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To what extent had Lutheranism been established by the 1530s? Free essay! Download now

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To what extent had Lutheranism been established by the 1530s?

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To what extent had Lutheranism been established by the 1530s?


Luther enjoyed the support of many of the German princes and there is no doubt that this helped massively in establishing Lutheranism not only in Germany but also as far away as England and Scandinavia. By the time of the Diet of Speyer in 1529 it had been adopted as the official religion in fourteen cities and by six princes. Lutherism had many appeals to the princes, the key one being that the princes could nationalise monastic lands which in turn would give them more power which would give the prince a higher status. The fact that Luther was also very conservative was another factor which the princes admired. Anyone who was worried that he may be a revolutionary looking to overthrow the authority was to be proved wrong as he condemned the hoards of rebelling Peasants who destroyed church property and attacked church officials during the Peasants War in 1525. As Lee writes in Aspects of European History, “Luther showed that he was firmly behind the political authority of the individual princes and that his demands for religious reform would not degenerate into a socio-political movement aimed at overthrowing leaders”.

There is no doubt that allowing the princes to plunder the church “undercover of the Gospel” was one of the reasons Lutheranism was taken up by so many of the princes however there is evidence to suggest that the princes genuinely supported Luther’s beliefs, in particular Frederick of Saxony. If it wasn’t for Prince Frederick of Saxony hiding Luther after the Diet of Worms he would have more than likely been killed and Lutheranism would have been forgotten about. As it was, in the decade after the Diet of Worms, Luther continued to publish pamphlets which got read widely thanks to the printing press, thus helping Lutheranism to gain extensive support beyond the boarders of Saxony. In 1530 at Augsburg, Charles V held a meeting to reconciliate the Roman Catholic Church with Lutheranism however this failed miserably. By 15 31 the Schmalkaldic League was formed and Lutherism was well and truly established in Germany. However would this have happened if it hadn’t been for the Princes?

The actual beliefs of the Lutheran religion were vital in making sure it became established. The beliefs of the Lutheran religion held great appeal to the peasants who had been victims of the Catholic churches indulgence sellers and had to put up with sermons read in Latin which they could not understand. Many of the people welcomed the idea of Priesthood of all believers where they could read the Bible for themselves and gain a greater understanding of the faith. For those who could not read, woodcuts were made which allowed the peasants to gain a rough understanding of the beliefs. Hymns were also encouraged by Luther. These were not only an enjoyable way to learn more about the faith but also allowed Luther’s influence to expand outside of the church and seep into everyday life.

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