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§ 97. Protestantism in Augsburg and South Germany.


Augsburg, first known twelve years before Christ as a Roman colony (Augusta Vindelicorum), and during the middle ages an imperial city (since 1276), the seat of a bishop, the chief emporium for the trade of Northern Europe with the Mediterranean and the East, and the home of princely merchants and bankers (the Fuggers and Welsers), figures prominently in the early history of the Reformation, and gave the name to the standard confession of the Lutheran Church in 1530, and to the treaty of peace in 1555.765765    Friedrich Roth, Augsburgs Reformationsgeschichte, 1517-1527. München, 1881. Luther was there in 1518 at a conference with Cardinal Cajetan, and lodged with the Carmelite friar Frosch, who remained faithful to him. Peutinger, the bishop (Christoph von Stadium), and two canons (Adelmann) were friendly to reform, at least for a time. Urbanus Rhegius preached there from 1523 to 1530, and exerted great influence. He distributed, with Frosch, the communion with the cup at Christmas, 1524. Both married in 1526.

But the Zwinglians, under the lead of Michael Keller, gradually gained the upper hand among influential men. Zwingli took advantage of the situation in his famous letter to Alber, Nov. 16, 1524, in which he first fully developed his theory. Even Rhegius, who had written before against Carstadt (sic) and Zwingli, became a Zwinglian, though only for a short period.

The Anabaptist leaders, Hubmaier, Denck, Hetzer, Hut, likewise appeared in Augsburg, and gathered a congregation of eleven hundred members. They held a general synod in 1527. They baptized by immersion. Rhegius stirred up the magistrate against them: the leaders were imprisoned, and some executed.766766    See the description of the congregation of the "Apostolic Brethren," as the Anabaptists called themselves, in Ludwig Keller, Ein Apostel der Wiedertäufer (i.e., Hans Denck), Leipzig, 1882, ch. VI. 94-119.

The confusion and strife among the Protestants strengthened the Roman party. The people did not know what to believe, and the magistrate hesitated. The moral condition of the city, as described by Rhegius, Musculus, and other preachers, was deplorable, and worse than under the papal rule. During the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, the Emperor prohibited all Protestant preaching in public: the magistrate made no objection, and dismissed the preachers. But the Augsburg Confession left a permanent impression on the place.

The South-German cities of Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau were, like Augsburg, influenced by Zwingli as well as Luther, and united with Strassburg in the Tetrapolitan Confession, which Bucer and Capito prepared in great haste during the Diet of Augsburg as a document of union between the two wings of Protestantism. It failed to meet the approval of the Diet, and was, like Zwingli’s Confession, not even allowed to be read; but Bucer adhered to it to the end.

The most important and permanent conquest which the Reformation made in South Germany was that of the duchy (now kingdom) of Württemberg under Duke Ulrich, through the labors of Brenz, Blaurer, and Schnepf, after 1534. The University of Tübingen (founded 1477) became one of the most fruitful nurseries of Protestant theology, in all its phases, from the strictest orthodoxy to the most radical criticism.767767    Römer, Kirchliche Geschichte Württembergs, Stuttg. 1848. Keim, Schwäbische Reformationsgeschichte. Tübingen, 1855. Schneider, Württemb. Reformationsgesch. Stuttgart, 1887.



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