Thursday, 15 June 2017

Philip I and the Reformation in Hesse (Germany)

The Landgraviate of Hesse was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Under the rule of Landgrave Philip I of Hesse it became one of the earliest and most powerful Protestant principalities. 

Philip I was born in 1504 and in 1518 he became Landgrave of Hesse. Until 1523 he expelled Lutheran preachers from his territory, but already in 1524 he started to support Luther's ideas and became a spearhead of the Reformation. After the Peasants' War he sought talks with the peasants and suppressed the most of the pilloried injustices. After the Synod of Homberg he officially introduced the Reformation to the Landgraviate. In consequence the monasteries were dissolved and their capital benefited the care of the poor and invalid. In 1527 he founded the University of Marburg, the first Lutheran university in the World. In 1529 he was a part of the Protestation at Speyer and in 1531 he became a leader of the Schmalkaldic League. A second marriage in 1540 led to many difficulties with his allies. After the Schmalkaldic War he was imprisoned and when he returned to Hesse he mainly looked after the administration of his principality. Philip I died in 1567. 

After his death the Landgraviate of Hesse was divided between his four sons from his first marriage and never regained its former importance.

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Philip I

Marburg Castle was built in the 11th century. It was the first residence of Landgraviate of Hesse and is especially known for the Marburg Colloquy held there in 1529.
More about the Marburg Colloquy will follow in July.


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