Reformation & Wars of Religion

History of Germany between 1517 - 1617

Reformation

Lutherbibel
Martin Luther's Bible
translated into German (1534).

In the early 16th century there was much discontent in Germany occasioned by abuses such as indulgences in the Catholic Church, and a general desire for reform. In 1517 the Reformation began with the publication of Martin Luther's 95 Theses; he posted them in the town square and gave copies of them to German nobles, but it is debated whether he nailed them to the church door in Wittenberg as is commonly said. The list detailed 95 assertions Luther believed to show corruption and misguidance within the Catholic Church. One often cited example, though perhaps not Luther's chief concern, is a condemnation of the selling of indulgences; another prominent point within the 95 Theses is Luther's disagreement both with the way in which the higher clergy, especially the pope, used and abused power, and with the very idea of the pope.

In 1521 Luther was outlawed at the Diet of Worms. But the Reformation spread rapidly, helped by the Emperor Charles V's wars with France and the Turks. Hiding in the Wartburg Castle, Luther translated the Bible from Latin to German, establishing the basis of the German language. A curious fact is that Luther spoke a dialect which had minor importance in the German language of that time. After the publication of his Bible, his dialect suppressed the others and evolved into what is now the modern German.

German Peasants' War

In 1524 the German Peasants' War broke out in Swabia, Franconia and Thuringia against ruling princes and lords, following the preaching of Reformers. But the revolts, which were assisted by war-experienced noblemen like Götz von Berlichingen and Florian Geyer (in Franconia), and by the theologian Thomas Münzer (in Thuringia), were soon repressed by the territorial princes. As many as 100,000 German peasants were massacred during the revolt. With the protestation of the Lutheran princes at the Imperial Diet of Speyer (1529) and rejection of the Lutheran "Augsburg Confession" at Augsburg (1530), a separate Lutheran church emerged.

From 1545 the Counter-Reformation began in Germany. The main force was provided by the Jesuit order, founded by the Spaniard Ignatius of Loyola. Central and northeastern Germany were by this time almost wholly Protestant, whereas western and southern Germany remained predominantly Catholic. In 1547, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V defeated the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of Protestant rulers. The Peace of Augsburg in 1555 brought recognition of the Lutheran faith. But the treaty also stipulated that the religion of a state was to be that of its ruler.

The Augsburg formula preserves for half a century an uneasy peace in the German lands, while princes use their religious freedom as a form of diplomacy. In 1608/1609 the Protestant Union and the Catholic League were formed. Early in the 17th century the two sides form up in opposing blocs, each headed by a branch of the Wittelsbach family. The Wittelsbachs of the Rhine Palatinate, in southwest Germany, are Calvinist; they lead the Protestant Union, formed in 1608. The Wittelsbachs of Bavaria, just to the east, form the Catholic League in the following year.

This confrontation does not immediately lead to armed conflict - until the Protestants of distant Bohemia elect as their king, in 1619, the Calvinist Wittelsbach, Frederick V. The response by the Catholic League, in alliance with pope and emperor, becomes one of the opening encounters of the Thirty Years' War.

References: Wikipedia, Historyworld.net

Popular sites founded between 1517 and 1617 in Germany

Nordertor

The Nordertor is an old town gate in Flensburg, Germany, which was built around 1595. Today the landmark is used as a symbol for Flensburg. The town wall of Flensburg was built step by step from 1345 onwards. A town gate, named Norder Porte, was built in the northern section of the wall. At the end of the 16th century it was replaced by the Nordertor, a building with stepped gables and archway. At this time ...
Founded: 1595 | Location: Flensburg, Germany

Barth Abbey

Barth Abbey was originally a castle built around 1573 by Bogislaw XIII. After his departure, the castle was neglected, damaged in the various wars and was repaired only in a makeshift manner. In 1710/1711, it served as a court venue for the last time. After 1722, the Swedish King gave the ruins of the castle to the Swedish-Western Pomeranian knights as a present. From 1733 to 1741, the baroque building complex of the Aris ...
Founded: 1573 | Location: Barth, Germany

Detmold Castle

Fürstliches Residenzschloß, in the center of the Detmold town park, is a fine example of Weser Renaissance style. In 1263, Bernard III of Lippe fortified the settlement at the crossing of the trade route from Paderborn to Lemgo over the Werre River with stone walls and granted it a municipal charter. In 1550, Detmold became the permanent residence of Count Simon III of Lippe. The counts were elevated to princ ...
Founded: 1550s | Location: Detmold, Germany

Cologne City Museum

The armoury was built by the Imperial Town of Cologne as weapons arsenal around 1600 in Dutch Renaissance style. Today, there is the 'Kölnisches Stadtmuseum', which provides an insight into the spiritual, economic and every day life of the city of Cologne and its citizens from the Middle Ages up until today.
Founded: 1600 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Dachau Palace

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Founded: 1546 | Location: Dachau, Germany

Thorn Castle

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Founded: 16th century | Location: Schloß Thorn, Germany

St. Michael's Church

St. Michael"s church in Aachen was built for the Jesuit Collegium in 1617-1628 and is now a church of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Germany. With the dissolution of the Jesuit Order in September 1773 the church was closed and converted into a granary during the French period, later it was used as a parish church. In 1987 the Greek Orthodox community of St. Dimitrios which was found in 1963 purchased the buildi ...
Founded: 1617-1628 | Location: Aachen, Germany

Augsburg Town Hall

The Town Hall of Augsburg is one of the most significant secular buildings of the Renaissance style north of the Alps. On 25 August 1615, the foundation stone of the building was laid. The exterior of the building was completed in March 1620, and the interior in 1624. Technologically, the Augsburger Rathaus was a pioneering performance; upon its completion it was the first building in the world with more than six storeys. ...
Founded: 1615 | Location: Augsburg, Germany

Bad Rappenau Wasserschloss

The Wasserschloss (water castle) in Bad Rappenau is a moated castle from the early 17th century. The castle was built in 1601 by the Lords of Gemmingen on the site of an older manor. Today it is used for cultural events.
Founded: 1601 | Location: Bad Rappenau, Germany

Bergzabern Palace

Bergzabern Palace is a landmark of the town of Bad Bergzabern. Formerly the residence of the Dukes of Pfalz-Zweibrücken, it now houses the administrative functions of the local government of Bad Bergzabern. The Counts of Saarbrücken probably built a water castle in the 12th and 13th centuries on the site of the present palace. It was first mentioned in 1333. In 1385 it fell to the Electorate of the Palatinate a ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Bad Bergzabern, Germany

Glücksburg Castle

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Landshut Residence

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Founded: 1536 | Location: Landshut, Germany

Erbach Castle

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Neuburg Castle

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Husum Castle

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Schleissheim Palace

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Spandau Citadel

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St. Michael's Church

St. Michael"s Jesuit church in Munich is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. The style of the building had an enormous influence on Southern German early Baroque architecture. The church was built by William V, Duke of Bavaria between 1583 and 1597 as a spiritual center for the Counter Reformation. In order to realise his ambitious plans for the church and the adjoining college, Duke William had 87 hou ...
Founded: 1583-1597 | Location: Munich, Germany

Darfeld Castle

Schloss Darfeld was built in 1612-1616 by the Münster architect and sculptor Gerhard Gröninger, who brought Venetian Renaissance style to the northern Germany. The Droste family to Vischering bought the property in 1680. The house was largely destroyed in 1899 by a big fire. The reconstruction in today"s form according to plans by Hermann Schaedtler lasted until 1904.
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Kirchheim Castle

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Bad Mergentheim Castle

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Founded: 1525 | Location: Bad Mergentheim, Germany

Schorndorf Castle

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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

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Historic Village of Olargues

Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.

The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.