How Successful Were the Cities in the Spread of Lutheranism

The cities also had higher literacy numbers than in the countryside, therefore articles by Martin Luther could be understood by more numbers of people . This made the printing press quite effective thus making it a important factor, which contributed to the success to the spread of Lutheranism. Elizabeth Eisenstein, a historian states that that printing did not just spread Protestant ideas but helped to shape the Reformation in the first place, she stated that, ???no printing press, no reformation??™, which shows how significantly important the printing press was in the contribution to the spread of Lutheranism. It was also easy to reach the peasants through the use of woodcuts. Scribner likened these as homemade gin, ???cheap, crude and effective??™. However it did not ensure total control over the Reformation, as others could use the printing press to go against his ideas.
Individual people such as Philip Melanchthon and not to mention Martin Luther himself were also important in the success of Lutheranism. Martin Luther initiated the challenge to the existing Catholic Church through his condemnation of its practices and doctrine. He displayed great courage in maintaining his position and was able to deal with accusations and threats made by Cardinal Cajetan, John Eck, the papacy and the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Also his great display of energy and creativity resulted in a mass of literature and it would be fair to say that by 1521, Luther had laid down his theological agenda on paper and woodcuts for the illiterate.
Philip Melanchthon was also an important figure who contributed towards the success of Lutheranism. When Luther was in captivity in Wartburg Castle between 1521 till 1522, Melanchthon wrote the first systematic and pure work of the new faith in 1521 entitled, ???Loci Communes??™. He was the most important in laying out an organized explanation of the new faith, but also in trying to restrict the radical tendencies of others, such as of Andreas Carlstadt, who wanted to speed up the rate of reform and change. It was also Melanchthon who drew up the, ???Confession of Augsburg??™, which is the Lutheran state of belief.
Although events such as the Peasants??™ Revolt and Andreas Carlstadt challenged Lutheranism, it helped Lutheranism to spread indirectly, because they conformed Luther??™s belief that reform had to be initiated and guided from the upper class, which are the authorities, as he outlined in his treatise, ???Adress to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation??™. These events also emphasised for Luther the dangers of allowing the laity to read the scriptures and interpret the word of God for themselves. Preachers and teachers were necessary in the localities in order to guide and instruct. Therefore their role in the spread of Lutheranism was important as well.
By 1525, Lutheranism had developed into a popular movement. What had begun a excuse to form a debate, had developed into a protest, which was supported by cities and the countryside. The implications of this movement were profound as by 1555, because the success of Lutheranism changed the whole religious structure of Germany. Some other important factors which contributed towards the success of Lutheranism is the role of the princes. The protection Luther received from some princes such as Frederick of Saxony and Philip of Hesse allowed the movement to develop in the face of a troubled and inexperienced Holy Roman Emperor. The princely support also become more organised and official in the form of leagues established in 1526 at Torgeau and in 1531 at the Schmalkkaldic league to defend Lutheranism. However it was quite risky for the princes to support Lutheranism, as they could lose their title.
Furthermore it is apparent that Luther had the backing of the nobility through the Imperial Knights, which were an independent group of minor noblemen whose forefathers had been extremely influential during the Middle Ages, but whose influenced now had waned. They proposed Luther to give military backing, however he refused as he had a pacifistic approach to reinforce his ideas. He didn??™t need their assistance as he already had the support of Frederick of Saxony and there was little opposition against Lutheranism. As Lutheranism became stronger and more of the princes started to become Lutheran, it was more accepted by everyday society. The movement was now largely controlled by them and therefore the role of the princes also contributed towards the success of Lutheranism.
Charles V was also important towards the success of the spread of Lutheranism. When his father Philip I died, he inherited large amounts of countries and therefore had a lot of responsibility. He was nineteen when he was elected Holy Roman Emperor and needed the backing up by the princes, it was therefore why Luther survived the Diet of Worms in 1521. If Charles had been more involved in unifying the Church, the spread of Lutheranism could have been set to halt, however because the French threat in northern Italy and rebellions in Castile and Valencia in Spain, Charles was unable to give his full attention in Germany, thus allowing Lutheranism to successfully spread.
It therefore can be said the cities and towns were an important contributing factor which helped Lutheranism successfully to spread. Euan Cameron stated, ???It was much easier for city tradesman to learn about the Reformation??™. However other factors such as the role of the nobility and the printing press were equally as important. It was also Charles V??™s absence in Germany which helped with the spread of Lutheranism, as when he would have been present in Germany he would have ordered it directly to halt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *