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen, 1488–1525 (Gütersloh, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2008).

(83.) Heinz Schilling, “Kraft der Veränderung, Kraft des Bewahrens: Die Fürsten Europa sim Zeitalter der Reformation,” in Luther und die Fürsten: Selbstdarstellung und Selbstverständnis des Herrschers im Zeitalter der Reformation. Aufsatzband, eds. Dirk Syndram, Yvonne Wirth, and Doreen Zerbe (Dresden, 2015), 23–26.

(84.) See also Christoph Volkmar, Die Heiligenerhebung Bennos von Meissen (1523/24): Spätmittelalterliche Frömmigkeit, landesherrliche Kirchenpolitik und reformatorische Kritik im albertinischen Sachsen in der frühen Reformationszeit (Münster, Germany: Aschendorff, 2002); Günther Wartenberg, Landesherrschaft und Reformation: Moritz von Sachsen und die albertinische Kirchenpolitik bis 1546 (Gütersloh, Germany: Gerd Mohn, 1988). For sources, see Felicien Gess, Akten und Briefen zur Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen, 1517–1527, 2 vols. (1905–1917; reprint, Cologne: Böhlau, 1985); Heiko Jadatz and Christian Winter, Akten und Briefen zur Kirchenpolitik Herzog Georgs von Sachsen, 1528–1539, vols. 3–4 (Cologne: Bölhau, 2010–2012); Günther Wartenberg, Johannes Herrmann, Erich Brandenburg, and Christian Winter, Politische Korrespondenz des Herzogs und Kurfürsten Moritz von Sachsen, 6 vols. (Leipzig: Akademie Verlag, 1900–2006).

(85.) Stefan Laube, “Zwischen Hybris und Hybridität: Kurfürst Friedrich der Weise und seine Reliquiensammlung,” in ‘Ich armer sundiger mensch’: Heiligen- und Reliquienkult am Übergang zum konfessionellen Zeitalter, ed. Andreas Tacke (Göttingen, Germany: Wallenstein-Verlag, 2006), 186; Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 378–381.

(86.) Stephan Selzer, “Devisen an Reichsfürsten Hofen des Spätmittelalters: Umrisse eine Forschungsfeld,” in Reiche Bilder. Aspekte zur Produktion und Funktion von Stickereien im Spätmittelalter, eds. Uta-Christiane Bergemann and Annemarie Stauffer (Regensburg, Germany: Schnell & Steiner, 2010), 118–120; Shilling, “Luther und die Fürsten,” 18.

(87.) Matthias Müller, “Die Konfessionalisierung Höfischer Innenräume: Beobachtungen zur bildlichen Raumausstattung in den Schlössern von Wittenberg und Torgau,” in Luther und die Fürsten I, eds. Syndram, Wirth, and Zerbe, 139–157. Müller explores how the renovations of the Torgau castle under John Frederick exhibited elements of Lutheran teachings.

(88.) See, for instance, Werner Greiling, Armin Kohnle, and Uwe Schirmer, Negative Implikationen der Reformation?: Gesellschaftliche Tranformationsprozesse, 1470–1620 (Cologne: Böhlau, 2015).

(89.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit.