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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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Schorndorf Castle

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Eutin Castle

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Heiligenberg Castle

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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.