Friday, 15 September 2017

Spener, Francke and the Pietism (Germany)

The Pietism was an influential movement in Lutheranism that combined the Lutheran emphasis on Biblical doctrine with the Reformed emphasis on individual piety and living a vigorous Christian life. It originated in Germany in the late 17th century and had a tremendous impact on Protestantism around the World. The movement reached its zenith in the mid-18th century and declined through the 19th century.

Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705) was a German Lutheran theologian and is considered to be the Father of Pietism. In his main work, Pia desideria (1675), he denounced the wrongs in the Lutheran Church and suggested extensive reformations to strengthen and renew the Church through the development of more knowledgeable and devoted members. The University of Halle was founded under his influence in 1694.


The Francke Foundations in Halle were founded in 1695 by August Hermann Francke (1663-1727). They are a school city and one of the most important architectural monuments in Germany from the period of Pietism. The Francke Foundation Buildings seek for the inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Other Reformations (Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom)

The Reformation-themed posts on this Blog were until now focused on the person and the ideas of Martin Luther and his supporters, but he was neither the first one nor the last one whose ideas and doings reformed. This post is about the other Reformations.

Jan Hus (1372-1415) is considered to be the first church reformer. His teachings had a strong influence on the states of Western Europe and on Martin Luther. During the Council of Constance he was burned at the stake for heresy. After his death the followers of his religious teachings, the Hussites, rebelled against their Roman Catholic rulers and defeated five consecutive papal crusades during the the Hussite Wars between 1420 and 1431.


Hus Memorial in Prague

Huldrych Zwingli was born in 1484 in the Canton of St Gall in Switzerland. He later studied theology in Vienna and Basel and became pastor. Around 1514 he first encountered the humanist writings of Erasmus of Rotterdam and started to search a deeper approach to the New Testament. In 1522 he wrote a paper against the Lent, which marked the beginning of his conflict with the Church. In 1523 the city council of Zürich organised two disputations and at the end the Reformation according to Zwingli was introduced. The doctrine of Zwingli has many similarities with the one of Luther. The main differences are the missing distinction of secular and religious power and the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. Zwingli's Reformation spread in northern Switzerland and southwest Germany. When Zwingli tried to introduce the Reformation to other parts of Switzerland, a war between Zürich and other Catholic Cantons began. Huldrych Zwingli died during the Battle of Kappel in 1531 and the Reformation in Switzerland came to a standstill for the moment.

This is not a postcard, but a picture from the Internet.

The Church of England was separated from Rome by King Henry VIII in 1534. Although a theological separation had been foreshadowed by various movements within the English Church, the main reason became the monarch himself, although he was actually theologically opposed to Protestantism. Henry's motive was that Pope Clement VII refused the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. So Henry took the position of Supreme Head of the Church of England to ensure the annulment and was later excommunicated by Pope Paul III. Between 1536 and 1540 Henry VIII engaged in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Henry maintained a strong preference for traditional Catholic practises and just under his son, King Edward VI, more Protestant-influenced forms of worship were adopted. Queen Mary I, who succeeded Edward, returned England again to the authority of the papacy for a sort time, thereby ending the first attempt at an independent Church of England. The Elizabethan Settlement from 1558 developed the middle way character of the Church of England, a church moderately Reformed in doctrine and also emphasising continuity with the Catholic and Apostolic traditions of the Church Fathers.

The Canterbury Cathedral is the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England. It was built in the 11th century and is considered to be a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. In 1170 Thomas Becket had been murdered in the cathedral, starting a constant flow of pilgrims. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer tell the story of such a pilgrimage in the 14th century. Since 1988 is the Canterbury Cathedral on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Johannes Calvin was born in 1509 in northern France and later studied law and theology. After he acknowledged the Reformation in 1533, he had to leave France. In Basel in 1535 he finished his main work, Institutio Christianae Religionis. Between autumn 1535 and 1538 and again from 1540 onwards he lived in Geneva, where he established a community according to his ideas. In 1541 the city council of Geneva accepted a church order written by Calvin. Together with Luther he is considered to be one of the most important figures of the Reformation. The Calvinism spread to many parts of Europe including France (Huguenots), Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Scotland. Johannes Calvin died in 1564.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Doctor Pomeranus (Germany)

Johannes Bugenhagen was born in 1485 in the Duchy of Pomerania. Between 1502 and 1504 he studied at the University of Greifswald and in 1504 he became the rector of the local school in Treptow an der Rega. In 1509 he was ordained as a priest, although he had not studied theology, and in the following years he became the core of a Humanist circle. At the behest of the Duke of Pomerania Bugenhagen started to write a book about the history of Pomerania in 1517 and so he started an extensive journey around the country. In 1520 he first encountered the ideas of Luther. First he did not like them at all, but then he became a supporter and decided to move to Wittenberg. There he became parish pastor in 1523 and thus pastor and confessor of Martin Luther. In the following years he became a close friend of Luther and Melanchthon and helped with the translation of the Bible. He also started to lecture at the University of Wittenberg and in 1533 he became one of the first three Protestant doctors of theology. In 1539 he became superintendent of the Lutheran Church in Saxony. Johannes Bugenhagen died in 1558.


Johannes Bugenhagen is especially known as the most important figure in the Protestant Reformation in Northern Germany and Scandinavia, where he took an active role in creating Protestant church orders. In 1528 he wrote the first Protestant church order in the World for Braunschweig. Church orders followed for Hamburg (1528/29),  Lübeck (1530–1532), the Duchy of Pomerania (1534/5), East Frisia (1534/5), Denmark-Norway (1537), where he also crowned Christian III, Schleswig-Holstein (1542), Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1543) and Hildesheim (1544). Not only did he create the new rules, he also established them and convinced people to follow them.

 Bugenhagen Memorial in Braunschweig: Left is a card, right is a photo I took

Bugenhagen Memorial in Hildesheim

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Bible Printer (Germany)

Hans Lufft was a printer and publisher. In 1515 he started to work in a printers' shop in Wittenberg and in 1524 he owned his own shop. In the following years he printed many works of Martin Luther and other reformers including Luther's first complete Bible in 1534. From then on he was known as the Bible Printer. In 1542 he became a member of Wittenberg's town council. Hans Lufft died in 1584.


Monday, 31 July 2017

Luther's Life after 1517 (Germany)

After the publishing of the Ninety-five Theses in 1517 Martin Luther's life would never be the same again. The monk and professor was then talked of by everyone. This second post about Luther's life (see the first here) will focus on the main events in his life between 1517 and his death in 1546. 

Luther stamp from the
series Great Germans (issued 28-06-1961)

The Heidelberg Disputation was held on 25th April 1518. Martin Luther was able to articulate his views and to defend his theses. Among the listeners were Johannes Brenz and Martin Bucer, who later became important supporters of Luther. 


In June 1518 Luther was summoned to Rome, as he was accused of heresy, but with the help of Frederick the Wise he was able to move the trial from Rome to Augsburg. During the Diet of Augsburg (12th to 14th October 1518) Luther was interrogated by Cardinal Thomas Cajetan. Luther refused to revoke his theses if there would not be an evidence for their falseness in the Bible. Cajetan rated this as heresy and to escape the threatening arrest Luther fled from Augsburg. Due to the political situation the Pope was forced to hold the trial in abeyance if Luther would keep quiet. Luther agreed to do so.


In the meantime Johann Eck prepared theses for a debate with Andreas Karlstadt, a friend and supporter of Luther. The theses were clearly against Luther and so Luther decided to break the silence and join the Leipzig Debate himself in July 1519. Eck's debating skills led Luther to declare that the Pope does not have power, as he is not mentioned in the Bible, and that "Auch Konzile können irren" (Also Councils can be wrong (meant was the one in Constance)).

The debate led Pope Leo X to censor Luther and threaten him with excommunication from the Catholic Church in June 1520 with the papal bull Exsurge Domine, which banned Luther's views from being preached or written.


In 1520 Martin Luther also published his important works To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church and On the Freedom of a Christian.

After Luther burned the papal bull on 10th December 1520, Pope Leo X issued the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem on 3rd January 1521, which excommunicated Martin Luther.

Owing to Frederick the Wise Martin Luther was allowed to articulate and defend his views once again during the Diet of Worms on 17th April 1521, where he was interrogated and requested to revoke his theses. He refused and answered with his famous, but undocumented, sentence: "Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me. Amen." The Edict of Worms declared Luther to be an obstinate heretic and banned the reading or possession of his writings. Luther was declared an outlaw, but Emperor Charles V still kept the promise of safe-conduct which he had given Frederick the Wise. On his way home Martin Luther was "abducted" by Frederick's soldiers on 4th May 1521 and was brought to the safe Wartburg Castle. 


Luther Memorial in Worms

At Wartburg Castle Martin Luther lived as Junker Jörg and translated the New Testament into German in only eleven weeks. It was the first German bible translation that was understandable for the most people and had a large impact on the German language. Due to riots and the radicalisation of the Reformation under Karlstadt, Martin Luther returned to Wittenberg on 1st March 1522. After just one week quiet set in again.




In the following time Martin Luther celebrated the first Lutheran communion and the first germanophone mass. In 1524 he abandoned the lifestyle of a monk and in 1525 he married Katharina von Bora.

At the behest of Philip I of Hesse Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli and other reformers met at Marburg Castle in October 1529. The Marburg Colloquy attempted to solve a disputation between Luther and Zwingli over the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, but failed to do so.



After the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 the life of Martin Luther calmed down again. In the following years he mainly worked as publicist, chaplain and professor in Wittenberg, but still spoke his mind about important events of the time like the Ottoman Wars.

Although he suffered from a heart disease, Martin Luther decided to go to Eisleben in January 1546 to settle a dispute with the Counts of Mansfeld. On 18th February 1546 Martin Luther died in Eisleben, where he was born 62 years ago.

Saint Andrew's Church in Eisleben,
where Luther gave his last four sermons


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Radziwiłł family at Nesvizh (Belarus)

The Radziwiłł family was a powerful magnate family originating from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The family was highly prominent for centuries and has produced many individuals notable in European history and culture. In 1547 the Radziwiłł family received the title of Reichsfürst from the Holy Roman Empire. Until the first half of the 17th century the Radziwiłłs were the most influential and richest family among the magnate dynasties of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After the three partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late 18th century the property of the Radziwiłłs was located in Russia, Prussia and Austria, but the title of princes of the Radziwiłł dynasty was recognized in all three states.

The Radziwiłł family owned a total of 23 palaces, of which the Nesvizh Castle is probably one of the most famous. It was owned by the Radziwiłł family from 1533 and later the family turned the castle into an impressive Baroque complex, the first in Eastern Europe. Since 2005 is the Architectural, Residential and Cultural Complex of the Radziwiłł Family at Nesvizh on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


The Corpus Christi Church at Nesvizh is one of the oldest baroque structures outside Italy and was commissioned by Mikołaj Krzysztof "the Orphan" Radziwiłł.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

The North German Confederation (Germany)

The defeat of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 resulted in a shift in power among the German states away from Austrian hegemony and the abolition of the German Confederation. Prussia, the new sole hegemonic power, subsequently founded the North German Confederation, the first federal state in Germany, which united 22 free cities, small and middle states north of the river Main under Prussian dominance. The new constitution became effective on 1st July 1867, after a draft constitution was presented by Bismarck which was altered by a konstituierender Reichstag. Bismarck planned to make the federal state attractive to southern German states which might later join. The North German Constitution created a national parliament, the Reichstag, and the Bundesrat, the council of the representatives of the allied governments. During the Franco-Prussian War Baden, Bavaria, Württemberg and the North German Confederation united to form a new nation state, which later got the name German Empire. The King of Prussia became German Emperor and the constitution of the Empire was nearly identical to that of the North German Confederation.

The member states of the North German Confederation were 
the Kingdoms of Prussia and Saxony, 
the Grand Duchies of Hesse (only the northern part), Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Oldenburg and Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, 
the Duchies of Anhalt, Brunswick, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Saxe-Meiningen, 
the Principalities of Lippe, Reuss-Gera, Reuss-Greiz, Schaumburg-Lippe, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen and Waldeck and Pyrmont and 
the Free and Hanseatic Cities of Bremen, Hamburg and Lübeck.