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date: 28 April 2017

The German Catholic Dioceses on the Eve of the Reformation

Summary and Keywords

The structures of the late medieval Church into which Martin Luther was born and within which he received his education and theological training were complicated, particularly in the German lands. German bishops were territorial princes as well as spiritual leaders. Only a minority of German dioceses fell within temporal territories, but in most cases dioceses spanned several territories and some territories included areas in two or more dioceses. Abbots and abbesses were also rulers of independent territories, many of which answered only to the pope. Germany’s prince-bishops had considerable political power, exemplified in the college of electors who selected the Holy Roman Emperor. Of these seven, four were temporal political rulers: the King of Bohemia, Margrave of Brandenburg, the Count of the Palatine, and the Duke of (Electoral) Saxony; but the remaining three were Germany’s three Archbishops: of Cologne, of Mainz, and of Trier. Although such high-ranking church posts were not hereditary, the candidates for most German bishoprics were required to come from the high nobility, and many bishoprics effectively passed down families, or alternated between two families. The Archbishopric of Magdeburg, for instance, was generally held by a scion of the families of the Electors of Saxony and of Brandenburg. In addition, temporal rulers could hold and exercise spiritual power. Thus in Wittenberg, the Elector of Saxony claimed spiritual jurisdiction over the castle church and later over the town, and this was ceded by the Archbishop. In consequence, long before the Reformation, bishops and rulers were vying for authority and sometimes for territory. Not all ecclesiastical power was mediated through bishops: the Abbesses of Essen and Quedlinburg, like some abbots held their jurisdiction directly from the Pope. The German churches which emerged in the course of the Reformation were deeply influenced by their local contexts and by the patterns of relationship between the bishops and temporal political authorities, which in turn shaped emerging Reformation church orders.

Keywords: Martin Luther, German dioceses, Elector of Saxony, prince-bishop, Archbishop of Cologne, Archbishop of Mainz, Archbishop of Magdeburg, Abbess of Essen, Abbess of Quedlinburg, Reformation church order, medieval church

Germany’s Prince-Bishops

Understanding the German Catholic Dioceses on the eve of the Reformation first requires an understanding of what is meant by Germany. This is not trivial. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation consisted of a plethora of territories, some large, some small, some secular, some ecclesiastical (Figure 1).

The German Catholic Dioceses on the Eve of the ReformationClick to view larger

Figure 1. The German lands with imperial and other cities (c. 1500). Cartographer: Joachim Robert Moeschl.

Source: Adapted from IEG-Maps, Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz.© A. Kunz, 2007.

Of these, some were governed by hereditary rulers, princes or kings, dukes or counts; others by bishops or archbishops, abbots or abbesses, all appointed (at least nominally) by the Church; still others, the imperial cities, by city councils elected from and by their citizens. Depending on how they are counted, there were between fifty and sixty or over seventy German dioceses,1 but there were still far fewer dioceses than political territories, and the Church’s diocesan structures cut across territorial boundaries (Figure 2).

The German Catholic Dioceses on the Eve of the ReformationClick to view larger

Figure 2. German archdioceses and dioceses (c. 1500). Cartographer: Joachim Robert Moeschl.

Source: Adapted from IEG-Maps, Leibniz Institute of European History, Mainz.© A. Kunz, 2007.

Moreover, all German diocesan bishops were prince-bishops, and thus also political rulers; indeed, the Vatican’s filing system categorized most of them as principi (princes) rather than vescovi (bishops).2 Under Ottonian law, bishops, like secular princes, ruled as representatives of the emperor, holding the right to issue coinage, to assign market rights, and to raise tolls and taxes (Müntzrecht, Marktrecht, Zollrecht).3 The political territory over which a bishop or archbishop ruled, the Hochstift (or, in the case of archbishops, Erzstift) lay within the boundaries of his diocese, but his spiritual jurisdiction also extended over a larger or smaller number of other political territories.4 Each political territory thus fell within a diocese; indeed some territories, or even cities, spanned two or more dioceses.5

Unlike the situation in England, France, or Spain, therefore, where dioceses were generally contained within national boundaries and bishops were players within national political structures,6 German bishops and the political rulers of territories which lay within their dioceses frequently found themselves in competition, and in many places there was considerable and long-standing disagreement about which areas of authority lay within the bishop’s jurisdiction and which lay within the jurisdiction of the local ruler. An additional complicating factor was the existence of religious foundations, whether monastic or collegiate, generally under the authority of an abbot or abbess who also had territorial jurisdiction and whose spiritual authority was often derived directly from pope and emperor rather than from the local bishop or archbishop. A further factor was the often-convoluted relationship between noble families and particular territories. Bishoprics were not hereditary appointments, but in practice, as Karl Neufeld observes, a particular Hochstift had often been administered for generations by members of the same family, often the same family that had funded the original foundation: “Many a secular ruler understood himself to be the heir by birth of a local Hochstift, and these appointments had become almost a matter of inheritance.”7 The structures of authority and jurisdiction in the late medieval German Church were consequently complex and contested. They were also locally unique, and it will not be possible to explore the situation of every diocese, let alone every territory. This article will therefore present examples of selected dioceses and territories, all of which fell mostly or partially within the Holy Roman Empire, exploring the interplay of authority between bishops and other territorial rulers, aiming to illustrate the complex ecclesiastical relationships within the Holy Roman Empire and to show the limitations that were already being placed on spiritual authority by temporal rulers in the decades before the Reformation.

German Dioceses and Archdioceses

Across Western Christendom, the medieval Church was divided into parishes grouped into dioceses. In theory, every place in Western Europe belonged to a parish and that parish to a diocese. This was what made the medieval Western Church catholic, in the sense of “pertaining to the whole,” and also what made it Christendom: all people, except those of other religions, were understood to be members of the Church from birth (although this may not have meant much to many of them). In turn, groups of dioceses were organized into archdioceses, so that most, although not all, diocesan bishops were subject to an archbishop. Within the Holy Roman Empire, the exceptions to this rule were the dioceses of Bamberg, Kammin, and Vienna New City, all of which were directly subject to the pope. Others were nominally subject to archiepiscopal authority, but that authority lay outside the Holy Roman Empire, and in practice bishops acted independently, without reference to an archbishop. Thus, the dioceses of Basel and Lausanne were technically dioceses of the Archdiocese of Besançon, but in practice the bishops of Basel were independent of the Burgundian archbishop, even though after the death of Charles the Bold, the last Valois Duke of Burgundy, and the marriage of Charles’s daughter to Maximilian, the son of Emperor Frederick III, Burgundy was integrated into the Holy Roman Empire.8 In its ecclesiastical jurisdiction, Basel, a city and territory seeking to place itself politically in relation to the Swiss Confederation rather than the empire, in effect looked directly to the pope. Similarly, the dioceses of Breslau and Lebus, both within the Holy Roman Empire, belonged to the archdiocese of Gnesen, of which the vast majority its territory lay within Poland-Lithuania, and the dioceses of Como, Trent, and Trieste belonged to the Archdiocese of Aquileja, which stretched into northern Italy.9 Trent’s position in the empire would make it Emperor Charles V’s choice of meeting place for the Ecclesiastical Council called by Pope Paul IV in the 1540s. The existence of archiepiscopal structures which crossed the border of the empire (which was in any case in places difficult to define) illustrates a complex of intersections between secular and ecclesiastical powers which characterized the empire at all levels (Table 1).

Table 1. Archdioceses and Dioceses.




Aquileja, Como, Trent, Trieste


Basel, Besançon, Lausanne


Bremen-Hamburg, Lübeck, Ratzeburg, Schwerin


Breslau, Gnesen, Lebus


Cologne, Cambrai, Lüttich (Liège), Minden, Münster, Osnabrück, Utrecht


Brandenburg, Havelberg, Magdeburg, Meißen, Merseberg, Naumburg


Augsburg, Chur, Constance, Eichstätt, Halberstadt, Hildesheim, Mainz, Paderborn, Speyer, Straßburg, Verden, Worms, Würzburg


Prague, Olmütz, Leitomischl


Brixen, Chiemsee, Freising, Gurk, Lavant, Passau, Regensburg (Ratisbon), Salzburg, Seckau, Vienna


Metz, Toul, Trier, Verdun

not in an Archdiocese

Dioceses of Bamberg, Kammin, Vienna New City;

additionally: the Abbey of Fulda and many other abbeys, imperial foundations and collegiate churches, such as Werden and the Stift in Essen

Archbishops as Imperial Electors

A key factor in the interplay between secular and ecclesiastical power and authority was the responsibility of the Archbishops of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier, together with the King of Bohemia, the Count Elector of the Palatinate, the Duke Elector of Saxony, and the Margrave Elector of Brandenburg as Imperial Electors. This significant role meant that the Archbishoprics of Mainz, Cologne, and Trier were highly prized political appointments, particularly at a time when it was expected that an imperial election might be imminent, as was the case from around 1513: Emperor Maximilian had suffered an accident in 1501 which left him in chronic pain; from 1514 his coffin accompanied him on all his travels.10 The election and appointment of Richard von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads as Archbishop-Elector of Trier in 1513, of Albert of Brandenburg as Archbishop-Elector of Mainz and Primate of Germany in 1514, and Herman von Wied as Archbishop of Cologne in 1515 gave each of these three men, the families from which they came, and the territories over which they ruled, a central role in the 1519 imperial election. The Archbishop of Trier, whose archdiocese bordered on, and in places extended into, France, had been persuaded to cast his vote for the French king, François I, although he may not have done so. The Archbishop of Cologne probably supported Charles V, and in 1520 would crown him in Aachen. Key players were the Margraves of Brandenburg. Albert of Brandenburg not only held the office of Archbishop-Elector of Mainz, but had also since 1513 been Archbishop of Magdeburg and administrator of the Diocese of Halberstadt; his elder brother Joachim was Elector of Brandenburg. The brothers held two of the seven votes in the imperial election, but they also exercised authority (spiritual, temporal, or both) over a vast swathe of the German lands. It was within the Diocese of Brandenburg, which lay in the Archdiocese of Magdeburg and thus fell under the jurisdiction of Albert of Brandenburg, that Luther initiated his protest against indulgences in 1517, perhaps fueled in part by anger at the Archbishop’s use of an indulgence campaign to pay off the debts incurred in obtaining a second Archbishopric, that of Mainz, a double office forbidden by canon law.11 That the Cardinal Archbishop’s indulgence campaign was not actually preached in Wittenberg, but only on the other side of the river Elbe, indicates the authority which even before the Reformation was being claimed by Frederick the Wise to direct church life in Wittenberg.

The Requirement that Bishops Be of Noble Birth

The names of the three Archbishop Electors (specifically, the “von”) reveal their noble status, and this was common to all German bishops. Bishops were elected by members of their cathedral chapter. However, appointment to that chapter was in no way an open process, but was carefully controlled and increasingly restricted to the sons of noble families. In Bamberg, for instance, in the period between 1399, when commoners were excluded from the chapter, and 1556, 109 of the 315 canons were drawn from twenty-two local families, but 92 of these came from just ten families.12 The chapter elected the prince-bishop, and between 1503 until 1598, the bishop was always a former member of the chapter.13 From the early 16th century, only hereditary imperial knights were accepted as members of Bamberg’s chapter.14 This reflected a development common to almost all the German dioceses: the turn of the 16th century saw an increasing focus on the nobility of cathedral canons. In Mainz, in 1500, the chapter of the archdiocese stipulated, and a papal privilege confirmed, that a candidate for entry into any cathedral chapter in the archdiocese must be able to demonstrate four noble agnates, that is, to show that both his parents, and both his grandmothers were from recognized noble families: that is, a candidate must be at least third-generation nobility.15 Bamberg followed suit, imposing a requirement for four agnates in 1514. Cologne’s requirements were even stricter: from the later 15th century, clerical canons were required to hold a doctorate in theology and noble canons had to demonstrate sixteen agnates, that is, that they had noble parents, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers, and were thus descended from at least four generations of nobility.16 By 1608, Bamberg’s chapter, following Würzburg and other cathedral chapters across the Holy Roman Empire, was requiring eight agnates for admission (noble parents, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers), and by the end of the 17th century, this requirement had been raised to sixteen in most German dioceses.17 One exception was Breslau, which required, not a demonstration of noble birth, but a completed course of academic study and a good understanding of both canon and civil law: even in Breslau, it was not expected that canons and episcopal candidates should be devout or theologically well-educated, but they must be suitable to undertake ecclesiastical administration and reach legal judgements.18 In most German dioceses, however, the effect of these criteria was to bar anyone but a son of the highest nobility from exercising a leading position in the Church.

The Preaching Role of Suffragan Bishops

This increasingly strict criterion of nobility reflects the fact that, as Hans-Jürgen Brandt observes, the late medieval German prince-bishop understood himself “first and foremost as ruler, as Landesfürst.”19 In general, the prince-bishops delegated their spiritual responsibilities to suffragan bishops, of which in the period 1198–1431 Germany had hundreds, compared to five in Italian dioceses, six in Spain and Portugal, and eleven in France.20 Many of the suffragan bishops were members of religious orders: of the thirty-two known in Constance, seventeen were friars and twelve monks; of eighteen in Erfurt, all belonged to a religious order and fourteen were friars, the majority Dominicans.21 Unlike the prince-bishops, whose main qualification, at least in most cases, was their birth, many of the suffragan bishops were well qualified in theology: of the twenty-five suffragans in Paderborn who were friars, eleven held a doctorate in theology, and there were probably others whose degree was not recorded.22 Suffragan bishops were also expected to lead a disciplined religious and moral life, and to exercise the cure of souls on behalf of the prince-bishop.23 As Brandt points out, this division of labor laid the foundation for the Protestant summepiscopate, in which the prince functioned as (emergency) bishop, delegating his spiritual powers to superintendents and ecclesiastical visitors; by the late 16th century, in the German lands, “the Catholics had a bishop who was primarily their prince; the Protestants had a Prince who was also their bishop.”24 Prince-bishops were expected to be rulers rather than pastors, and the requirement that they prove their nobility was intended to ensure that they could fulfil this responsibility.

Secular Rulers and Their Spiritual Jurisdiction

Nobility was rooted in family relationships and networks, and in some dioceses, these would prove more powerful than the confessional differences that arose during the 16th century. In Bamberg, Richard Ninness has found, many imperial knightly families became Lutheran, but their sons continued to be appointed to the cathedral chapter, and for much of the 16th century it was possible “for Lutheran officials to hold offices in a Catholic prince-bishopric” and even to be instrumental in enforcing the prince-bishop’s counter Reformation policies.25 The network of imperial knights proved a stable factor during the 16th century, and the cathedral chapter was able to hold together members of different confessions. In the diocese of Speyer, the Electors of the Palatinate held the patronage in several villages but from the introduction of the Reformation in the mid-1550s until the 1570s they paid for Catholic priests appointed by the bishop.26 Elsewhere, however, the Reformation arose from and served to exacerbate tensions which had already come into existence in the 15th century or even earlier and which had raised questions about episcopal authority. The dukes of Jülich-Berg, for instance, sought in the 15th century to reform monasteries and convents in their territories and to minimize the influence of the Archbishop of Cologne within whose diocese, and under whose spiritual jurisdiction, these territories fell.27 As patrons, the dukes held the right of appointment to many ecclesiastical posts, but did not in canon law have authority over the subsequent ministry of those appointed. However, this did not prevent them from appointing post-holders who could be expected to act to support their interests, or trying to ensure that they did so. The authority of the Archbishop of Cologne was rejected as a “foreign power,” and in the 15th century the dukes appointed a Territorial Dean (Landesdechant) who was responsible for the ecclesiastical, and thus for the spiritual, affairs of the territory.28 In the neighboring territory of Cleves, with which from 1521 Jülich-Berg would be united, the duke went so far as to claim “dux Cliviae est papa in terris suis” (“the Duke of Cleves is Pope in his own land”). As Antje Flüchter observes, this assertion did not represent reality, but it does show that contemporary German secular rulers believed themselves to hold and rightfully to exercise spiritual authority.29 In Thüringen, the 1446 Landesordnung (constitution) went so far as to forbid an appeal to “foreign spiritual powers” in disputes between clergy and laity. This measure proved to be short term, but it exemplified the deep tensions around the extent of spiritual jurisdiction.30

Conflicts between Cities and Their Bishops

These tensions could be experienced in the heartlands of the dioceses and archdioceses as well as in the secular territories which fell under the bishops’ spiritual jurisdiction. The authority of the Archbishops of Magdeburg, Mainz, and Cologne was challenged in their own cathedral cities. In the mid-15th century, the citizens of Mainz rebelled and expelled the archbishop from the city. In 1465, Adolf von Nassau, Archbishop of Mainz from 1461 to 1475, recaptured the city and forced its male inhabitants to surrender their status as citizens and submit to him as “servants.”31 Mainz’s archbishop was successful in bringing the city back under this control. The situation proved more complicated in Magdeburg and Cologne.

In Magdeburg, the city council took over the juridical and administrative oversight of the city from the archbishop as early as 1294.32 Through the later middle ages, challenges to the Archbishop’s authority over the city arose in connection with the growth in the economic and political significance of the cities of the Hanseatic league and their patrician families, through the assertion of independence on the part of the cathedral chapter, and as a result of the influence of the Electors of Brandenburg and Saxony over the appointment of successive archbishops.33 The role of the cathedral chapter was key: while during the 14th century it had sided at times with the city council against the archbishop and at times with the archbishop against the city council, by the 16th century the chapter favored a relationship to Brandenburg while the city council sought closer relationships to Saxony.34 Ultimately, after several years of military conflict and a siege, the city council prevailed: in 1561, Archbishop Sigismund von Brandenburg declared for the Reformation, and the Erzstift followed suit in 1567.35 In 1648, under the Peace of Westphalia, the secular territories of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg were incorporated into the lands of the Elector of Brandenburg.36

From 1475, when Cologne received recognition as a free imperial city, the city’s council rejected the authority of the Archbishop of Cologne. While Hermann von Hesse, Administrator of the Diocese from 1473 and Archbishop from 1480 to 1508, was consecrated as Archbishop on Cologne Cathedral on February 6, 1481, relationships subsequently deteriorated, and his successor, Philipp von Daun-Oberstein, Archbishop from 1508 to 1515, was consecrated and enthroned in Bonn.37 Cologne’s council, although it was prepared to recognize him as their bishop, was not prepared to accept him as the city’s territorial ruler and consequently refused to swear obeisance to him, traditionally a part of the enthronement in the cathedral. Von Daun-Oberstein was never officially received into the city as Archbishop, although he was buried in the cathedral. Similarly, Hermann von Wied, elected Archbishop in 1515, was ordained deacon and priest on May 13, the day his election was confirmed. On May 20, Pope Leo X approved the archiepiscopal pallium on condition that von Wied be consecrated bishop. The council stipulated that von Wied should recognize their rights and privileges and that he should confirm their independence from the Erzstift. Like his predecessors, von Wied refused to accept this stipulation. His consecration took place in the Minster in Bonn in 1518, and he was eventually formally received into Cologne in 1522, after years of negotiation initiated by the emperor and overseen by the Archbishop of Trier, but his relationship with the city council always remained tense.38

The (Arch)bishop and His Chapter

However, the Archbishop of Cologne did not only encounter difficulties with the city council. Relationships between the Archbishop and the Erzstift were also contested, complicated by the close associations between its chapter, the University of Cologne, and Cologne’s clergy.39 Moreover, Cologne’s archbishop, in common with others elected to high office across the German lands, including Emperor Charles V, was bound by a Wahlkapitulation, or electoral stipulation, an agreement signed on his election which within the (arch-)diocese defined relationships between the (arch-)bishop and the estates. Family interests helped to ensure that the Wahlkapitulation was observed, for breaking it generally resulted in the exclusion of other family members from future posts for years to come. As Andreea Badea observes, because the benefices administered by the chapter of the Erzstift offered an important source of security to the younger sons of local noble families, and because the Archbishop of Cologne was appointed from each of these families in turn, the Wahlkapitulation formed an effective means of regulating the relationship between the Archbishop, chapter, and estates.40 In the course of the 16th century, von Wied would seek to introduce a moderate Reformation into his archdiocese, in part an attempt to make of the Archbishopric a hereditary electorship.41 Despite considerable support from the Landtag and the estates, these efforts at reform would prove unsuccessful and in 1546 von Wied was dismissed from his post and excommunicated.42

Similar tensions existed in Augsburg, where the medieval bishops had exercised important civic functions, especially in the Bischofsstadt, which adjoined the cathedral. However, the bishop lost much of his power in the 13th century, when Augsburg became a free imperial city, and by the 1500s the bishop had moved his residence to Dillingen and had no official part in the city’s government, although he retained the right of appointment to the cathedral and seven other churches in the city.43 In the 1510s, Augsburg’s Bishop, Christoph von Stadion encouraged humanist-trained preachers in the cathedral church, appointing Johannes Oecolampadius in 1518, although he later censored Urbanus Rhegius and other preachers who supported Luther.44 In 1537, the city’s Protestant church order forced von Stadion and his clergy to move from Augsburg to Dillingen. The city eventually became bi-confessional.45

Bishops and Church Reform

In Basel, similarly, the bishop, Christoph von Utenheim (c. 1450–1527; Bishop of Basel 1502–1527) had a strong interest in Reform, having studied theology and canon law at Basel and Erfurt and been rector of University of Basel before being elected bishop in 1502. In 1503 he called a reforming synod with support of Humanist Jakob Wimpfeling, but the reforms it suggested were opposed by chapter. Von Utenheim continued his attempts to regenerate the life of the diocesan clergy, in 1515 inviting Wolfgang Capito and in 1518 Johannes Oekolampadius to serve as cathedral preachers. He had a strong interest in Humanism and was a friend and supporter of Erasmus, who from 1517/18 was living in Basel. In 1521, Basel’s city council rejected his authority over the city. Von Utenheim sought to secure his rights over the territory of Basel’s Hochstift, and in 1524 called a synod with the bishops of Lausanne and Constance in the hope of finding a response to the Reformation. As the Basel council showed increasing support for the Reformation, von Utenheim and the chapter moved to Pruntrut, where he died in 1527, the year before the Reformation was finally introduced into Basel.46

In Augsburg and Basel, reform-minded bishops invited in preachers whose own attitudes to reform later worked against those bishops. In many other cities, by contrast, the Reformation emerged in opposition to the authority of the bishop, as city councils appointed preachers who supported the councils’ wish for change. In Constance, for instance, there had long been tensions between the council and the bishop which had restricted the bishop’s authority over the city.47 The introduction of the Reformation in 1526 led to the expulsion of the bishop and chapter, who moved to Meersburg. However, twenty years later, when the city’s mayor, Thomas Blarer, rejected the Augsburg interim, the city was attacked by imperial, Habsburg, troops; the council capitulated and agreed to recatholicization, and the bishop and chapter returned. In consequence, Constance lost its status as a free imperial city.48 Other examples, such as Strasbourg and Zürich, are well known,49 and it has long been recognized that cities proved particularly fruitful ground for the spread of Reformation ideas.50 Stephan Laux observes that across the German lands, from the mid-15th century or even before, bishops found themselves confronted with a growing expectation among citizens that they or their elected representatives should have jurisdiction over their affairs, and that this led to a good deal of instability as city councils sought to assert their independence over and against their bishops.51 Moreover, he argues that, unless a local ruler had intervened, bishops had found it much easier to interfere in the affairs of small and medium-sized towns, even if they were not episcopal seats, especially if they were made up of a single parish; opportunities to effect change might be grasped by religious instances, such a monasteries, convents, or other religious foundations, by deans or local incumbents, by local nobles, or by city magistrates.52 The rights of clergy and the powers of patronage often helped to determine the outcome of local conflicts.53 J. Jeffery Tyler suggests that the tensions arose in large part from tensions between the nobility and the up-and-coming merchant class: “In an age when cities strove to become islands of self-regulated trade and self-rule, bishops were ever-present reminders of the legacy of territorial lordship within their walls and the persistent threat of the landed nobility without.”54 Even the bishops who were committed to the cause of reforming the Church founded themselves caught up in the net of these political and economic differences.

Patronage and the Power of Appointment

However, tensions did not only arise between bishops and city councils. It has already been seen that in Jülich-Berg, Cleves, and Thüringen, “secular” territorial rulers were claiming the right not only to appoint to ecclesiastical posts, but to reform and regulate clergy and monastic foundations. A similar pattern can be observed in the Duchy of Nassau-Dillenburg, which was divided between the authority of the Archdioceses of Mainz and Trier: the parishes in Siegen belonged to Arfeld deanery and came under the authority of the church of St. Stephan in Mainz, while the parishes in Dillenburg belonged to the archdeaconry of St Lubentius in Dietkirchen, and thus to the Archdiocese of Trier. The Archbishops exercised their jurisdiction through visitations and church courts. As in Jülich-Berg, the dukes held the patronage of many parishes and religious foundations, which included the right of collation, but they also passed laws and enacted regulations which affected church practice. When Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau-Dillenburg forbade the sale of indulgences in 1518, this was one of a series of such regulations which sought to control and unify ecclesiastical practice in the territory.55 In introducing the Reformation through a series of church orders between 1529 and 1537, the duke saw himself “as responsible for the restitution of an ‘old order’ which was supposed to have existed in earlier times.”56 The 1537 “Instruction für die ainfaltigen pfarherren und kirchendiener” (“Instruction for simple pastors and servants of the church”) regarded the pastors and preachers as mediators between the territory’s rulers and the people, who were responsible not only for teaching and preaching the Gospel but also for ensuring that the people complied with laws and regulations; pastors and preachers were thus the agents of church and civic discipline, overseen by visitors and superintendents, and ultimately by the duke himself.57 The divided episcopal jurisdiction over Nassau-Dillenburg had been replaced by an ecclesiastical hierarchy that allowed temporal and spiritual authority over the territory to be integrated. Between 1572 and 1577, the system of visitors and superintendents, which by then had come to be regarded as Lutheran, was replaced by a Reformed, synodical polity that served the same purpose.58

Ecclesiastical and Spiritual Power in Wittenberg

In early-16th-century Wittenberg, as Natalie Krentz has shown,59 four key players, or groups of players, interacted to exercise spiritual authority: the Bishop of Brandenburg and the Archbishop of Magdeburg, in whose diocese and archdiocese Wittenberg lay; the clergy and religious based in the town, some of whom were students; the town’s council; and the Elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise, the patron of the Allerheiligenstift, which was becoming the religious center of the town to which he had chosen to move his court.60 Frederick’s predecessors had negotiated papal privileges for the Stift, so that since the 14th century it had stood directly under papal authority; by 1400 these privileges had been extended to Wittenberg’s parish church. After Frederick’s foundation of the University of Wittenberg in 1502, it too was included in the papal privileges, and from 1507, the chapter of the Allerheiligenstift’s chapter was largely made up of university professors. By the early decades of the 16th century, therefore, the Bishop of Brandenburg’s authority in Wittenberg was already severely curtailed.61 Perhaps in protest, he several times sought to place Wittenberg under an interdict, banning the celebration of the mass and other liturgical rites, which in practice had little effect on Wittenberg’s liturgical life but led to ongoing legal conflict.62 The legal confusion which surrounded the exercise of spiritual authority in Wittenberg was further complicated by the Elector’s role in the Allerheiligenstift, through which he presented himself not only as a worldly but also as a spiritual leader, and the growing tensions over rights and privileges (for instance, the right to carry a weapon) which arose between Wittenberg’s citizens and the university students, and particularly students who were clergy or who were of noble birth.63 Disagreements about legitimate spiritual authority had thus begun to impinge on Wittenberg’s ecclesiastical life long before Luther was sent there in 1508 to study theology, and Krentz argues that the conflicts which arose in connection with the introduction of the Reformation into Wittenberg by Karlstadt and Melanchthon in 1521 and 1522 initially showed striking continuities to the earlier instances of student unrest.64 However, the reforms introduced under Luther’s directions in Wittenberg’s parish church and the Schloßkirche and the Allerheiligenstift during 1523 and 1524, undertaken with the support of the town council and of key figures in the university, thus posed a challenge not only to the old episcopal order but also to the spiritual authority of Frederick the Wise.65 From 1525, after the death of Frederick the Wise and with the support of his successor, his brother Johannes, it became possible to introduce a common liturgical rite across Electoral Saxony: the Deutsche Messe became key to the new evangelical identity; the Allerheiligenstift was closed and Schloßkirche integrated into the Wittenberg parish.66 The case of Wittenberg demonstrates very clearly the limitations that could be placed on episcopal authority by a ruler who was able to place a religious foundation directly under papal jurisdiction.

Abbots, Abbesses, and Extra-Episcopal Territories

Papal authority, therefore, could bypass an archbishop or bishop, and there were numerous ecclesiastical territories in which bishops played little or no role. These included primarily a number of ancient abbeys and collegiate foundations, such as Fulda, whose abbots were recognized as Furstäbte, who functioned as independent territorial rulers, but also effectively as bishops. Such functions could also be exercised by women: the abbesses of the Frauenstifte of Essen, founded around 845, and Quedlinburg, founded in 936 by Emperor Otto I on behalf of his mother Mathilda, the widow of Emperor Henry I (the Lion), drew their authority directly from the pope and emperor. From around 1230, the Abbess of Essen’s Stift was herself recognized a Fürstäbtissin with jurisdiction over the Stift, the city, and the Essener Land (territory).67 For centuries, Essen’s entire ruling class was female, constituted by the canonesses of the Münster,68 for although the city had been granted imperial rights in 1377, the council found it financially advantageous to recognize the abbess as its ruler, rather than paying taxes to the Emperor.69 When relationships between the city and the abbess soured after 1489, the city council chose to place the city under the jurisdiction of the Duke of Cleves, whose territory bordered on Essen, rather than looking directly to the Emperor.70 However, the patronage of the town’s parish churches, St. Gertruden (now the Marktkirche) and St. Johannes, remained with the Frauenstift, and the benefices were generally held by the Stift’s male canons.71 This remained the case even after the introduction of the Reformation into Essen in 1563: although the influence of the abbess and the Stift was curtailed, their rights of appointment passed, not to the council, but to the Dukes of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, who in recognition of the council’s wishes sought to identify evangelical clergy. Some of these nominations, however, proved more reformed than Lutheran in their theology, leading to conflicts with the staunchly Lutheran Heinrich Barenbroich who was favored by the council.72 The Stift and its territory, in contrast, continued Catholic. Some of its abbesses were at least sympathetic to the Protestant cause: Katharina von Tecklenburg (abbess 1551–1560), Irmgard von Diepholz (1561–1575), and Elisabeth von Manderscheid-Blankenstein-Gerolstein (1575–1578), all showed Protestant sympathies, but followed clearly Catholic politics in their leadership of the Stift; the Abbess Margarete Elisabeth von Manderscheid-Blankenstein (1598–1604) was Reformed; and Elisabeth von Bergh-s’Heerenberg (1601–1614), who had been brought up Calvinist, converted on her election as Abbess.73 From 1563 until 1803, when the Stift was closed by Napoleon, the Catholic Stift and Land coexisted with the Protestant city, with all citizens often joining in the Stift’s Palm Sunday and Corpus Christi processions, which passed from the Essener Land to the Minster through the town.74

Dioceses and the Reformation

It is apparent that the German Church on the eve of the Reformation was characterized by complex relationships that shaped responses to the Reformation and the shape of the territories and churches which subsequently emerged. The importance of local relationships in determining those responses can be illustrated by the example of Franz von Waldeck, simultaneously Bishop of Münster, Bishop of Osnabrück, and Administrator of Minden. These three territories responded quite differently to the Reformation. Minden, led by its city council, became Protestant; Münster, after the reformers appointed by the council turned radical and embarked on a disastrous attempt to establish an Anabaptist New Jerusalem in the city, remained Catholic; while Osnabrück became bi-confessional.75 As Walter Ziegler has affirmed, responses to the Reformation can only be understood in the context of a particular city or Land.76 Ziegler argues that the political status of a territory or city was not in itself decisive: thus almost all imperial cities accepted the Reformation, but some—notably Cologne—did not.77 He suggests that, with the exception of Saxony, territories which had universities also tended not to be early supporters of the Reformation; Württemberg would offer another exception, although it did not introduce the Reformation until 1534.78 On the whole, Ziegler finds, the territories which became Protestant had been more recently founded, were deemed as politically less important within the Empire, and often those which lay at a distance from the core Habsburg lands.79 However, the distance of a territory from the episcopal seat seems also to have been important: thus Württemberg belonged to the diocese of Constance, whose bishop was caught up in negotiations relating to Swiss trade and Austrian power struggles, and who was also facing challenges from reformers in his own episcopal city. Württemberg (and, one could add, Zürich, which also belonged to the diocese of Constance) probably felt to the bishop distant and unimportant.80 Similarly, Hesse, which early declared for the Reformation, belonged to the “distant diocese of Mainz.”81 Territories which were divided between dioceses also proved susceptible to the Reformation, which could offer a new, unified, church identity. Nassau-Dillenburg and Braunschweig, each of which fell across two dioceses, have been discussed. Lüneburg straddled three dioceses: Hildesheim, Minden, and Verden; the territories of Ansbach-Bayreuth belonged to four: Würzburg, Bamberg, Eichstätt, and Regensburg; finally, Electoral Saxony itself lay across the meeting point of the mid-German dioceses.82 Central to all of this is the relationship between princely families and bishops. The position of territorial rulers and bishops in imperial law, and the relationship of the territorial ruler to the bishop proved key to determining a territory’s response to the Reformation.83

Ziegler’s conclusions raise an interesting (albeit purely speculative) question: Would the Reformation in Wittenberg have taken the same form had Ernst of Saxony not died in 1513 and been replaced as Archbishop of Magdeburg by Albert of Brandenburg? The answer to this question cannot be known. What can be said is that long before Luther drafted his ninety-five theses and sent them to his archbishop, the complex relationships between territorial rulers and bishops across the Holy Roman Empire were already prompting questions about the relationship between temporal and spiritual power and questions about who should rightly exercise the latter. If bishops were also princes, why should princes or city councils not also be bishops? This was a question which rulers and city councils were already asking themselves in the 15th century. The Reformation offered a theological and ecclesiastical response to that question which proved very attractive to some of those who had long been asking it.

Review of the Literature

There has been no comparative study of German dioceses before the Reformation. The Vatican kept good records of who was appointed to bishoprics and how long they served, and these have been edited and published, forming an invaluable resource: Hierarchia catholica medii aevi sive summorum pontificum, S. R. E. cardinalium, ecclesiarum antistitum series, vol. 3, Saeculum XVI ab anno 1503 complectens, ed. Conrad Eubel (Regensburg: Monasterii, 1910); Repertorium Germanicum IX/1 (Paul II. 1464–1471), eds. Hubert Höing, Heiko Leerhoff, and Michael Reimann (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2000). Many individual studies of individual dioceses or (more frequently) of individual territories exist. Natalie Krentz’s detailed account of the situation in Wittenberg makes clear just how fruitful such studies can be in revealing the factors that shaped the Reformation in a particular territory. However, information about the patterns of interaction and relationship in particular territories must often be gleaned from the introductory sections of (for instance) social historical studies. Thus, Flüchter’s study of celibacy in Jülich-Berg opens with a careful presentation of the complex relationships between the duke and the Archbishop of Cologne, since this determines how decisions about marriage were made and by whom.

Further Reading

For lists of German bishops and dioceses:

Hierarchia catholica medii aevi sive summorum pontificum, S. R. E. cardinalium, ecclesiarum antistitum series, vol. 3, Saeculum XVI ab anno 1503 complectens. Edited by Conrad Eubel. Regensburg: Monasterii, 1910.Find this resource:

Repertorium Germanicum IX/1 (Paul II. 1464–1471). Edited by Hubert Höing, Heiko Leerhoff, and Michael Reimann. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2000.Find this resource:

Badea, Andreea. Kurfürstliche Präeminenz, Landesherrschaft und Reform: Das Scheitern der Kölner Reformation unter Hermann von Wied. Münster: Aschendorff, 2009.Find this resource:

Brandt, Hans-Jürgen. “Furstbischof und Weihbischof im Spätmittelalter: Zur Darstellung der sacri ministerii summa des reichskirchlichen Episkopats.” In Ecclesia militans: Studien zur Konzilien- und Reformationsgeschichte; Remigius Bäumer zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet, vol. 2, Zur Reformationsgeschichte. Edited by Walter Brandmüller, 1–16. Paderborn: Schöningh, 1988.Find this resource:

Flüchter, Antje. Der Zölibat zwischen Devianz und Norm: Kirchenpolitik und Gemeindealltag in den Herzogtümern Jülich und Berg im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert. Köln: Böhlau, 2006.Find this resource:

Franzen, August. Bischof und Reformation: Erzbischof Hermann von Wied in Köln vor der Entscheidung zwischen Reform und Reformation. Münster: Aschendorff, 1972.Find this resource:

Fuhs, Maria. Hermann IV. von Hessen: Erzbischof von Köln 1480–1508. Köln: Böhlau, 1999.Find this resource:

Hanson, Michele Zelinsky. Religious Identity in an Early Reformation Community: Augsburg, 1517 to 1555. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009.Find this resource:

Helbich, Christian. Pax et concordia: Erasmische Reformkonzepte, humanistisches Bildungsideal und städtische Kirchenpolitik in Dortmund, Essen und Bielefeld im 16. Jahrhundert. Münster: Aschendorff, 2012.Find this resource:

Janssen, Wilhelm. Geschichte des Erzbistums Köln, vol. 2/1, Das Erzbistum Köln im späten Mittelalter: 1191–1515. Köln: Bachem, 1995.Find this resource:

Kaufmann, Thomas. Das Ende der Reformation: Magdeburgs “Herrgotts Kanzlei” (1548–1551/2). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.Find this resource:

Kießling, Rolf. Bürgerliche Gesellschaft und Kirche in Augsburg im Spätmittelalter. Augsburg: Mühberger, 1971.Find this resource:

Krentz, Natalie. Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit: Die frühe Reformation in der Residenzstadt Wittenberg (1500–1533). Spätmittelalter, Humanismus, Reformation 74. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014.Find this resource:

Küppers-Braun, Ute. “Essener Fürstäbtissinnen und Stiftsdamen im Zeitalter der Konfessionalisierung.” Jahrbuch für Evangelische Kirchengeschichte des Rheinlands 63 (2014): 29–47.Find this resource:

Laux, Stephan. Reformationsversuche in Kurköln (1542–1548): Fallstudien zu einer Strukturgeschichte landstädtischer Reformation (Neuss, Kempen, Andernach, Linz). Münster: Aschendorff, 2001.Find this resource:

Moeller, Bernd. Reichsstadt und Reformation. 2d ed. Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1987. English translation of the first edition: Imperial Cities and the Reformation: Three Essays. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972.Find this resource:

Neufeld, Karl H. Fürstbischof und Reformation: Der Fall Osnabrück 1543–48. Hamburg: Kovač, 2014.Find this resource:

Ninness, Richard J. Between Opposition and Collaboration: Nobles, Bishops, and the German Reformations in the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg, 1555–1619. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011.Find this resource:

Schmidt, Sebastian. Glaube—Herrschaft—Disziplin: Konfessionalisierung und Alltagskultur in den Ämtern Siegen und Dillenburg (1538–1683). Paderborn: Schöningh, 2005.Find this resource:

Tyler, J. Jeffery. Lord of the Sacred City: The episcopus exclusus in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999.Find this resource:

Ziegler, Walter. “Territorium und Reformation: Überlegungen zur Entscheidung der deutschen Länder für oder gegen Luther.” In Ecclesia militans: Studien zur Konzilien- und Reformationsgeschichte; Remigius Bäumer zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet, vol. 2, Zur Reformationsgeschichte. Edited by Walter Brandmüller, 161–178. Paderborn: Schöningh, 1988.Find this resource:


(1.) Figure 2 names fifty-six, but includes Hamburg which in 1500 was part of Bremen. Neufeld refers to “about 53 prince-bishoprics,” apart from abbeys and other foundations which held independent territorial rights (Karl H. Neufeld, Fürstbischof und Reformation: Der Fall Osnabrück 1543–48 [Hamburg: Kovač, 2014], 14). The Repertorium Germanicum IX/1 (Paul II. 1464–1471), eds. Hubert Höing, Heiko Leerhoff, and Michael Reimann (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2000), xi–xii, lists seventy-two “German” dioceses, but many were on the borders of or outside the Holy Roman Empire: Riga and Posnan today lie in Latvia and Poland; Schleswig, by contrast, is within the borders of modern Germany.

(2.) Hans-Jürgen Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof im Spätmittelalter: Zur Darstellung der sacri ministerii summa des reichskirchlichen Episkopats,” in Ecclesia militans: Studien zur Konzilien- und Reformationsgeschichte; Remigius Bäumer zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet, vol. 2, Zur Reformationsgeschichte, ed. Walter Brandmüller (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1988), 1–16, at 1.

(3.) J. Jeffery Tyler, Lord of the Sacred City: The episcopus exclusus in Late Medieval and Early Modern Germany (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1999), 23–24.

(4.) For a map showing the Archdiocese of Cologne, the Erzstift, and other territories, including Jülich-Berg, Cleves, and Essen, see Wilhelm Janssen, Geschichte des Erzbistums Köln, vol. 2/1, Das Erzbistum Köln im späten Mittelalter: 1191–1515 (Köln: Bachem, 1995), 36–37.

(5.) For instance, Nassau-Dillenburg fell in part under the Archbishop of Mainz and in part under the Archbishop of Trier. Similarly, the river Oker, which runs through the city of Braunschweig, marks the boundary between the dioceses of Halberstadt and Hildesheim.

(6.) For a discussion of episcopacy in England and Scotland and the relationship between bishops and the crown, see Charlotte Methuen, “Ordering the Reformation Church in England and Scotland,” Keynote lecture given at the REFO500 conference, Copenhagen, May 2016.

(7.) Neufeld, Fürstbischof und Reformation, 14–15.

(8.) Kathryn A. Edwards, “‘And Blood Rained from the Sky’: Creating a Burgundian Identity after the Fall of Burgundy,” in Politics and Reformations: Essays in Honor of Thomas A. Brady, Jr., vol. 2, Communities, Polities, Nations, and Empires, ed. Christopher Ocker (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007), 346–357.

(9.) Until the establishment of the Archbishoprics of St. Andrews and Glasgow in 1472 and 1492, respectively, the Scottish dioceses had been in a similar situation: ecclesiastically they lay within the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of York, often a key political figure in the court of the English king, which whom Scotland was not infrequently at war. Often, therefore, the Scottish bishops preferred to appeal directly to the pope.

(10.) Andrew Petegree, Europe in the Sixteenth Century (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002), 14; and Gerhard Benecke, Maximilian I (1459–1519): An Analytical Biography (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 10.

(11.) There is some debate about when Luther realized this: he laid out the chronology (retrospectively) in Against Hanswurst (LW 41:231–233; WA 51:529). Cf. Martin Brecht, Martin Luther (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 1: 178–179.

(12.) Richard J. Ninness, Between Opposition and Collaboration: Nobles, Bishops, and the German Reformations in the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg, 1555–1619 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2011), 27.

(13.) See the list of bishops in Hierarchia catholica medii aevi sive summorum pontificum, S. R. E. cardinalium, ecclesiarum antistitum series, vol. 3, Saeculum XVI ab anno 1503 complectens, ed. Conrad Eubel (Regensburg: Monasterii, 1910), 142.

(14.) Ninness, Between Opposition and Collaboration, 19, 25.

(15.) Ninness, Between Opposition and Collaboration, 25.

(16.) Andreea Badea, Kurfürstliche Präeminenz, Landesherrschaft und Reform: Das Scheitern der Kölner Reformation unter Hermann von Wied (Münster: Aschendorff, 2009), 32.

(17.) Ninness, Between Opposition and Collaboration, 25–26.

(18.) Alfred Sabisch, Die Bischöfe von Breslau und die Reformation in Schlesien: Jakob von Salza (†1539) und Balthazar von Promnitz (†1562) in ihrer glaubensmässigen und kirchenpolitischen Auseinandersetzung mit den Anhängern der Reformation (Münster: Aschendorff, 1975), 15.

(19.) Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof,” 7.

(20.) Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof,” 11.

(21.) Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof,” 12.

(22.) Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof,” 14.

(23.) Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof,” 15.

(24.) Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof,” 17.

(25.) Ninness, Between Opposition and Collaboration, 124–131, 202–203.

(26.) Marc R. Forster, The Counter-Reformation in the villages: religion and reform in the Bishopric of Speyer, 1560–1720 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 13.

(27.) Antje Flüchter, Der Zölibat zwischen Devianz und Norm: Kirchenpolitik und Gemeindealltag in den Herzogtümern Jülich und Berg im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (Köln: Böhlau, 2006), 95. Compare also Otto R. Redlich, Jülich-Bergische Kirchenpolitik am Ausgange des Mittelalters und in der Reformationszeit, 2 vols. (Bonn: Gesellschaft für Rheinische Geschichtskunde, 1907–1915).

(28.) Flüchter, Zölibat zwischen Devianz und Norm, 96–97.

(29.) Flüchter, Zölibat zwischen Devianz und Norm, 96–97.

(30.) Flüchter, Zölibat zwischen Devianz und Norm, 99.

(31.) Tyler, Lord of the Sacred City, 20.

(32.) Thomas Kaufmann, Das Ende der Reformation: Magdeburgs “Herrgotts Kanzlei” (1548–1551/2) (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003), 15.

(33.) Kaufmann, Das Ende der Reformation, 120.

(34.) Kaufmann, Das Ende der Reformation, 125.

(35.) Anja Moritz, Interim und Apokalypse: die religiösen Vereinheitlichungsversuche Karls V. im Spiegel der magdeburgischen Publizistik 1548–1551/52 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009); and Franz Schrader, “Die landesherrlichen Visitationen und die katholischen Restbestände im Erzbistum Magdeburg 1561–1651,” in idem, Reformation und katholische Klöster: Beiträge zur Reformation und zur Geschichte der klösterlichen Restbestände in den ehemaligen Bistümern Magdeburg und Halberstadt (Leipzig: St. Benno-Verlag, 1973), 85–108, especially 85, 89–90.

(36.) Ernst Hinrichs, Staat ohne Nation: Brandenburg und Preußen unter den Hohenzollern (1415–1871) (Bielefeld: Aisthesis Verlag, 2014), 87.

(37.) Maria Fuhs, Hermann IV. von Hessen: Erzbischof von Köln 1480–1508 (Köln: Böhlau, 1999), 102.

(38.) August Franzen, Bischof und Reformation: Erzbischof Hermann von Wied in Köln vor der Entscheidung zwischen Reform und Reformation (Münster: Aschendorff, 1972), 19–21. It is, however, notable, that he was consecrated. Brandt has found that not one of the seven Archbishops who held office in the century from the mid-16th to the mid-17th century was consecrated, while of the fourteen Archbishops who ruled Cologne between 1250 and 1500, only one was not consecrated. Brandt, “Furstbischof und Weihbischof,” 4. This raises interesting questions about the changing perception of the role of the prince-bishop and the association between consecration and pastoral responsibilities.

(39.) Badea, Kurfürstliche Präeminenz, Landesherrschaft und Reform, 32.

(40.) Badea, Kurfürstliche Präeminenz, Landesherrschaft und Reform, 33.

(41.) See Franzen, Bischof und Reformation, 80–93; and Badea, Kurfürstliche Präeminenz, Landesherrschaft und Reform, 17–77.

(42.) Franzen, Bischof und Reformation, 104–105.

(43.) Rolf Kießling, Bürgerliche Gesellschaft und Kirche in Augsburg im Spätmittelalter (Augsburg: Mühberger, 1971), 24–31, and map of Augsburg, 33. For the complex relationships between the bishops of Augsburg Constance and their cathedral cities, see Tyler, Lord of the Sacred City.

(44.) Michele Zelinsky Hanson, Religious Identity in an Early Reformation Community: Augsburg, 1517 to 1555 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009), 12.

(45.) Hanson, Religious Identity, 12.

(46.) Bruce Gordon, The Swiss Reformation (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 2002), 87, 108–112, 170–173.

(47.) Tyler, Lord of the Sacred City.

(48.) Hanson, Religious Identity, traces the processes by which this happened.

(49.) Zürich lay in the Dioceses of Constance, and Zürich’s city council was keen to exert its authority against that of the bishop, protecting those who consumed sausages during Lent 1519 against prosecution under canon law, and initiating theological disputations. In the free imperial city of Strasbourg, the council initiated reforms of the city’s religious houses in the late 15th century, seeking to improve the care of the poor and sick, and also took action against the diocese with regard to “immoral” clergy. When Martin Bucer married, the former nun Elisabeth Silbereisen took Martin Bucer’s part against the bishop. Strasbourg’s city council supported the introduction of the Reformation into the city, and the bishop was not able to prevent this. See for Zürich, Gordon, Swiss Reformation, especially 46–85; for Strasbourg, Lorna Jane Abray, The People’s Reformation: Magistrates, Clergy, and Commons in Strasbourg, 1500–1598 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985).

(50.) See, for instance, Bernd Moeller, Reichsstadt und Reformation, 2d ed. (Berlin: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 1987). English translation of the first edition: Imperial Cities and the Reformation: Three Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972); and Peter Blickle, Kommunalisierung und Christianisierung: Voraussetzungen und Folgen der Reformation 1400–1600 (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1989).

(51.) Stephan Laux, Reformationsversuche in Kurköln (1542–1548): Fallstudien zu einer Strukturgeschichte landstädtischer Reformation (Neuss, Kempen, Andernach, Linz) (Münster: Aschendorff, 2001), 39–40.

(52.) Laux, Reformationsversuche in Kurköln, 46–47.

(53.) Laux, Reformationsversuche in Kurköln, 48.

(54.) Tyler, Lord of the Sacred City, 22.

(55.) Sebastian Schmidt, Glaube—Herrschaft—Disziplin: Konfessionalisierung und Alltagskultur in den Ämtern Siegen und Dillenburg (1538–1683) (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2005), 26–27.

(56.) Schmidt, Glaube—Herrschaft—Disziplin, 31.

(57.) Schmidt, Glaube—Herrschaft—Disziplin, 33–34.

(58.) Schmidt, Glaube—Herrschaft—Disziplin, 201–214.

(59.) Natalie Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit: Die frühe Reformation in der Residenzstadt Wittenberg (1500–1533), Spätmittelalter, Humanismus, Reformation 74 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014).

(60.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 25–33. Until 1513, the Archbishop of Magdeburg was Ernest of Saxony, Frederick the Wise’s younger brother; in 1513, after his death, Albert of Brandenburg was elected.

(61.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 32–33.

(62.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 33–63.

(63.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 121.

(64.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 142.

(65.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 320–321.

(66.) Krentz, Ritualwandel und Deutungshoheit, 369–383.

(67.) Ute Küppers-Braun, “Essener Fürstäbtissinnen und Stiftsdamen im Zeitalter der Konfessionalisierung,” Jahrbuch für Evangelische Kirchengeschichte des Rheinlands 63 (2014): 29–47, at 32.

(68.) See Ute Küppers-Braun, Macht im Frauenhand: 1000 Jahre Herrschaft adeliger Frauen in Essen (Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2002).

(69.) Christian Helbich, Pax et concordia: Erasmische Reformkonzepte, humanistisches Bildungsideal und städtische Kirchenpolitik in Dortmund, Essen und Bielefeld im 16. Jahrhundert (Münster: Aschendorff, 2012), 43–44.

(70.) Helbich, Pax et concordia, 44.

(71.) Helbich, Pax et concordia, 51.

(72.) Helbich, Pax et concordia, 198. For these developments, see also Marcel Nieden, “Reformation als Bürgerbewegung: Aspekte autonomer Kirchenreformen am Beispiel der Stadt Essen,” Jahrbuch für evangelische Kirchengeschichte des Rheinlandes 63 (2014): 1–27.

(73.) Küppers-Braun, “Essener Fürstäbtissinnen,” 34–35.

(74.) Küppers-Braun, Macht im Frauenhand, 163.

(75.) Neufeld, Fürstbischof und Reformation, 18, 23–24.

(76.) Walter Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation: Überlegungen zur Entscheidung der deutschen Länder für oder gegen Luther,” in Ecclesia militans: Studien zur Konzilien- und Reformationsgeschichte; and Remigius Bäumer zum 70. Geburtstag gewidmet, vol. 2: Zur Reformationsgeschichte, ed. Walter Brandmüller (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1988), 161–178, at 162.

(77.) Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation,” 163, 171–175.

(78.) Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation,” 170–171.

(79.) Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation,” 167–168, 174–175.

(80.) Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation,” 169.

(81.) Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation,” 169.

(82.) Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation,” 169.

(83.) Ziegler, “Territorium und Reformation,” 175.